Hamilton County Animal Rescue welcomes exotic animals

From rabbits and rats to turtles and tarantulas, EARPS welcomes all but the typical pets.

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. “Have you ever seen a chinchilla give itself a dust bath?”

It’s pretty cool, but a lot of chinchillas end up at Exotic Animal Rescue and Pet Sanctuary (EARPS) in Hamilton County, never having one because the owners didn’t know how to care for an exotic pet.

It is the same for many animals that EARPS saves. The rescue group works with other shelters and shelters that are not used to taking in exotic animals.

“Most of the shelters you see — the Humane Societies, the city shelters — are used to dogs and cats,” said EARPS President Heather Sokol.

It’s a different story at EARPS, where they accept any animal that isn’t a dog, cat, wild animal, or barnyard animal.

“They will receive all the care they need. When they come in, they will be rehabilitated to proper diet, proper housing. We sterilize and castrate whenever possible,” Sokol said.

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Sokol also said they work hard to educate the public about exotic animals. Some animals – like a Russian tortoise – can make great pets but outlive their owners as they can live to be 50 years old. Others, like rabbits and rats, reproduce quickly and owners find themselves in a situation where they have a large number of animals that they had not anticipated.

The rescue has taken in animals that most people can’t even imagine.

“Rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, mice, hamsters, gerbils, hedgehogs. We have parakeets. We have snakes, turtles and lizards,” Sokol said. “And then we’ll have some scary critters sometimes. We’ll have tarantulas or crabs, or an axolotl; hissing cockroaches from Madagascar. We took 10 or 11 of them last year and adopted them pretty quickly from a science teacher from the area, who was very excited to have her for her class.”

The top priority is to find a happy, healthy and permanent home for the animals. Exotic animals can make great pets, as long as there is planning and research done beforehand.

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“We don’t want them going to someone who isn’t prepared for it. It’s so important that they know what they’re getting into because not all animals are prepared for a certain lifestyle. “Sokol said.

EARPS has a thorough adoption process to ensure the pet and family are a perfect fit. Currently, the rescue has a wide variety of animals that are available for adoption. Find details on the rescue website and Facebook page.

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