By Nicole Matheson

Pets bring joy to many people’s lives, not only cats and dogs but reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds and other small mammals that you might not expect. Arizona law allows many unusual pets that are gaining in popularity in Lake Havasu City.

RiverScene spoke with Nolan and Amy Bauer, owners of Exotic Pet Kingdom LLC, and animal enthusiasts. Currently operating out of their home with a home-based business license, they have been handling exotic pets beginning with ferrets in 2007. The Bauers said, “Providing smiles and happiness by placing pets and animals with new owners is thrilling. Our passion is being shared and makes it all worth it.”

“Heather” is a short-tailed Opossum. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Exotic Animals Available In Lake Havasu

So what are some of these exotic animals?

The Bauers give an idea. “We currently offer several, several different types of reptiles/amphibians: snakes, monitors, bearded dragons, leopard geckos, frogs, tortoises and turtles. With ball pythons being the most popular reptile and pac-man frogs being the most popular amphibian.”

The list goes on!

“We offer sugar gliders, hedgehogs, chinchillas, fancy rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and bunnies. I didn’t forget our number one sellers which are ferrets.”

The plan is to expand into birds, freshwater fish and saltwater fish when they have their retail location, as soon as COVID concerns have passed.

Green and Black Dart Frog. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Do Your Research

For those who want to add an exotic pet to add to your family, the Bauers said, “Research the animal you want before buying an exotic pet. Each pet has a unique care requirement, which we are more than happy to discuss and educate each customer about.”

Chinchillas are easy to care for according to Amy Bauer. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

They offer an example, “Chinchillas are easy to care for, however the temperature cannot exceed 75 degrees or they can overheat and die. Once you meet the requirements of the individual species, most are not too difficult to care for. Most snakes eat once a week to once every two to three weeks. Small mammals each have their individual requirements, but with exotics, most require at least two of the species if the owner cannot provide attention every day.”

Some of these exotic pets are actually quite approachable in terms of care, such as hedgehogs. Local teen Mia Huggett, 14, is the proud owner of a hedgehog named Millie.

“Millie” the Hedgehog is a low maintenance pet for owner Mia Huggett. photo courtesy Mia Huggett

In her experience, “Hedgehogs are great low-maintenance pets. However, they do require patience because they can be antisocial and scared of humans. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and can run up to 12 miles a night on their wheel!”

Laws And Restrictions

It is important to consider the laws and restrictions that apply to ownership of exotic animals.

For instance, the Bauers share that the following may make good pets, but they are illegal in Arizona: “Monkeys, foxes and servals. Skunks, prairie dogs, squirrels, sloths and raccoons are some of the animals that are illegal that we have been asked about.”

Arizona Game and Fish Department cautions that some tortoises and turtles are also illegal to own.

Brandon Carley, Enforcement Program Manager, provides some insight.

“All species of the family Chelydridae, also known as snapping turtles, and all species of Gopherus, including desert tortoises, are restricted and not legal to posses unless they are from the tortoise adoption program. We have a lot of information on our website about the program and what is required to adopt one.”

“The Sultan” is Melissa Simpson’s African Spurred Thighed Tortoise. photo courtesy Melissa Simpson.

There are many tortoise owners in Lake Havasu. Melissa Simpson is the owner of The Sultan, a 24-year-old African Spur Thighed Tortoise. Simpson says that, “He will live to be 80 to 100 years old and will get up to 200 pounds.”

How does The Sultan fair at his forever home? Simpson reveals, “We love The Sultan, he has such a personality too. He will chase after the dogs and kick around the beach ball, and he loves booty shell rubs. His favorite thing is getting his showers. He will shake his shell back and forth in the water, like he is dancing.”

For Further Information

If you are interested in adopting a desert tortoise, visit https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/nongamemanagement/tortoise/captivecare/

If you are interested in another exotic pet, try checking in with the Bauers and schedule an appointment to consult and visit with the animals. Call or text 928-486-4867.

Jackson’s Chameleon. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Bearded Dragons are legal to own in Arizona. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Sugar Gliders are legal to own in Arizona. photo Nicole Matheson

“Sonic” the Hedgehog is Amber Ellis’s pet. photo courtesy Amber Ellis

“Steve Rogers” is a Leopard Gecko and is a legal pet to have in Arizona. photo courtesy Sierra Danielson


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