5 Exotic Creatures That Make Excellent Emotional Support Animals

Owning and caring for an emotional support animal is a wonderful and increasingly popular way to improve mental health. Americans with all sorts of psychological issues are turning to emotional support animals to improve their quality of life. The company of an ESA can very effectively soothe psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias, and PTSD.

The most common types of emotional support animal in the U.S. are dogs and cats, and a cute little Fido or Tigger will certainly do the job for most people. But some folks prefer the company of a more exotic species of ESA. So, with that in mind, here is our list of five exotic animals that make excellent emotional support animals.

Moosh - lizard

 

Bearded Dragon

Calm, laid-back, and relaxed are not necessarily adjectives that spring to mind when you’re thinking about dragons. But a bearded dragon is a very different creature to its fire-breeding, flying, and often rather aggressive mythical namesake. You will certainly never be tempted to slay your bearded dragon ESA, because these little guys have excellent personalities. They are very chilled out and social and have no issues with being handled by humans. Bearded dragons eat a diet that mainly consists of insects and vegetables (but they aren’t simply leaping on the paleo bandwagon – they’ve been eating like this forever!). Their lifespan is about a decade if they are healthy and well looked after. All in all, bearded dragons make excellent emotional support animals.

Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig

Hailing from Vietnam, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs are smart, social, and impossibly cute. They easily match dogs in terms of intelligence and sociability. They love to hang out with humans and play, relax, or even have a little cuddle. Pot-bellied pigs can grow to be pretty large, weighing from 60 to 175 pounds, and so it is important to have ample space, both indoors and outdoors, for your ESA pig to move around in. Pigs also need a place outside in which to root. Rooting is an ancient, evolved behavior in pigs and they need to be able to indulge in it. (So if you pride yourself on having an immaculate lawn, an ESA pig is probably not for you!) Pot-bellied pigs have a life-expectancy of between 15 and 25 years, so getting one is a serious commitment. But it is a commitment that will be rewarded in numerous ways, because a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig makes a truly excellent exotic ESA.

Leopard Gecko

Leopard print never goes out of fashion for these cute little characters! And leopard geckos not only look great – they also have wonderful personalities, are easy to care for, and have long lifespans of up to 20 years. So having an emotional support gecko means you have a friendly, low-maintenance friend that will be around for many years to come. Leopard geckos have simple dietary requirements; they will be delighted to munch on cockroaches, crickets, and mealworms for every meal. You will need to get a vivarium for your gecko to live in. A suitable vivarium will have plenty of ornaments, obstacles, and nooks and crannies in which your gecko can play and hide. Geckos enjoy human company, but always need to be handled gently, as they are fragile.

Moosh - fennec fox

 

Fennec Fox

A fennec fox makes an excellent exotic ESA. For a start, they are exceedingly cute. With their humongous eyes and ears, and tiny, adorable faces, they trigger the “Awwww… So cute!” response in most people! Fennec foxes are playful and social, but they also enjoy their alone time, and when they are not in a social mood they can be a little aloof. But once they have recharged their batteries with some time on their own, they will come back for some more cuddling and play. Basically, they spend their time playing, cuddling, or resting/sleeping on their own. A fennec fox will grow to be the size of an average house cat, keeps relatively clean, can be house-trained, and enjoys being petted, so it makes a very suitable emotional support animal.

Turtle

The turtle is one of the most iconic and adored exotic animals on the planet. Turtles have inspired cartoons, movies, and fables, and have captured the imaginations of humans for many, many years. Plus, they make excellent exotic ESAs! Turtles live in semi-aquatic environments, so they will require a suitably lit aquarium with a water temperature of between 72 and 77 F and a dry area temperature of 85 to 90 F. Turtles are relatively easy to take care of. What you feed your turtle will depend on whether it is an omnivorous or herbivorous species. Omnivorous turtles will eat small fish and insects, food pellets, and most fruit and vegetables. Herbivorous turtles will only eat fruits and vegetables. On that note, please do not be tempted to feed your turtle New York-style pepperoni pizza… Not everything you see in cartoons is true!

So that was our list of five exotic animals that make excellent emotional support animals. Hopefully, your imagination has been captured!

The Best Hypoallergenic Emotional Support Animals

Allergies are an insidious enemy in many people’s lives. Why some folks react to substances in a far more volatile way than others remains a mystery, but unfortunately, that’s the case for millions of Americans across the country. It all starts in the nose; that’s often the first point of entry for those pesky allergic substances, before they go on to irritate the eyes, throat, ears, and even in some cases, the brain. It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans battle allergies of all sorts every year. Some are seasonal, like hay fever, and some are constant, like pets. If you’ve suffered with severe allergies of any sort, you’ll know all too well that they can be a waking nightmare, and you’ll learn to keep well away from your specific triggers. But what if you need a pet as a form of therapy? Are there many breeds of hypoallergenic emotional support animals?

Emotional support animals (also known as ESAs for short) are a progressive new form of therapy involving the use of animals to tackle the most aggressive symptoms of widespread mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, autism in children, and bipolar disorder. The thinking goes (and the studies back up the hypothesis) that the constant presence and companionship of an animal helps to derail the symptoms of these mental health issues. The animals don’t have to be trained in anything specific; just their presence is enough to ease the debilitating effects of some mental disorders.

Emotional support animals can be a new animal or an existing pet, and they can be any type of species of animal you like. As long as it has a positive effect on you and your mental health symptoms, then it’s entirely up to you which animal you choose as your ESA. The status of an emotional support animal is confirmed by an emotional support animal letter, which is given to a patient by a medical health professional. An emotional support animal letter is the key to proving your ESA is valid, and must be retained at all times. They can be acquired in face-to-face consultation, or sourced over the internet via telemedicine.

If you’re getting a new animal, you might be daunted by the amount of options out there. But if you’re getting a new animal and you know you suffer from allergies, you might be even more daunted by the prospect. It’s a catch-22 situation, really; you and your doctor believe an ESA will genuinely help your mental state, but you fear owning an animal will be a constant source of misery due to your allergies. Well, there are some ways around this, you’ll be pleased to hear! This handy rundown of the best hypoallergenic emotional support animals is the perfect way to start.

Kerry Blue Terrier

Dogs are far and away the most popular emotional support animals, just as they are real pets. Fortunately for dog lovers, there’s a couple of perfect breeds for people suffering from allergies. The Kerry Blue Terrier is one of those breeds. It has a non-shedding coat, which means that it’s essentially hypoallergenic, though their soft, wavy coat needs a lot of high-maintenance attention with brushes to keep it in order!

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise dogs are another of the most common types of hypoallergenic emotional support animals, as their coats are mostly made up of tight curls, resulting in a very low shedding of dander. Like their non-shedding pals the Kerry Blues, their coats need a lot of attention to maintain.

Moosh - Sphinx cat
Sphinx cats are one of the most popular breeds of hypoallergenic emotional support animals.

Sphinx Cat

Cats are popular ESAs for many mental health sufferers, but unfortunately, they are notorious shedders. Even short-haired breeds can shed a fair amount of fur, causing misery for people who suffer allergies. Simply visiting a house where a cat lives can set off vulnerable patients, so getting a cat is largely out of the question for these would-be ESA owners. Unless that cat happens to be a Sphynx cat, however – these bizarre-looking kitties have no hair whatsoever!

Turtle

Of course, if you’re really worried about your sensitive allergies, it can be best to avoid furry animals altogether. Turtles are very hypoallergenic emotional support animals, and can be quite soothing and therapeutic for people who suffer from anxiety, as watching their methodical plodding has a calming effect. They can be kept indoors or outdoors, and as a bonus are quite easy to travel around with.

Moosh - ESA turtle
Reptiles such as turtles are less common than dogs or cats, but are certainly a great hypoallergenic option!

Snake

A snake would be some people’s idea for a nightmare emotional support animal, but for those who take a liking to these slithering reptiles, they can actually make very agreeable companions. As scales replace fur, there’s no danger of any allergic reaction; though there is some threat of a very adverse reaction from unprepared house guests!

Just remember, at the end of the day, the ESA that works best for your specific mental condition is the one you should opt for, regardless of what other people might think!

Why Reptiles Make Surprisingly Good Emotional Support Animals

Much has been written of emotional support animals, or ESAs, as they become more and more popular, but when most people think of an ESA, they usually think of a cat or a dog as opposed to a snake or a lizard. Emotional support traditionally comes from fluffy pets instead of scaly ones, but the truth is that many people derive comfort and support from emotional support reptiles just the same as others do from more traditional emotional support animals.

Emotional support animals are pets that are legally certified to offer support to people who suffer from emotional or psychological conditions. They help people live their best lives by offering a calming presence or active emotional support with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Any animal can be certified as an emotional support animal as long as a healthcare professional has deemed them suitable for purpose in this particular form of treatment.

Moosh - pet snake
Snakes can make great emotional support animals – just look at this little guy!

So, why pick a reptile for your emotional support animal? There are many reasons that they can fit in with your life and offer the same emotional support of a more traditional ESA. Reptiles offer a lot of benefits over cats or dogs. Lizards, snakes, turtles, or frogs (who are actually amphibians) require far less care than furry animals but can be just as supportive. The first thing to do is to pick the animal that suits you. If you live in a small apartment, there is no point getting a large lizard, but a small tree frog might be suitable for your needs. The truth is that there is far less hassle in caring for a reptile or amphibian, but the emotional pay-off is just as good. You still feel as if there is something waiting for you at home and they will still want to see you and bond with you like a cat or dog.

In most major cities, there are specialist pet stores who deal in reptiles and amphibians who can give you the best advice. Like cats and dogs, you’ll be able to visit the shop and find a creature that you feel an emotional connection to, but it’s also important to make sure that you can provide the environment necessary for your emotional support animal to thrive. Most emotional support reptiles do not require frequent feeding, but you’ll need to keep a steady supply of frozen rodents for snakes and insects for lizards. If you’re squeamish, it may not be the path for you! You’ll also need to make sure that you can provide a proper electricity source in your living space, as your reptile will probably need lights and heating pads to warm their cold blood.

While they do need some specialized care, you don’t need to exercise or groom emotional support reptiles. They will often shed their skin, but this is a process that they undertake alone so you don’t need to help them in this. They are usually happy to be touched – just make sure you keep track of them once they are out of their tanks, as it is not uncommon for reptiles to go missing! Frogs need to be handled with damp hands so their skin doesn’t dry due to contact with human hands.

Moosh - turtle
Reptiles, including turtles, can be great ESAs, especially if you live in a small apartment.

Once you’ve picked your emotional support reptile or amphibian, you need to get the documentation necessary to certify them as an emotional support animal. It’s a very easy process than ensures that you’re afforded the legal protections that come with having an emotional support animal. If you’re anxious about seeing a doctor in-person, you can see a medical professional online who will speak to you about your condition and how your pet currently offers you support. You can speak to them via the camera function on your phone or laptop; it’s important to speak openly and honestly about the ways in which you get relief from your pet so that your doctor can make sure that you get the correct treatment. If they deem you suitable for treatment, you will be provided with a signed, stamped, and dated emotional support animal letter, which you can use as official documentation. This will ensure that you can travel with your emotional support animal as well as bring them with you into rented accommodation without any extra charges or security deposits.

While they’re not a traditional choice, reptiles can be an excellent choice of emotional support animal. They’re low-impact, don’t need walking, and still offer emotional support to their owners. You can keep them in your apartment or small living space with very little hassle, but they’ll still make it easy for you to live your life and manage your condition as best as you can.