Please stop buying axolotls and other exotic animals for pets

With billions of TikTok views, many exotic animals—including axolotls, ball pythons, bearded dragons, black widow spiders, and capybaras—are becoming more popular than ever, and this fame is causing folks to buy them as pets. National Geographic explains:

That's partly because they're cute—or ugly-cute. But experts say it also has to do with the medium itself.

"People resonate with these videos as they add human-like captions for the animals," Julia Lee Cunningham, associate professor at the University of Michigan and a National Geographic Explorer writes in an email.

These videos inspire us to care about wildlife. But they may have hidden harms, too, as more people seek out exotic animals as pets.

But these animals are often very difficult to care for, and keeping them as pets could be harmful to them (or to you). Many of these animals are overbred or harmed (or die) during transport, and are not taken care of properly by families who don't have the right knowledge or equipment. 

The Spinoff quotes New Zealand's chief veterinary officer Helen Beattie, who explains the popularity of such exotic animals and why it's best to not bring one home:

"We see a lot of pet trends when it comes to pop culture – gaming and television shows. We saw an increase in huskies being bought after Game of Thrones. Or thinking back – a rush on Jack Russells after the Telecom ads hit many decades ago. The sad thing is that once the trend is over, interest in animals wanes, yet they still need the same care and attention."

For more about the challenges of keeping axolotls, ball pythons, bearded dragons, black widow spiders, and capybaras in particular, read the rest of this National Geographic article. And by all means, enjoy these creatures on the screen, or in toy form, but please, please don't buy them.