Hidden Dangers of Unusual Pets

What to know about guinea pigs, snakes, ferrets, iguanas and more
ball python Photo: cellistka/Shutterstock
boy holding guinea pig
gerbil
ferret
ball python
green iguana
box turtle
yellow cockatoo
black and white rabbit
4 / 8

Snakes

Slinky and scaly, snakes hold special appeal for some. But snakes, like other reptiles, can carry salmonella. And if you’ll be feeding your snake mice, you’ll have to deal with the health risks these rodents pose, such as the Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) virus, mentioned earlier. If you have a snake, wash your hands immediately after feeding or handling it or cleaning its enclosure. Large snakes such as pythons, boa constrictors and anacondas should not be kept as pets, according to the Human Society of the United States. They are capable of killing an adult, never mind a child, says the group. In 2009, the family’s pet python strangled a 2-year-old girl when it escaped its terrarium and slithered into her crib. These snakes also pose a danger to public health if they get outside.