Pet Peeves: Jealous of the Baby

Advice for Owners of Birds, Fish, Reptiles, and Rodents

Creature Features

What if you're a bird, reptile, hamster, or fish fan? You have less to worry about, particularly from a socialization standpoint (goldfish aren't known to hold grudges). However, there are other issues to consider. Here's what you need to know about these crawling, flying, and swimming critters.

  • Birds: Bird waste is highly toxic and may contain a bacterium that causes a flulike illness called psittacosis. Polly and her crackers should stay in her cage.
  • Reptiles/Amphibians: These animals are notorious for spreading salmonella bacteria, which is especially dangerous to pregnant women and children. Avoid them during pregnancy, and don't let your baby touch them.
  • Small Rodents: Domestic rodents purchased in a pet store are usually disease-free. However, they may bite if they feel threatened by curious baby hands, and their bites are deep and painful.
  • Fish: As long as your baby can't overturn the bowl, she and the fish should get along swimmingly.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2005.

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