Exotic pet insurance

Standard insurers won't generally cover exotic pets such as snakes, tortoises, reptiles and some birds. Find out more about specialist exotic pet cover.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 17 December 2021  | 3 min read

Key points

  • Exotic pets are usually described as wild animals not naturally indigenous to the UK
  • Insurance that covers exotic pets usually includes things like vet treatment, cover for theft and public liability
  • They usually need specialist care, so make sure you research any exotic pet before taking one on so you can make sure its needs are properly met

What is an exotic pet?

An exotic pet loosely describes a pet that isn’t a cat, dog or farm animal. 

There are more than 3.1 million exotic animals kept as pets in the UK – and that's before you count the fish or insects.[1]

Exotic animals are those not usually indigenous to the UK.

Some exotic animals live a lot longer than your average moggy or pup. For instance, giant tortoises can live for more than 100 years.

Just like any other animal, exotic pets are susceptible to unexpected injuries and illnesses like abscesses, scratches and bites, so it could be worth considering exotic pet insurance.


What will my insurance cover?

Most standard insurers only cover dogs, cats and rabbits, meaning exotic pet owners need to find specialist cover to insure their pets.

When it comes to insuring your exotic pet, you’ll be able to choose from various cover levels – the more that’s covered, the more expensive your premiums will be.

Exotic pet insurance will usually help you cover the cost of the following: 

  • Vet treatment 
  • Death by fire or weather perils, accident or illness
  • Cover for repairs or replacement of housing or enclosures
  • Theft
  • Public liability

However, as with any insurance there will be aspects that your insurer won’t cover  so, it’s important to read the small print, particularly the exclusions. 

These often include pre-existing medical conditions, the cost of routine treatment, suitable enclosures and pets used for commercial purposes.

When comparing exotic pet insurance, make sure you look for policies that include public liability cover, especially if you own a pet that can cause injury or death tr others, such as a venomous snake.


How much does exotic pet insurance cost?

The cost of pet insurance depends on multiple factors,including the type of animal you’re insuring, the breed, age, previous medical conditions and their overall health.  

Without pet insurance you’d have to cover the full cost veterinary fees, replacements and public liability claims yourself. 

If you make a claim on your exotic pet insurance, you’ll usually have to pay an excess, so check the policy to see how much this could be.


How can I protect my exotic pet?

To protect your exotic pet, do your research on them before you bring them home so you can fully understand how you can meet their needs and keep them safe. Some exotic pets need to be kept well ventilated in a spacious environment with the correct temperature. 

If your exotic creature hibernates then invest in an indoor habitat for them a month or so before hibernation. 


Common health issues for tortoises

Tortoises need a greenhouse, with access to an outdoor pen.

Some breeds of tortoise can live up to 100 years. As tortoises get older, they become more prone to illnesses and injury, which is why exotic pet insurance is so important. Common  conditions include:

  • Runny nose syndrome
  • Stomatitis
  • Gastric problems
  • Skin and shell conditions

Common health issues in snakes 

Just like other animals, snakes suffer from an array of health issues. The most common include:

  • Bone disease
  • Burns from incorrect lighting and heating
  • Inability to shed skin
  • Respiratory infections
  • Parasites
  • Digestive problems

Non-domesticated animals like snakes require a lot of care and attention. Before buying a snake, research the specific breed and how big they grow so you are aware of what enclosure is required.


Common health problems for lizards

Exotic lizards usually require specialist care and they’re generally prone to the following conditions:

  • Poxvirus
  • Iridovirus
  • Fungal infections
  • External parasites
  • Metabolic bone disorder

Common conditions in exotic birds

Exotic birds need a suitable enclosure, toys and activities to provide entertainment and the correct diet to stay healthy. If they don’t recive the proper care, they’re more likely to become ill. 

Common health issues for exotic pet birds include:

  • Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD)
  • Psittacosis (Parrot Fever)
  • Candida
  • Polyomavirus
  • Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD)

To find out how to insure small mammals such as guinea pigs, hamsters or ferrets, read our small mammal insurance guide

[1]According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association's 2021 Pet Population Survey, there are 1.3m indoor birds, 0.4m tortoises/turtles, 0.4m snakes, 0.4m lizards, 0.2m rats, 0.1m ferrets, 0.2m frogs/toads and 0.1m newts/salamanders kept as pets in the UK. 3.1m from these groups alone.