As humans, kissing those we love comes naturally. And kissing our pets is our way of showing how much we love them.
But pets, particularly exotics such as reptiles and amphibians harbor a number of bacteria that can affect humans. Even the adorable hedgehog may carry salmonella.
Your exotic pet may not be as fastidious as we like. If a bit of fecal matter is present on the area we’ve kissed, bacteria such as salmonella, e.coli, MRSA can be transferred to us.
Other concerns are parasites that are not visible to the naked eye – toxoplasma, giardia, coccidia, cuniculi and more. Animal bites, while some may seem minor at the time of the bite, should be treated. Serious infections can result.
Young children, the elderly and people who are immune-compromised are more prone to disease. They should be told not to kiss a pet and should be supervised when handling one.
Use common sense when handling your exotic pet. Not all animals enjoy kissing or being held. A stressed or aggressive or hungry pet may use biting or scratching as a defense. Get to know your pet’s personality and how to handle him/her without injuring you or your pet.
Keep safe and after handling your exotic pet, scrub and wash hands thoroughly. The rule of thumb is to wash long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice or for at least 20 seconds.