Dogs and cats make loving pets, they’re always ready to greet you when you arrive home. Not all hearts crave something soft and fluffy, many of us are drawn to the grace and the beauty in the detail of exotic animals.
Snakes, spiders, lizards, toads and other strange and the other weird and wonderful creatures seem to hold a magic that is unique to them. It’s not the kind of magic that makes you want to kiss them, it’s more like a fascination. You can examine these creatures closely and find yourself in awe of them, over and over again.
As with all who choose the path less travelled, there are challenges associated with caring for exotic pets. Health is a primary concern, and the cornerstone to good health lies in nutrition. While well-meaning shop attendants may suggest a particular type of feed, all creatures require greens to assist with digestion and to provide essential nutrients, like chlorophyll.
Herbs and greens also have powerful healing properties, knowing which herbs to use for which problems can offer a natural and DIY-friendly way to keep your exotic pet happy and healthy. Here is a handy guide, providing the names of specific greens to include in your exotic pet’s diet – these tips apply to dogs and cats, too.
1. Grasses for phytonutrients
Dog grass, cat grass, and lemongrass will give your exotic pet, especially reptiles, a good dose of healthy phytonutrients (raw plant nutrition that feeds each cell in the body). These grasses also assist with good digestion, and digestion is the point at which vitamins and minerals are absorbed. Assisting digestion is a crucial step to good health.
2. Herbs for digestion
Speaking of digestion and its importance, try to include a wealth of coriander, thyme, fennel, rosemary and mint to mealtimes to give your pet the best digestion for the best nutrition absorption.
3. Protein with a side of salad for better health
While exotic pets, like reptiles, enjoy a protein-rich diet filled with various insect species, they also love a little salad on the side. Provide them with Asian greens like Mizuna, Pak Choi lettuce, rocket, parsley, nasturtiums, celery, coriander, and those little yellow dandelions that pop up all over the lawn.
4. Greens for parasite protection
Combat worms and parasites by including lots of oregano, thyme, and yarrow in the diet. These herbs help to minimise the parasite population internally, by creating a hostile environment for them to breed and live in. If you suspect a problem, up your dose of these herbs but seek help when necessary.
5. Fresh leaves to ease arthritis and inflammation
Arthritis and inflammation can be painful and potentially affects every creature. Help to neutralise the acidity levels in the blood to ease the inflammation by incorporating Comfrey leaves, Gotu Kola, parsley, celery, and yarrow.
6. Herbs to improve general health and immunity
Boost your pet’s general health well-being and immune system by including yarrow, borage, pennywort, and comfrey leaves.
The herbs and greens mentioned above are easy to grow and make beautiful pot plants if arranged correctly. Visit your local GCA Garden Centre to source seedlings, seeds, pot plants, growing medium, and expert guidance on getting started.