Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the questions we get asked the most! Click on the question to see the answer.

Have a question that is not listed below? Feel free to call or email us and we will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

How did your organization begin?

What are your standards for animal care?

How do you choose which animals to take in? Will you take in my animal?

Isn’t it stressful to bring animals out in public?

How did you get the animals out of the wild?

What is it like having so many exotic animals living in your house?

How much for your Macaw or Lizard?

Are your animals dangerous? Do they bite or scratch?

How did your organization begin?

Hands on Exotics was started by Seth Falk and his friends in 2011.

Seth had pet parrots and avidly attended parrot conferences, read parrot related literature and research, and was a member of parrot clubs and organizations, as well as the aviculture world. In an effort to enrich the lives of their parrots and socialize them on a regular basis he volunteered his time by bringing his parrots to the residents of local senior’s homes. This turned out to not only be a positive experience for the animals, but also for the residents of these homes. The care providers of these seniors have never seen their residents light up as much as they did during these animal visits.

The requests to visit more seniors eventually overwhelmed Seth’s free time. Thus, Hands on Exotics was created to bring affordable pet therapy services to seniors and special needs groups. Seth discovered a huge public craving for the opportunity to meet and learn about animals. Hands on Exotics quickly expanded to also doing educational presentations in addition to their pet therapy visits.

Along the way Seth met many people and families who had animals that needed a new home. He realized that while there are many animal shelters and facilities that take in dogs and cats there are very few who can take in exotic animals like parrots, reptiles, and exotic mammals. Hands on Exotics is now home to roughly 150 adopted animals and continues to take in animals in need of a home whenever possible.

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What are your standards for animal care?

Hands on Exotics happily exceeds industry standards for animal care and welfare. We take pride in providing a high level of care that includes everything from veterinary approved diets based on current scientific research, ample space for the animals to play and exercise, and providing environmental enrichment designed to meet each species unique behavioral needs.

Twice a year we are also inspected by the OSPCA to ensure the welfare, health, and safety of all of our animals. For for information about the OSPCA, visit their website here: http://ontariospca.ca/ 

Additionally, Hands on Exotics is Licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

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How do you choose which animals to take in? Will you take in my animal?

We would love to give a home to every single animal in need. However we have limited space and resources so we cannot say yes to everyone who asks us to take in their animal(s). Housing costs, feeding costs, and veterinary bills are among the many costs involved in caring for animals.

The following are the two main criteria that we consider when taking in a new animal.

1. Do we believe we can adequately care for the animal? Do we have enough space for the animal? Can we provide it the correct diet? Does the animal pose any risks to our staff? Can we adequately quarantine the animal? There are dozens of smaller considerations in addition to these.

2. Is it an animal that will be stressed by exposure or proximity to other animals or to people? Since our space is so limited we prefer to take in animals that would be happy to come out to public programs. Since it is strictly against our policies to bring out animals that are stressed by public interaction and since the care of the animals is extremely expensive and the only funding we get is from our services, the ideal animal adoption for us is an animal that likes people and would be happy with a life that involves educating students at schools and bringing smiles to seniors at nursing homes.

That said there have been a few cases where we have taken in an animal that does not enjoy public interaction. We only accept such animals in extreme cases like when an animal has absolutely nowhere else to go. For example, we took in a toucan over a year ago that was terrified of people. But we took it in because it was in bad shape and our vet at the time said that if we didn’t it would probably not survive in its current home. There are extremely few people and facilities with any experience with this kind of animal. Since this was an animal that was not appropriate for educational or pet therapy programs we were happy to find it a new home at Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls after a long search for a proper home and a lot of expense on our part to take care of it for a year while we found it a good home.

If we cannot take in your animal we may be able to direct you to other facilities, both public and private, as well as organizations such as parrot clubs and social media groups which may be able to help you find a home for your animal or give you further advice.

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Isn’t it stressful to bring animals out in public?

Some animals would certainly be stressed by public interaction. Some animals are not stressed by public interaction. Some animals thrive on and crave public interaction. It depends on the type of animal and the individual animal and its history.

It is strictly against our policies and philosophy to bring out animals to our programs that would be stressed out by the experience. This would be an abusive and unethical practice.

It is equally important to understand that for many animals in our care it would be abusive and unethical to deny them human interaction. The mental and physical health of hyper-social animals like parrots, especially parrots that were raised by and with humans, depends on regular and positive experience with people. Almost all of the animals in our care are ex-pets and are either used to human interaction or positively crave human interaction. Much like a pet dog would suffer without human companionship, so too would a ferret, parrot, or lemur.

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How did you get the animals out of the wild?

None of the animals at our shelter came from the wild or were taken from their natural habitats. They were all born in captivity. Nonetheless this is a question we get all of the time and is a common (and false) assumption that some people tend to make.

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What is it like having so many exotic animals living in your house?

This is another assumption that some people tend to make that is completely false. We have a large facility for the animals in our care. Many of the animals we care for would not be appropriate to have in a house.

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How much for your Macaw or Lizard?

We are not a pet store and we do not sell any animals to the public, nor are we even allowed to. On the rare occasion that we have to rehome an animal we have severe restrictions regarding where our animals can go to ensure that they will continue to get a high standard of care.

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Are your animals dangerous? Do they bite or scratch?

Our animals are extremely safe. We carefully consider the temperament and behavior of each animal to determine whether it can go out in public at all. If an animal is deemed safe enough to do public programs then careful consideration goes into how long the animal can be out, how much interaction and what kind of human interaction is appropriate if any, and what rules must be in place to do the interaction safely.

That said, no animal related activities can be 100% safe. It is impossible to completely eliminate risk of allergic reactions or injury but we can get very close. Our animal programs are much safer than most other programs and activities such as sports games and school athletics.

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