While dogs and cats are the pets of choice for the majority of people, in some cases, especially for renters, these pets are not practical, making exotic animals – such as hermit crabs brought home from an impromptu trip to the beach, hamsters that take the place of other furry friends for kids who are learning how to care for a pet or reptiles for people who prefer less furry pets – a growing segment of the pet population.
While exotics represent only a fraction of the population, people who own them are just as passionate about their health and well-being as dogs and cats.
If you are also an essential oil lover, you may wonder if your exotic animals can reap the same benefits.
The answer is of course, as long as you use non-toxic oils in the right way.1
Essential Oils and Pets
The aroma of lavender can calm virtually every living creature. If you have pets and you’re not diffusing a diluted oil into your home, you should because it is a good way to ease stress or prevent it, no matter the type of pet you have. Lavender is just that good.
(I don’t know if it would have worked for my parents, however, who once rescued an abandoned bear cub, feeding it a mix of protein and sweets – the cub learned to love marshmallows and the insides of jelly donuts – so she could survive hibernation on her own. She did survive and later brought along cubs who grew into larger bears who weren’t really suited for the lakefront community, causing my parents to briefly consider tranquilizing the bears for a trek via trailer to my cousin’s more wooded land nearby. Thankfully, they didn’t – I imagined the bears waking up mid-trip, and bouncing like popcorn kernels against the trailer’s sides – but I can’t say even lavender would have helped them with their exotic pet conundrum. But I digress.)
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There are as many different exotic pets as there are exotic oils, and while some work great, others are potentially toxic. Do your homework, and check out the guide we’ve compiled.
Parrots Can Benefit from Essential Oils
You can use essential oils when cleaning your parrot’s cage or you can infuse them in rooms. However, you should carefully dilute them and use no more than 3 or 4 drops at a time. Additionally, the room should be aerated. Essential oils are especially effective if your parrot is new to your home or you have moved to a new environment. Essentials can also zap toxins, creating a more cleansed air for your beauty to breathe.
Adding a drop of oregano oil to your parrot’s food can also be beneficial, and placing essential oils such as lavender mixed with a carrier to the bottom of your parrot’s feet can ease stress.
NOTE: Tea tree essential oil is toxic to parrots, and smaller birds are negatively affected not only by tea tree, but also essential oils including cedarwood, citronella, and pine. Avoid them if you have birds that are not parrots.3
Hydrosols Suit Smaller Mammals
Some experts recommend the use of hydrosols – the by-products of the distillation of essential oils. They maintain the beneficial monoterpenes but erases the phenols and ketones. Phenols and ketones are potentially harmful to smaller animals such as guinea pigs, ferrets, gerbils, rabbits, mice, and hamsters.
Hydrosols of chamomile, rose, lavender, neroli, and geranium can help ease stress. Diluted hydrosols of lavender, rose, geranium and chamomile can gently tend to wounds.4
Reptiles can Benefit From Essential Oil Use
Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash is not the only person in the US with a pet snake. Though he may not use essential oils to help improve the health of his snake, it certainly couldn’t hurt.
One family uses coconut oil to help soothe their snake’s skin as it sheds. They use coconut oil as a carrier for essential oils including frankincense and Helichrysum to help heal wounds too. They also add lavender to a diffuser to help sooth reptiles under stress.5
You can pair lemon and wild orange oils with hot water to help clean reptile cages without toxins.
Oils to avoid to keep your reptilian friends safe include tea tree, black pepper, the wood-based oils including cedarwood, birch, white fir, juniper and eucalyptus, as well as cinnamon, clove, coriander, and jasmine.
Photo credits: JasminkaM/shutterstock.com, Veera/shutterstock.com, IakovFilimonov/shutterstock.com, A3pfamily/shutterstock.com