Personality Traits of Exotic Pet Owners

A recent study was conducted in to how pet ownership can portray a person’s character traits. The study looked at the owners of different types of pets and then compared their personalities. The groups were broadly split into; owners of traditional pets – such as cats and dogs, owners of warm-blooded exotic pets – such as sugar gliders, chinchillas etc., owners of cold-blooded exotic pets – such as snakes and lizards and finally those without pets. They are also most likely to look for ball pythons for sale and other reptiles as pets. Check out these things you need to learn about reptiles if you’re planning to get one. You should also look for small animal veterinarians in your area if you plan to get an exotic small animal as a pet.

The investigation had 250 people take part, each placed into one of the four groups. Differences between the sexes (of the owners) were also recorded. Image Courtesy of Beate

Openness of Cold-Blooded Exotic Pet Owners

The most interesting results were observed between cold-blooded pet owners and traditional pet owners; female traditional pet owners were significantly less open to new experiences than females who owned cold-blooded pets. Thinking about this, it does make sense though and shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Traditional pets are ‘traditional’ for a reason, they have been domesticated for thousands of years and make up a strong part of our culture and heritage. Therefore owning a traditional pet is essentially a ‘normal’ thing to do and not necessarily a new experience. Arguably for someone who has never owned a pet before, getting a new pet, traditional or exotic, can be a very novel experience! Get the right leopard gecko tank size for your pet gecko.

Top 10 Pets of 2011

Cold-blooded exotic pets are typically seen as something unusual to own, just look at the top ten pets of 2011 (source: PFMA):

  • Fish (over 40M) Indoor and Outdoor
  • Dogs (around 8M)
  • Cats (around 8M)
  • Rabbits (around 1M)
  • Birds (around 1M – Indoor)
  • Guinea Pigs (around 1M)
  • Domestic Fowl (over 0.5M)
  • Hamsters (around 0.5M)
  • Horses/Ponies (around 0.3M)
  • Tortoises/Turtles (around 0.3M)

The only cold-blooded exotic pets on the list are Tortoises/Turtles. It makes sense that if you are more likely to own an ‘unusual’ pet you are more likely to be open to new experiences – for example a thrillseeking skydive. But can we generalise to this level? Can we say all cold-blooded exotic pet owners are completely open to new experiences? No, but it is probably a fair assumption.

Interestingly, female cold-blooded exotic pet owners were more open to new experiences than their male counterparts. Is it that owning a cold-blooded exotic pet as a male is ‘more normal’?

Agreeableness of Traditional and Exotic Pet Owners

The study investigated differences in five traits in total, but agreeableness (a person’s tendency to be compassionate and co-operative rather than suspicious and antagonistic) was another trait that revealled some interesting results.

Male cold-blooded exotic pet owners were significantly less agreeable than their female counterparts, which is in keeping with the previous results:

Cold-Blooded Exotic Pet Owner Sex









Male cold-blooded exotic pet owners are, on average, less open to new experiences and less agreeable than their female counterparts. Interestingly male cold-blooded exotic pet owners were also less agreeable than males who owned traditional pets.


The results from this study concluded that the above results, along with other results obtained from this study and previous investigations into character traits of owners, indicate that personality may affect choice of pets. However the choice of pet on the basis of personality goes in different directions for the two sexes.

Your Thoughts

Do you agree with the findings of this study or are you an open, agreeable, male, cold-blooded exotic pet owner who feels like this study didn’t do you much justice? As ever we’d love to hear your thoughts (especially the cold-blooded exotic pet owners out there), so leave a comment below.

Adapted from: A. Hergovich, et al. (2011). `Exotic Animal Companions and the Personality of Their Owners’. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals pp. 317-327.

About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend! Currently developing PetSci HealthTrak, the fast and easy way to monitor your pet's weight and calorie intake. HealthTrak offers a simple way to track your pet's progress, helping them achieve a healthy weight and a long, happy life.

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One comment

  1. MelishMarmelade

    As a female cold-blooded exotic pet owner (mucho serpentes ), I completely agree!
    Thought it would be easier to find a date at the reptile show! Whoops!

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