Dog attacks are usually the ones we see in news headlines when it comes to people being bitten by pets. However, as we know at the law office of Goldstein & Goldstein, LLP, dogs are not the only pets that can cause harm. You and other New Jersey residents should understand the risks also associated with other pets that are not commonly known as man’s best friend.

Pets that are known as “exotic” to veterinarians, such as reptiles, birds and rodents, are increasingly causing illnesses and injuries to pet owners and others across the country, according to the National Center for Biotechnology. You might not consider a bite from a parakeet or a scratch from a gerbil to be serious, but vets warn that many exotic pets can carry germs and bacteria that make people sick. Psittacosis, or parrot fever, is a bacterial infection that can be caused by a bird bite or even by kissing a pet bird on the beak. Reptiles and rodents may carry pathogens transmitted by a scratch or bite, or by not washing your hands after holding the animal. Some exotic pets can cause serious injuries. In one case, a 17-year-old boy’s finger was fractured, and he required stitches from a six-inch gash after he was bitten by his friend’s large parrot.

This information is not intended to make you fear exotic pets or animals in general. However, you should be aware of the risks, as well as your options in pursuing compensation from a negligent pet owner, as our page on animal bites explains.