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There are so many reasons to adopt instead of shop for an animal, and the cruelty within the pet trade is a major one. Many people throughout the U.S. go into legal pet stores to purchase an animal, completely unaware that the pet stores might support the illegal wildlife trade and other unethical practices.

It’s not just dogs and cats that are victims of pet stores either, but a range of exotic animals like reptiles and rodents. And sometimes, those exotic “pets” are taken right from the wilderness to spend their lives in tiny cages.

It’s cruel and unethical and often leads to health issues and poor quality of life for the animals in question. A good example of this is Cousin, an Indonesian white tree frog. Cousin has become a bit of an Internet star, with many people “obsessed” with his unusual appearance. However, his “cute” face is a result of a poor diet and lifestyle and shouldn’t be praised.


Cousin is believed to have been taken from the wild in Indonesia and sold into the U.S. pet trade. Like many animals in the pet trade, Cousin’s needs were not being met and he became deficient in calcium, resulting in his limbs curving.

Because of his curved limbs and poor diet, Cousin couldn’t hop and climb like most frogs and he began to put on some weight. While most white tree frogs max out their weight around 50 grams, Cousin grew to be a staggering 144 grams. He was so big, his owner gave him away because she feared for her other pet frogs who lived in the same enclosure.

Cousin bounced around from home to home until he finally landed at the BeWild Reptile Rescue in North Carolina. The rescue rehabilitates pet reptiles that were improperly cared for, and Cousin fit right into that category.

The rescue worked with Cousin for over a year, and successfully got him to lose 20 grams, leaving him around 70 grams overweight.

For some reason, the rescue is struggling to help him lose additional grams, so he remains at an obese weight.

Because of his size, Cousin will likely spend the rest of his life (white tree frogs live 15-20 years) in a small enclosure without other frogs. Tree frogs thrive in a group setting, but Cousin will never get to experience socialization, and the rescuers admitted to GeoBeats Animals that they mostly leave him alone in his cage.

Cousin could’ve spent his life as a free frog in the wilderness of Indonesia, living a full and happy life. But because of the exotic pet trade and people and pet shops in the U.S. supporting that trade, he’ll live out his days at an unhealthy weight, in a small enclosure by himself.

It’s no life for a frog to live, and it highlights just how cruel and unethical the exotic pet trade is. These animals are taken from their natural habitats -with many of them dying during transport or capture -and forced to live with humans, who often don’t understand what they need. Then they are discarded or ignored when people grow tired of them.

Sign this petition to end the exotic animal trade worldwide.

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