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Should Australians Keep Native Animals As Pets?

Sick of looking at that dog you adopted during the first lockdown? Have you considered bringing a native animal into your home and caring for it and feeding it and loving it and filming cute videos of it for TikTok?

One biologist thinks this might actually be good for native wildlife. Well, probably not the going viral on TikTok part.

Mike Archer, a palaeontologist out of the University of New South Wales was chatting about it to ABC Radio Perth. He believes that keeping native animals as pets would help them avoid extinction. By having them in your home “What you’re doing is increasing the love and fascination that the average Australian kid has for native animals.”

Kids already love their pet dogs and cats and, to a much lesser extent, their goldfish; imagine how they’d feel toward a five foot ten red kangaroo that sleeps at the end of their bed.

Sure cavoodles are cute, but do you know what’s cuter? A wombat that you put a hat on occasionally. Photos of a hatted wombat? Are you kidding? You’d blow up your Instagram AND, almost as importantly, you’d be helping the native wildlife.

You can already keep some native animals as pets in South Australia and Victoria with a permit. Some wildlife does currently require a special permit that usually only zoos can get. Wombats, for example. So that wombat Instagram account will have to wait.

Professor Archer believes that if Tasmanian tigers had been kept as pets they would be alive today. They’d probably be named things like Tristan and Harmony and they’d feel out of place going for a run at the dog park, but they also wouldn’t have gone extinct in the 1930s.

Having a pet quoll isn’t any weirder than having a cat if you think about it. Cats were once wild animals and now look at them, they get to boss humans around. That could be the solution to saving our native wildlife. Let them into our homes, feed them, give them shelter, and then watch as they take up all the space on the couch.