Over the years, Marc Morrone, resident animal expert and co-owner of Parrots of the World, has had almost every kind of pet imaginable. He adopted his first pet, a parakeet, when he was 4 years old and by the time he was 18, his collection of animals had outgrown his family's house. Each of them taught him valuable lessons about being a petkeeper, which he chronicles in his book, "A Man for All Species."
Keeping birds of prey taught Marc the difference between a domesticated animal and a wild animal. Even if born in captivity, falcons can't be considered domesticated, since nothing about the bird has been altered by selective breeding.
Marc has kept ferrets since his youth, and he credits these furry minks with introducing him to the petkeeping cultures of other countries. Since they're small, clean, and quiet, ferrets are perfect for the average Japanese apartment, and he's worked extensively with the animals in that country. They're very happy, playful, and just as aware of humans as dogs and cats.
Marc credits pigeons as the ultimate survivors: Whatever obstacles life throws in front of pigeons, they will do their best to get through them. The first wild pigeons were tamed by man about 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Renowned for their bravery, pigeons carried messages for armies during World Wars I and II.
Chinchillas hold a special place in Marc's heart, as they were the first animals he gave to Martha. Found only in the high, rocky cliffs of the Andes Mountains in South America, chinchillas use their stubby toes to cling to rocks, just as mountain goats cling to cliff sides with their special hooves. Known for their soft fur, they have 60 hairs coming out of each follicle.
An iguana named Puff figured prominently in Marc's life. After living with Puff for several years, Marc learned that reptiles are sentient, aware of their environment, and able to have a social relationship with humans. Iguanas can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh 15 pounds or more, so they aren't the ideal pet for everyone. Many smaller, easier-to-keep reptiles, such as the bearded dragon, are just as smart as iguanas and make great pets, especially for people who are allergic to dogs or cats.