Tracie’s first sighting of an axolotl 
[which she can neither spell nor pronounce]

I’m proud and excited to announce the launch of my new podcast EXOTIC PETS, alongside my co-host Dr. Doug Mader. I figured a word of explanation was in order about why I am sitting myself across a microphone from a world-renowned and beloved exotic animal veterinarian to create this show – about creatures I know practically nothing about?! I can’t tell one slithering creature from another (I cannot even pronounce some of them!) but I’m eager to learn and understand peoples’ attraction to them.

My areas of devotion to non-human species have been mostly relegated for two decades to the science and theory of the physical and emotional issues of dogs and cats – earning me the moniker “pet wellness advocate.” I spent years researching and writing both “The Dog Bible” Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know” and “The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know;” in addition, I continue to immerse myself in the ongoing study of both species, so I feel comfortable interviewing experts anywhere in the world about these animals on Dog Talk (and Kitties, Too!). But exotic pets? I know virtually nothing – but am fascinated by the hundreds of different species and the people who embrace them (not always literally!)

Why me? Why now?

Along the path of creating over 850 hour-long “Dog Talk” weekly shows on NPR, and many dozens of episodes of my podcast “Humane Talk,” I have read about the rich lives of many wild and domesticated creatures. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing dozens of brilliant doctors, scientists and authors whose lives have been dedicated to the study of those creatures. I’ve become aware of the intelligence and sentience of animals very different from humans, cats and dogs – along with the realization that millions of people choose to live with these Other Animals in their homes. I wanted to know the What, Why and How of that different kind of human-animal bond. 

Enter Dr. Doug Mader, Veterinarian to the “Other” Animals

I met Dr. Doug Mader by way of his excellent book “The Vet at Noah’s Ark: Stories of Survival from an Inner City Animal Hospital.” I discovered a veterinarian who was passionate about the wellbeing of exotic animals, had wonderful stories to tell, and was universally acclaimed for his expertise. He was also dedicated to traveling to veterinary conferences around the world to educate other veterinarians on the topic of care for exotic pets, especially with reptiles and amphibians.

Dr Doug with Caspar, his patient of 15 years
Photo credit Christopher Gillette

When I interviewed Dr. Mader on the radio I learned he wanted an avenue to share his advice and expertise not just with professionals, but also potential owners and existing guardians of exotic animals, to educate them about the requirements and joys of having exotics as pets. We shared a desire to salute the Human Animal Bond wherever it exists.

This show made sense particularly because I know so very little (maybe like some of the listeners?) and Dr. Doug knows so very much! He’s eager to impart wisdom, I’m a sponge for information. Tune in, listen and learn from Dr. Doug alongside me. Let’s go on this adventure together!

With a Little Help from Our Friends at Zoo Med

Podcasts are free to the listeners, but it requires resources to create the shows and get them out to the world. When I first made podcasts nearly 15 years ago, iTunes was basically the only avenue to download and listen. Fast forward to now, when I have my own little network of pet talk podcasts and people have a world of choices of podcast platforms that stream my shows. However, without the support of a sponsor you can’t get the hot air balloon to lift off very high or go very far.  We are incredibly grateful and honored to have Zoo Med Laboratories sponsoring our show, which assures us that it can reach everyone who wants our “exotic information.”  If you have exotics or are thinking of getting any, please make Zoo Med Labs your first stop for necessities.