Parrots and Ferrets and Snakes, Oh My! 9 Unique Service Animals

Parrots and Ferrets and Snakes, Oh My! 9 Unique Service Animals

The title “Man’s Best Friend” is usually reserved for dogs, but that doesn’t mean they have the market cornered on service animals. Here are 9 other companions who are indispensable aids to their owners—no woofing required.

1. Parrots

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One particular parrot named Sadie has done wonders to help her owner, Jim Eggers of St. Louis, Missouri. Eggers suffers from bipolar disorder. When Sadie senses that he’s getting angry, she calms him down by saying ““It’s OK, Jim. Calm down, Jim. You’re all right, Jim. I’m here, Jim.” Now that’s a great companion!

2. Ferrets

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People’s opinions of these little critters are rather divisive. You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. But regardless of your gut reaction, there’s no doubt ferrets make great psychiatric service animals. They’ve been trained to alert handlers to take medication, and they can even help them through the experience of having a panic attack or seizure. 

3. Boa Constrictors

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You might think that the only thing snakes are good for is bothering Samuel L. Jackson while he’s flying. However, boa constrictors have been used successfully to assist people who suffer from seizure disorders. When their handlers are about to suffer a seizure, the snakes will squeeze their necks to let them know to find a safe place to wait until the episode passes.

4. Mini Horses

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People with visual impairments often use mini horses as guide animals. Many people actually prefer these little equines to dogs because they’re less aggressive.

5. Pigs

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Pigs are often given a bad rap because, well…they’re pigs. However, they actually make great emotional support pets for people who suffer from panic attacks. Unfortunately, there have been several cases in which pigs have been kicked out of public places like airports for causing a stink – literally. How rude!

6. Capuchin Monkeys

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Not only are these little guys the cutest things ever, but they might be the most helpful too. Capuchin monkeys are often trained to help physically disabled individuals grasp items and perform tasks like opening doors. Adorable and useful!

7. Guinea Pigs

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In 2013, a Michigan student won a landmark court case that determined her guinea pig does count as a service animal! Apparently, the furball qualifies as a therapeutic pet because it helps her cope with disabilities resulting from her use of a pacemaker. 

8. Dolphins

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Brittany on Glee once said that “dolphins are just gay sharks,” but they’re so much more than that! Dolphins are often used in aquatic therapy to help people confined to wheelchairs experience freedom of movement that they otherwise never would. 

9. Skippy The Service Iguana

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Many people shriek at the sight of iguanas. Not Cosmie Silfa! A recovering addict, Silfa brings Skippy with him everywhere. The iguana acts as a source of comfort for his handler and provides the motivation he needs to stay sober! You go, Skippy!

Beyond just being a friend, these animals prove that dogs aren’t the only ones able to guide their owners through stressful situations. It just goes to show that everyone has unique gifts to offer. Never underestimate the power of unusual pets! 


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