Just because they are not traditional therapy animals does not make any less able to provide animal assisted therapy. In fact there are a number benefits to having so called unusual therapy animals.
Therapy Camel: Kazzy is a Bactrain Camel who lives at the Lyon Ranch who loves to give kisses and was featured on an episode of Animal Miracles hosted by Alan Thicke. What makes a camel a good candidate for animal therapy? “Camel hair does not have dander; People who are allergic to cats or dogs have no allergies to camels!” (Lyon Ranch, 2006)
Certified Therapy Alpaca: Jasper is one of the first certified therapy alpacas and he serves with the Inland Empire Pet Partners program. Alpaca fur can be used to make a type of yarn and their odourless pellets make great fertilizer. He enjoys a good brushing by the residents of one of the facilities that he visits. He even has his own Twitter feed @FindJasper
Therapy Parakeet: A seniors residence “employs” a number of therapy parakeets to provide the residents with long term pet therapy. This helps to ensure that the seniors receive the benefits of animal assisted therapy in a steady and consistent manner. One woman in the facility speaks only Russian and having the feathered friend to converse with helps her to feel included and have a sense of belonging.
Therapy Bear: A military mascot intended to keep up morale among the troops inspired the classic Winnie – the – Pooh stories loved by generations.
Miniature Horses: There are many benefits to having a miniature horse as a therapy animal. Some wear special saddle bags for carrying necessities for their handlers. Others have been fitted with custom harnesses and serve in much the same way that guide dogs do. There are even guide horses that assist with mobility by pulling wheelchairs guided by their handlers.
Miniature Donkeys: In addition to serving in much the same way as the miniature horses listed above, Scott & White Children’s Hospital patients receive weekly visits from miniature donkeys that wear shoes and pants and bring smiles to everyone they meet in the ward.
Assistance Parrot: Sadie is a parrot that helps her handler with psychotic and homicidal tendencies. She rides around in a specially designed backpack.
Therapy Snake: A clinic in London, England uses corn snakes as part of their therapy program for addictions, self-harm and eating disorders. The snakes are said to be good candidates because they are tactile, gentle and require concentration during interaction.