If you’re looking for a something a little “different” for a pet, you’ve come to the right place! While there are many more choices, I am listing just 10 exotic animals as pets for now but will also be adding more exotic animals as pets individually and with much more information.
Always research, before buying, if the exotic animal you want is legal to have in your area. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting a special license. Now, let’s get started and, these are in no particular order!
1. Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons are native to Australia but are the most popular reptile kept as pets in the United States. These cute, friendly lizards make excellent first pets for many families wanting reptiles. They make great pets for kids because they have a calm nature and are relatively easy to care for. They can grow to be up to two feet long, so you’ll need ample space for them to live in your home. Although they do love to be held and handled, you’ll still want to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Bearded dragons are legal to own in the United States, but in order to get one, you may have to obtain a license first.
Although not always an ideal pet for everyone, the serval is an incredibly beautiful exotic cat that comes from the African continent. Owning a serval requires a different mindset than owning a domestic cat. Servals aren’t typically aggressive, but they can be difficult to own as they are still considered “wild.” These beautiful animals can be very affectionate, but they have survival instincts that you may not be able to train. Regardless, they can make great companions!
The states in which owning a serval is legal make up about half of the United States. It’s legal to own a serval in Nevada, Idaho, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia without a license required. You can obtain a license to own a serval in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Maine.
It is illegal to own one of these big cats in all other states.
3. Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes also come from the African continent and are the smallest breed of fox in the world, only reaching about four pounds when fully grown. Their behavior closely resembles that of both a dog and a cat. Usually playful and energetic like a dog, the fennec fox is also independent like a cat – although they don’t usually favor dog or cat toys. They typically live to be 10 to 15 years old, so buying a fennec fox is a commitment, like most pets.
It is legal to own a fennec fox everywhere in the United States except Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, and Washington.
The capybara is the largest rodent and can weigh up to 140 pounds, but they sure are cute! They’re semi-aquatic animals, so if you’re looking to adopt a capybara, they’ll definitely need access to water in order to swim around. Although mostly adorable and sweet, capybaras can be a challenging pet. They do better in groups, so pet owners should avoid getting a single capybara.
This semi-aquatic rodent is legal to own in Texas and Pennsylvania. In some states, they are legal but require licenses. If you’re unsure, check with your local registration before deciding to bring home a capybara as a pet.
They sure are adorable – but is a hedgehog the right pet for you? Caring for a hedgehog can be similar to the care you would give to rodents like hamsters or guinea pigs but, hedgehogs are NOT rodents, and they do not have a propensity to chew, gnaw on, or destroy their surroundings. Hedgehogs don’t bark or squawk and won’t disturb their neighbors. You might hear your hedgehog running on a squeaky wheel or rearranging its cage furniture, but for the most part, hedgehogs are very quiet pets. Hedgehogs do not have dander like cats, dogs, or other animals, so they are a better pet option for people who have allergies. Also, hedgehogs are not aggressive by nature and their spines are used as a defense only when they are scared, nervous, or feel they have reason to protect themselves. Hedgehogs are cute, curious and they can be cuddly!
It’s legal to own a hedgehog in most states around the United States. However, there are a few places where it’s still illegal – Pennsylvania, Hawaii, California, Georgia, Arizona, and Maine. Although, you may be able to own one with a permit in these states.
6. Hyacinth Macaw
Hyacinths are typically around 40 inches in length from the beak to the tip of the tail and weigh in at 2 to 3 pounds. They have a wing span of 4 feet so they must be given adequate time to exercise and room for a good stretch. It is a good idea to give a Hyacinth a minimum of 1-2 hours of time on a play gym or other safe area per day to maintain their muscles. These big birds also need to chew to maintain their beak and jaws, so plenty of chewable toys are a must for these big beautiful birds. A Hyacinth in captivity can live beyond the age of 60 years depending on the quality of care it receives. Diet is especially important. Known as “gentle giants”, the Hyacinths are very affectionate birds by nature. Hyacinth Macaws are a deep shade of solid blue, with bright yellow patches around the eyes and beak. Hyacinth Macaws are easily trained using positive reinforcement and tend to bond strongly with their human caregivers.
Even though you can own this beautiful bird as a pet, they’re still considered endangered with only 2,500-5,000 left in the wild. They’re costly so you may want to consider rescue groups. Hyacinth macaws are legal in most states as long as they are obtained legally (not stolen or imported) and the proper documentation is completed.
Although there is no doubt they’re absolutely adorable, chimpanzees can be difficult pets. A chimpanzee’s lifespan can be upwards of 50 years, meaning you’re signing up for a lifelong commitment to raising this wild animal.
A male chimp can grow to be around 150 pounds and is at least twice as strong as humans. Designing an enclosure for your new pet may be difficult as it’ll need to be extremely durable. Chimps really do belong in the wild, but if you’re properly trained and have experience with primates, you may be in luck.
Owning a chimpanzee is illegal in most states throughout the country, but you may be able to obtain a license to own one in a few states like Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or North Dakota. Although some states don’t necessarily have “regulations” against owning a chimpanzee, you’ll still need to check with your state first.
The chinchilla, who is nocturnal, is a member of the rodent family but is (unfortunately) one of the more destructive ones. Owning a chinchilla takes a special kind of expertise and patience. They don’t like to be cuddled, but they love to run around and play. They can get bored relatively easily so they’ll need lots of “fun” things to entertain them. Search online for toys and snacks specific to them. They are really inquisitive so, most of the fun you have is watching them have fun!
As long as the chinchilla is obtained legally (not captured from the wild), it is legal to own one in most states – no license required.
9. Ball Python
Ball pythons are named for their habit of curling themselves up into a tight ball. In the same snake family as boas, ball pythons are a type of constrictor snake – meaning they kill their prey by constricting and suffocating them. Although smaller than boas, pythons can reach up to three or four feet long and live for an average of 20 to 30 years. Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease. For this reason, pregnant women, children under 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider not having a reptile as a pet.
Maybe not surprisingly, ball pythons are illegal to own in Florida (unless you have a permit prior to 2010), New York, Hawaii, and some cities in California. They’re legal in most other places and don’t require a license to own.
Closely resembling the kangaroo, wallabies are often referred to as “mini kangaroos.” They are extremely common in the wild in Australia but can be seen around the United States as pets. Housing a wallaby is fairly simple but you must have ample, secure space to allow them to run and hide when desired. A minimum of a six foot by six-foot outdoor enclosure is needed to allow them space to run and graze outside. They do well with both warm and cool weather but will need supplemental heat or to be housed indoors when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. Wallabies can also be kept indoors and allowed to run around in a wallaby-safe environment and then kept in a secure, large enclosure or small bedroom when unsupervised.
Wallabies are truly exotic, as they are not like any pet you’ve owned before. If you’re considering getting a wallaby as a companion, you’ll want to do lots of research before bringing one home.
Wallabies are illegal to own inside many city limits. Check with your state before deciding to look for a wallaby as a pet. In some instances, you may need to obtain a license first.