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The most exotic pets you can own

Happy Asian man presenting a cute Sugar Glider in his hand.

Are you considering a new pet? Dogs, cats, and goldfishes are the most common pets that people own. If you are unsure of which pet you would like to adopt, take a look at these unusual furry friends that you can own!

Happy man presenting a cute Sugar Glider in his hand. Image via Depositphotos.

How do you know whether you can own an exotic pet

Map of endangered animals around the globe. Image via Depositphotos.

Owning exotic pets in the United States is subject to a complex web of federal, state, and local regulations. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits the possession, sale, and transport of species listed as endangered or threatened without a special permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. So before considering to buy an exotic animal, make sure they are not endangered. Each state also has its own regulations regarding pets, some states have very strict laws banning the ownership of certain species, while others have more lenient regulations.

Things to consider before acquiring an exotic pet

Permit stamp. Image via Depositphotos
  • Research: Thoroughly research both federal and state regulations before acquiring an exotic pet.
  • Permits: Ensure all necessary permits and licenses are obtained.
  • Veterinary Care: Find a veterinarian experienced with the specific exotic species.
  • Liability: Be aware of potential liability issues, including insurance requirements and the risk of injury or disease transmission.

Capybara

Capybara
Capybara. By Marie Hale – https://www.flickr.com/photos/15016964@N02/5909847864/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=114418219

The capybara is the world’s largest rodent, weighing up to 140 lbs. They can live for 8-12 years and feed mainly on grasses. Capybaras are semi-aquatic and require access to water for swimming. They are highly social animals and do best with other capybaras so keeping at least two together is recommended to prevent loneliness and stress.

Serval

serval cat plays with baby
Image by Raccoon TV via YouTube

A Serval is a medium-sized wild African cat who can live up to 19 years. They need a large, secure outdoor enclosure with trees, water features, and hiding places to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. They require regular check-ups with a veterinarian to keep an eye on common health issues like dental problems, parasites, and nutritional deficiencies.

Chinchilla

chinchilla
A large chinchilla smelling the flowers. Image by Nyusha Svoboda via Unsplash

Chinchillas are fluffy cuties that are irresistible to touch. Chinchilla fur is so dense that it’s very difficult for water to penetrate to its skin. To clean themselves, chinchillas bathe in dust, which absorbs dirt and oil from their fur. Generally, chinchillas are legal to own in most places in the United States. However, it’s always best to check local ordinances and housing regulations to ensure there are no restrictions.

Wallaroo

Wallaroo staring in the camera. Image by Iván Lojko via Unsplash.

The term “wallaroo” is a mix, or portmanteau, of “kangaroo” and “wallaby.” Likewise, a wallaroo is not quite as big as a kangaroo, but not quite as small as a wallaby. Wallaroos are not domesticated and can exhibit unpredictable behavior, including aggression when frightened or stressed. Owning a Wallaroo as a pet requires extensive preparation, a suitable living environment, and a deep understanding of their behavior and needs.

Axolotl

Axolotl
Underwater Axolotl portrait close up in an aquarium. Mexican walking fish. Ambystoma mexicanum. Image by cherokee4 via depositphotos.com

Axolotls, also known as Mexican walking fish, are unique amphibians that make fascinating pets due to their distinct appearance and relatively straightforward care requirements. A single axolotl requires at least a 20-gallon tank, with additional space needed if housing more than one. Axolotls need to be fed with a diet of high-quality, protein-rich foods such as earthworms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and specially formulated axolotl pellets.

Kinkajou

Kinkajou. Image via depositphotos.com

A Kinkajou is a small arboreal mammal native to Central and South America. They are social animals that require regular interaction with their human caregivers. They can bond strongly with their owners but may exhibit aggressive behaviors if not properly socialized. Their nocturnal nature means they will be most active and potentially noisy at night, which can be disruptive. Kinkajous can live up to 25 years

Pacman Frog

Horned frog. Image via Depositphotos

Pacman Frogs are also known as the South American horned frog. They were named after the famous video game due to their characteristic large mouth and voracious appetite. A single adult Pacman frog can be housed in a 10 to 20-gallon tank. Although they are not very active, they still need enough space to move around comfortably. It is important that the tank’s humidity and temperature gets monitored.

Degu

Girl playing with Degu pet. Image via Depositphotos.

Degus are small, social rodents native to Chile, known for their playful and curious nature. Degus bond more easily with their owners than hamsters or gerbils due to their intelligence, and occasionally “groom” their handlers by giving them gentle nibbles. Most Degu owners feed their pets Degu pellets, yet hay is essential for their digestive health as well as fresh vegetables.

Hedgehog

Hedgehog
Cute Hedgehog. Image via Unsplash

Hedgehogs have a short lifespan of 3-8 years and they are native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Hedgehogs are increasingly popular as pets due to their unique appearance and relatively easy care requirements. They need a spacious enclosure, with a minimum of 2-3 square feet of floor space and multiple hiding spots to make them feel secure. Like Hamsters, an exercise wheel is essential for their physical health. Hedgehog ownership is legal in most states in the US.

Genet

A female common genet in the dining room, Satao Camp. Image via Depositphotos.

Genets are small, nocturnal mammals native to Africa, known for their agility, curiosity, and distinct appearance. Genets are generally solitary and may not be as affectionate as other pets. They can be socialized with regular, gentle interaction but should have their own space to retreat to. Their nocturnal nature means they are active and noisy at night, which might not suit everyone’s lifestyle.

Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider. Image via Depositphotos

The sugar glider is a marsupial that carries its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. Skin membranes that stretch between its front and rear legs allow it to “glide” through the air for up to 150 meters. They should be housed in a large, tall cage to accommodate their gliding and climbing activities. It should include branches, ropes, gliding surfaces, hammocks, and pouches to mimic their natural habitat and keep them mentally stimulated. Providing a suitable habitat with appropriate temperature and humidity, a balanced diet, regular veterinary care, and social interaction are key to ensuring their health and happiness.

Should you consider getting an exotic pet?

Decision balancer. Image by Peggy_Marco via Pixabay.

Getting an exotic pet can be a rewarding experience, but it comes with significant responsibilities and challenges. Exotic pets require specific habitats and caring routines which may be challenging to replicate correctly. However, when meeting their requirements you can form a strong bond with the pet and provide good companionship. If you decide to proceed, ensure you source your pet ethically and responsibly, and be prepared to provide a lifetime of care and enrichment for your new companion.

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