With their unique looks and their wild-but-wonderful characteristics, the best exotic pets can make for the most unusual of companions.
But what is classified as an exotic pet? Generally speaking, an exotic pet is an animal that is unusual or rare to home as they are generally thought of as a wild species — like a sugar glider, hedgehog or degus — rather than a fully-fledged domesticated creature. If you haven’t got the right care requirements, these loveable creatures can be hard to domesticate and it’s for good reason. After all, many of these wacky wonders were born to be wild, and being out in the open is all they have ever known.
Any pet parent will know that a happy pet is a happy parent. So if you’re considering opening up your home to an exotic animal, it’s important to make sure you can replicate the right living conditions and give them everything (and more) that they need. Plus, it’s also important to note that your ability to own some exotic animals will depend on the state and county in which you live.
Curious to know what other exotic animals you can share your four walls with? From marmoset monkeys to serval cats and anteaters to anacondas, here’s everything you need to know about the best exotic pets.
32 best exotic pets anyone can own
1. Sugar gliders
Half hang-glider, half squirrel, these fancy friends are usually found down under in Australia. You might be wondering if you should keep sugar gliders as pets? Keeping these wild marsupials requires specialized care so do consider this before adopting.
2. Bush baby
You might know bush babies as night monkeys, but these primates are often described as exotic animals because they are rare, uncommon and hard to find.
3. Spotted Genet
Fancy your self a cat-like creature? Look no further than a spotted genet, which is very independent, aloof and indigenous to Africa.
4. Marmoset Monkey
These highly intelligent creatures tend to scent-mark their surroundings so they won’t be the best pairing for every home. But that’s not to say that these primates can’t be kept as pets if you’re up to the challenge.
Exotic and extraordinary in just about every way, these amphibians are best known for their sweet smiles and unusual looks. And despite what you might have heard, you can keep an axolotl as a pet in some U.S. states.
Add some exotic excitement to your aquarium with a saltwater sea animal like an octopus. Just make sure your tank is of adequate size and can replicate their usual habitat with tons of live rock, sand and a fluorescent light.
It’s worth highlighting that tarantulas won’t be the perfect exotic pet for all. However these eight-legged creepy crawlies are low maintenance and live for 10-15 years so it’s no wonder they are favored by many.
Falling between a kangaroo and a wallaby, wallaroos are middle-range marsupials that are extremely curious and active. These exotic beings are banned from being kept as pets in most states, but not all. So be sure to do your research as these laws can change.
9. Serval Cats
Serval cats are rather exotic wild felines that can reach up to 40 pounds in size and have high energy levels. They’re very different from domesticated cats, and have their own list of needs. This means they won’t be the pur-fect pet for most homes as they need space to run, swim, hunt, and climb.
Known for their long tongues, which can scoop up around 35,000 ants at any one time, and because of this, they’re one of the most unusual pets ever owned.
If you’re looking for a fang-tastic pet that will give you all the thrills, an anaconda could be your ideal match. These snakes can make for calm creatures when captive-bred and raised properly.
Kangaroos aren’t you’re usual everyday pet as they can be standoffish with humans. Plus, in some areas of the U.S. it’s illegal to home one and it makes sense. Along with needing lots of room to graze, run, and well…jump, these bouncing beauties can be unpredictable at times too.
13. Leopard gecko
Known as ‘beginner reptiles’, leopard geckos are one of the easiest colourful creatures to handle as they require minimal care requirements in comparison to other lizards.
14. Bearded dragons
Sticking with the reptile theme, Bearded Dragons could make for a great companion as they are docile creations that can live anywhere between 10 to 15 years long, if they’ve got access to good veterinary treatment and a good habitat.
15. Ball Pythons
If you’re thinking about introducing a snake to your home, you might also want to consider a ball python. Growing up to five feet long and being able to live for up to 50 years, these life-long inactive creatures just need a good enclosure, good food, fresh water and they’re happy.
16. Corn snakes
These slender snakes can reach up to 6ft in size and living up to the grand old age of 20 they’re no short-term commitment.
These spikey critters aren’t just garden explorers! Hedgehogs can be kept as pets and are one of the easiest four-legged friends to feed as they will hoover up pretty much any food that’s put in front of them — including dry cat food. Who knew!
Degus are rodents native to Chile and are often likened to hamsters, chinchillas or rats. They’re happy to be handled and looked after — just don’t pull on their tail as they’re able to shed this appendage as a self-defence mechanism.
If you’ve got room for two, a pair of chinchillas could be the best exotic animal for you. These social little creatures are native to the Andes mountains and live in herds in the wild so love nothing more than having their fellow fur friends around them to interact with.
20. Prairie Dogs
You could be forgiven for thinking Prairie dogs are like the usual dogs we know and love. But they are far from it! These active, playful, and sturdy rodents can make fairly affectionate pets if purchased young, socialized properly and given lots of attention.
21. Spiny mice
These talented escape mice aren’t as house-trained as other, perhaps, unwanted rodents are. So if you’re thinking of welcoming one in your home, a glass tank or plastic terrarium is your best bet.
22. Short-Tailed Opossum
What about short-tailed opossums? Hailing from the marsupial family, this mouse-like creature can make for a good pet thanks to its docile nature.
23. Fennec Fox
Ranging in color from reddish cream to a light fawn shade, these desert foxes have bushy tails with black tips. But do note: there are some bans on owning a fennec fox in certain U.S. states.
Skunks can make for unique pets, as they are super playful and require a lot of stimulation. However, if you’re not prone to working from home or tend to spend long hours outside of your four walls, you might come back to find your skunk is up to no good.
25. Emperor Scorpion
Legal to own, emperor scorpions make it onto the list of most exotic pets because they are hard to track down. These creatures are an African rainforest species, but you can also find them present in Savanna. They are relatively docile and usually only show signs of aggression when threatened.
26. Giant African Millipede
More formally known as an Archispirostreptus gigas, giant African millipede can reach up to 15 inches long and make for a great exotic pet for beginners who are OK with having a crawly creature in their home.
27. Savannah cat
Known as the largest domestic feline, the Savannah cat could be the exotic pet your home has been missing. It’s a hybrid between a wild African cat and a domestic kitten. But do note: there are bans against owning one as a pet in certain U.S. states.
28. Bengal cat
Thanks to their striking good looks and outstanding athletic ability, the Bengal cat has earned itself a rep for being one of the most beloved feline breeds. Want to know more? Discover some more fascinating facts about Bengal cats.
Like the sound of owning a pet turtle? Once you’ve done your research and discovered what makes for good pet turtle care, you could have a friend for life (well, for 80 years).
30. Hyacinth Macaw
These pretty parrots, native to central and eastern South America, are intelligent birds that are best known for their bold blue coloring. They can live for around 50 years in captivity and love to go about their day in a pair — so if you’re thinking of homing one, you might need to consider making room for another.
Heard of a Kinkajou? You’d be forgiven if not. The tropical rainforest exotic mammal is related to coatis and raccoons and in some regions, it can be known as a honey bear. Just look how cute!
There are some laws about keeping these South American raccoons as pets. But two types of coati — the white-nosed and South American coatis — have been known to be domesticated.
Wondering what are the most expensive animals in the world? Or curious about the cutest dog breeds? Head this way. We’ve also got guides on the rarest dog breeds and answer what dog breed is the smartest.
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Becks is a freelance lifestyle journalist who has more than 9 years of experience in the world of digital and print journalism. She covers health, wellness and family interests for a range of titles. When she's not putting pen-to-paper (or finger-to-keyboard) she's reading, in the gym, or taking her Dog Aunt title very seriously looking after the handful of four-legged creatures in her life.