Exotic Pets You Didn’t Know You Can Own

So you’re looking to adopt a new pet. You go to your local pet shop and peruse the fish section, browse the budgie enclosures, skim through the mice cages, and flip through your local classifieds for puppies to no avail. Maybe you’re allergic to cats and dogs, but still want a larger pet. Perhaps you’re just looking for something a little more unique than your average household pet. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of interesting exotic pets that you may not have known that you can own. Whichever you choose to adopt, always make sure to check your local laws and regulations. Some states and counties have rules or outright bans on owning certain exotic pets.

 

Wallabies

Wallby- Cool Exotic Pet

Who didn’t dream of having a pet kangaroo as a kid? While not quite as big as their cousins, wallabies are undeniably adorable. So, if you have a yard with a tall fence and time to spare, you might be able to hop over to your local exotic pets breeder.

Basic Information

There are many different types of wallabies, but the kind most commonly kept as pets are Bennetts wallabies. Typically, these marsupials grow to 2.5-3 feet tall, live for about 12 years, and weigh between 30 and 60 pounds. Keep in mind that these are not domesticated animals, cannot be house-broken, and are expensive to keep for some.

Personality

Although not truly tamable, wallabies are known for being affectionate and social. However, not every wallaby is the same and some may be anxious or less docile. When bottle fed and “pouch” raised from a young age, they can create lasting bonds with their owners.

Housing

If you live in a warm climate, your wallaby can stay outdoors year round. They can also thrive in cool environments, but will need an extra heat source if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In cold temperatures, wallabies can be housed indoors in a spare room or cordoned off area. Their enclosure should be at least 6 feet wide and 6 feet long with a tall fence. If housed outdoors, make sure that none of the plants in your pet’s enclosure are toxic or sprayed with pesticides

Food

Usually, wallabies eat a diet consisting of grass and little else. To keep your pet healthy, offer an unlimited supply of chemical free sweet grass or timothy hay and water. You can supplement their diet with wallaby pellets (purchase online), fruits like grapes and apples, and recommended vitamins.

Health

To keep your wallaby healthy, you should take it to the vet annually, or any time you notice issues. Unfortunately, it is common for them to get parasites such as round worms. To avoid this, take a stool sample to your exotic animal vet each visit. Another common health issue is a deficiency in Vitamin E and selenium- supplement their food with approved vitamins to prevent this.

 


Capybaras

exotic pet capybara

Weighing in at a whopping 108 pounds on average, capybaras are the largest rodents on planet earth. If you have lots of time, space and patience to spare, a capybara may be the perfect exotic pet for you! These semi-aquatic rodents resemble a mix between a pig and a guinea pig, standing two feet tall with a max weight of 170 pounds.

Basic Info

Capybaras are large animals, comparable in size to a Labrador dog, meaning that they need lots of space. Similar to the aforementioned wallaby, these creatures require plenty of room for their enclosure.

Personality

Capybaras are social animals used to spending all of their time with others of the same species. Due to this, seekers of exotic pets should avoid adopting only one capybara. However, housing two male capybaras together can be problematic as they tend to fight. When hand raised from babies, these animals can become very docile and love spending time with their human family.

Housing

Considering the fact that you need to adopt at least two, your capybaras’ enclosure should have plenty of space for them to move around in, at least 12 feet by 20 feet. The most important thing is that your pets have a body of water to swim in that is 3 feet deep or more, as well as shady areas to retreat to. Capybaras have very dry skin that needs constant hydration, so they tend to spend a lot of time in water. Fairly resilient animals, they can live outside most of the time, however in temperatures under 45 degrees Fahrenheit they may need special heating and lighting.

Food

The main staple of your capybara’s diet should be grass hay offered in unlimited piles. To give them a more natural experience, you can spread the piles out, simulating grazing as they would in the wild. To supplement the grass hay, your pet should be fed guinea pig pellets containing vitamin D, as well.

Health

Aside from their vitamin D deficiency, capybaras are usually fairly hardy animals. Similarly to other rodents, capybaras are at higher risk for experiencing respiratory infections. Additionally, they may become infected with mites or lice in their fur easily if living in unsanitary conditions.


 

Pygmy Goats

pygmy goat

Goats are cute, but miniature goats? Even cuter. As long as you have a fenced-in yard, you’re nearly set for your fuzzy friend!

Basic Info

Standing at about 2 feet tall and weighing around 75 pounds, these stocky, compact goats are full of personality. While each animal has a distinct, individual personality, they are usually playful, aloof, and friendly overall.

Personality

While comparable to dogs, the personality of pygmy goats isn’t quite as openly affectionate as their canine pals. They can learn their names, come when called, and may lovingly headbutt you from time to time, but they do not enjoy cuddling much. These exotic pets are social creatures, and require the company of another animal to be happy. It is recommended that you get another goat, donkey, pony, or another comparable animal.

Housing

Before you get your heart set on a pygmy goat, check out your local livestock laws- some areas don’t allow livestock to be kept in suburban backyards. If no regulations exist for your region, all that you need to house your pygmy goat is a large, dog-house-like structure with a ledge inside for the goat to sleep on. These animals hate the rain, and need a shelter to avoid getting wet.

Food

Grass, grass hay, and blackberry bushes are favorites among pygmy goats. To supplement these, most owners give some sweet grain, bread, carrots, or apples as treats. Fresh water should always be available.

Health

Pygmy goats require regular care, including hoof trimming every 4-6 weeks. Additionally, they require vaccinations, regular checkups, and regular deworming. Debudding (horn removal) and castration should be performed when the goat is very young to minimize the traumatic experience.


 

Skunks

When you picture a skunk, you probably imagine a cartoonish, smelly creature that everyone avoids. Conversely, the reality of keeping skunks as exotic pets is that they are usually surgically de-scented, smart, and playful.

Basic Info

These mammals can live for up to 10 years, and are usually full grown at 15-35 inches long. When kept as pets, skunks often have their musk and scent glands removed at a very young age so that they cannot spray you.

Personality

Skunks are a good pet for an advanced animal keeper, as they do require a lot of care. Undoubtedly, this is largely due to their stubborn nature that labels them at high-maintenance pets. Fortunately, the pros outweigh the cons for many people and their loving, entertaining, friendly personality tends to win everyone over.

Housing

You should keep your skunk indoors as its main defense (its spray) has been removed. Indoors, a very large dog kennel can work to contain your pet while you’re out of the house, however when you’re able to supervise them they should be allowed to roam free though your house. Outdoors, you should have a 6 by 6 foot pen with a 3 foot fence and a small shelter attached. Potty training can be achieved, however it may be very difficult in the beginning.

Food

You have a few options when it comes to feeding these exotic pets- you can purchase a commercial food mix online, or feed them a diet of 60-70% animal protein and 30-40% fresh or thawed frozen vegetables. Every once in a while, you should also give your skunk a few nuts, cooked grain, yogurt, or a bit of dog food. It is okay for them to eat fruit as a treat, though it should not be given daily. Additionally, you should make sure that your pet has access to clean water at all times.

Health

Similarly to cats and dogs, skunks require vaccines against common feline and canine diseases, need to be dewormed, and must be spayed or neutered at a young age. Before adopting your new pet, make sure that there is a vet in the area that will treat them.


 

Emperor Scorpion

pet scorpion

While not for the faint of heart, scorpions are incredibly interesting exotic pets. These creepy crawlies are perfect for those who have smaller spaces but still want something to take care of.

Basic Info

Quiet, clean, and easy to take care of, scorpions are increasingly popular pets. Although not exactly cute or cuddly pets, these nocturnal arachnids are low maintenance and impressive to look at. Their lifespan is generally 6-8 years, and their length is approximately 6 inches long. Emperor scorpions are known for being the most docile scorpions, however it is not recommended that you handle them as they may sting or pinch you. A sting from an emperor scorpion can be compared to a bee sting and is not venomous, although it is possible to go into anaphylactic shock if you are allergic to them.

Housing

With the lowest habitat requirements out of this exotic pets list, emperor scorpions require a 10 gallon tank with 3-6 inches of substrate, a few hides and stones, a heat mat, a shallow water dish, and to be misted daily. Your scorpion may move some of the decor around with their claws, but you should avoid putting them back into their original pace as it may stress out your pet.

Food

Scorpions are cheap and easy to feed, needing only 3-6 adult crickets dusted in calcium per week. You may feed them by dropping the cricket(s) into their tank every other night and letting them hunt their prey on their own.


 

Argentine Tegus

Tegus as pets

Have you ever wanted a dragon as a pet? Argentine black and white tegus are about as close as you can get.

Basic Info

Measuring up to 4 feet long, tegus are the gentle giants of the lizard world. The females of this species are usually a little bit smaller than their male counterparts, and they can both live for up to 15 years.

Personality

When handled regularly from a young age, these massive reptiles can be very comfortable with people. Tegus are not particularly active animals, and will probably spend most of their time laying in their a hide of some sort, although they do like to dig and burrow from time to time.

Housing

Adult tegus require a lot of space, and their enclosure should be at least 6 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 2 feet high. Due to their burrowing habits, give your tegu a few inches of orchid, cypress, or eucalyptus bark to dig in. Additionally, you should provide a large hide filled with slightly damp sphagnum moss to aid in shedding. Your pet also has specific lighting and heating needs. You will need a UVA/UVB bulb for light, as well as a basking spot measuring between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food

Adult tegus should be fed pre-killed or frozen mice along with fruit and veggies. Be cautious if you are feeding them mice with fur, as it can cause intestinal blockages. Provide a large, shallow dish of water for your pet. This dish should be large enough for the tegu to soak in.

Health

Common tegu health issues include parasitic infections, calcium and phosphorus deficiencies, bone diseases, and respiratory infections. To avoid these, feed your animal a proper diet and keep their enclosure clean, warm, and at the proper humidity level (60%-80%). Some vets will not treat tegus, so make sure that you have access to one that will prior to buying your pet.


 

Fennec Foxes

exotic fennec fox

Although fairly uncommon, fennec foxes make for some beautiful exotic pets. While not fully domesticated, their behavior is similar to a dog’s.

Basic Info

These fast, smart, social creatures can make great pets for intermediate exotic pet handlers. They do require lots of attention, so you should not get a fennec fox if you don’t much time to dedicate to its care. They generally weigh between 2 and 3.5 pounds when fully grown, and live for up to 14 years.

Personality

These little foxes are very social creatures, often living in colonies of up to 10 others in the wild. Although they’re nocturnal, they tend to partially adapt to their owner’s schedule. If raised around humans from a young age, fennec foxes may have a personality similar to a dog’s- they can be leash trained, potty trained, and taught their names.

Housing

These exotic pets are very active animals known for their mischief and digging. Therefore, any outdoor enclosures must prevent them from climbing over or under the fence. If motivated, they can dig as deep as 20 feet. They also require warm temperatures higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re out of the house, place your pet in a dog crate to prevent them from getting into trouble. Keep in mind, fennec foxes have a musky smell when startled and a high pitched bark that may irritate some.

Food

Fennec foxes are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. Usually, owners feed them with a mix of dog food, cat food, fruits and veggies. Another option is to feed them a mix of raw meat, vegetables, and vitamins.

Health

Fennec foxes require preventative care very similar to dogs, such as vaccines for rabies, parvovirus, canine distemper virus, and adenovirus. They should also be dewormed, given preventative heartworm meds, and preventative flea medications. As with any exotic pet, make sure there is a local vet that will service that animal.


 

Important Points to Remember

While taking a pet dog or cat for a vet checkup may cost you $50-$100, taking an exotic pet to a vet who handles that species can be a lot more costly. Because of this, thoroughly research any care costs associated with your new pet. Also, save some money in an emergency fund in case an unexpected injury or illness hits.

In addition to vet costs, make sure you factor in day-to-day upkeep for your exotic pet. What kind of vitamins, supplements, food, treats, supplies, and toys will your animal need? Do you have the money to provide your pet with everything it needs? Money aside, do you know where to purchase these items? How much of your day will you need to dedicate to caring for your pet and maintaining it’s enclosure?

Another point to consider is the fit of the pet. If you have young children, a difficult-to-tame species that has the potential to nibble on or knock over tots may not be a good idea. Similarly, if you live in an apartment you may consider something smaller, like a scorpion, to fit your living situation.

Whichever exotic pet you decide to adopt, you should always be one hundred percent sure that you can meet all of their care, food, and housing requirements. Do your research, find a pet that fits into your life, and bring your new best friend home!

%d bloggers like this: