Have you always liked living a bit on the ‘wild side’? Are cats and dogs too ‘mainstream’ for you and your family? When deciding on your next exotic pet, be sure to check your individual state or province’s regulations, as some may not be legal in every location. This is a sample of many unusual pets that can enrich our lives. As with any new pet, do your research and prepare for the journey of learning and discovery that awaits you.
The best exotic pets may come with fur or scales. Do you travel a lot and rely on others for pet care and upkeep? Consider having a snake – many require feedings every 10-14 days. Snakes require minimal upkeep but can require some specialized equipment such as large aquariums, hide boxes and lighting.
A variety different species of snakes make interesting pets. Corn Snakes, Ball Pythons, Milk Snakes, and King Snakes are among the most popular. If you decide that a snake is for you, be ready for a long-term commitment. Species like the Ball Python can easily live up to 30 years!
2. Sugar Gliders
Do your kids want a hamster or gerbil? Treat the whole family instead to a tiny marsupial called the Sugar Glider! These furry pocket pets are native to Australia and glide through the air like a flying squirrel. Their large caricature-like eyes allow them to see in the dark and feed on an omnivorous diet of fruit, vegetables and gut-loaded insects. If you are interested in owning one, be sure to locate a reputable domestic breeder, as many sugar gliders are illegally traded after being sourced directly from the wild.
Capy-who? The Capybara’s name is fun to say and they can be fun to own, too! This super-size rodent hails from South America and can be as large as a medium-sized dog! In the wild, Capybaras live in social groups, so consider adopting a pair – they will keep each other company. They are semi-aquatic and can thrive in subtropical indoor-outdoor living arrangements. Just keep in mind that your furniture and swimming pool will never be the same!
If you have always been fascinated by wild cats, the serval may be one of the best exotic pets for you. Serval cats are spotted and resemble a miniature Cheetah, weighing in between 15-40 pounds. Servals are very much wild cats, even in captivity, and can be quite destructive in the household. Proper socialization with people is required in order to form a lasting bond. They thrive in indoor-outdoor home habitats where they can run, climb trees and swim. If you are interested in a cat that is a little less wild, look into owning a Savannah cat – the hybrid between a domestic cat and the Serval.
The Wallaroo hails from Down Under and is between the sizes of a wallaby and a kangaroo. They sit erect on two legs, making them look like a small kangaroo. For the average household, these are not small pets. Wallaroos can range from 50-100 pounds in weight and can live up to 20 years. They bond easily with their caregivers, especially when introduced at a young age. They can be quite mischievous but can be trained to be polite.
Feeding and upkeep should include a balanced commercial diet and forages such as Bermuda hay. If you live on a farm or ranch, a wallaroo can easily live alongside other lifestock in a pasture setting.
The axolotl (pronounced axe-oh-lot-il) is a type of unusual Mexican salamander. Their colors are stunning – ranging from spotted and grey to neon pink. These salamanders are unique in that they remain aquatic throughout their entire lives (which can span almost 15 years). They also have the remarkable ability to regenerate almost any injured body part. Due to their large size, they require special equipment – a 15-20 gallon aquarium with a slow filtration system. This system needs to be safe for the axolotl, as their delicate gills can become trapped in a powerful filter. Axolotls enjoy a carnivorous diet – feeding on a commercially balanced axolotl pelleted diet, brine shrimp, earthworms, and bloodworms.
7. Pacman Frog
The Pacman frog, or South American Horned frog, has gained great popularity with children and adults alike in the past few years. They are readily available and are often sold as very small juveniles about the size of a quarter. Pacman frogs grow rapidly and will reach full adult size (5-7 inches) in about year. These large amphibians do not require a large living space, making them ideal for small homes and apartments. Their favorite pastime is burrowing – so be sure to invest in an appropriate substrate for enjoyable digging.
Native to many parts of the globe, hedgehogs are quiet, compact household companions. They have similar intelligence to hamsters and can be trained using positive reinforcement. Many enthusiasts think that their personalities can be molded by how much or how little human socialization they get – so frequent handling is recommended for a strong bond. Their spines are quite prickly but with practice, they become easy to handle. They can be housed in a space similar to what is used for a guinea pig and balanced commercial diets are recommended.
9. Bearded Dragon
If you are a reptile lover but find that iguanas and snakes are too big – the bearded dragon may be a good pet for you. Bearded dragons grow up to 24 inches in length head to tail and come in many different colors. The size of their enclosure will dictate how large a juvenile dragon will grow. It is important to provide for their nutritional and environmental needs as deficiencies can lead to serious illness in a short time. These gentle lizards are easy to keep and can even be trained to walk outdoors on a leash!
Do you want a cool pet that will scare your Mother? The tarantula will certainly fit the bill. They come in a variety of beautiful colors – from solid black to colorfully banded. They need very little living space and some like to be handled on a regular basis. Tarantulas will bite when threatened but prefer to retreat. The bite of the tarantula is similar to a bee sting – causing a painful local reaction. Tarantulas should not be considered for individuals with insect bite allergies. Their diet in captivity is simple – gut-loaded crickets and other insects for variety. The tarantula’s molting process is interesting; when they grow, they will lay on their back for several hours as they shed their old skin and make way for the new!