26 Exotic Pets That Will Steal Your Heart (Or Creep You Out!)

Exotic animals are very popular as pets but there are many things to consider. Some will need special attention and have special needs, while other breeds require access to outdoor space etc.

In this article, we will teach you the basics you need to know about each animal and we you exactly which exotic animals you are allowed to have.

We will rate all the animals from 1-5 on 5 parameters and finally give each animal a total score. The higher the number the better)

Here are the parameters:

  • Workload: How much work does it require?
  • Aggressiveness: How aggressive is it?
  • Cost: How expensive is it (incl. accessories and food)?
  • Cuddling: Does it like being cuddled?
  • Smell: How about smell and cleanliness?
  • Total Score: Average of the 5 scores above

We will also take a look at a list of exotic animals that are illegal to keep even though you might be able to buy them.

We have divided the animals into categories to make it easier to find the type of animal you are looking for.

Smaller Animals

Chinchilla

Chinchilla baby

Another contender to the “most cutest exotic pet” title could be the Chinchilla.

It’s 10-15” (25- 38 cm) in length and looks like a rabbit from the front. It’s a very active and playful animal and you can bond with it. And you will have plenty of time to do so because the Chinchilla will get around 20 years in captivity!

Just like the Hedgehogs, it’s nocturnal, which means it will mainly be active at night. So you will need a relaxed a quiet place for it during the day where it will not be very active. They don’t particularly like to be held. They will much rather crawl around on your clothes and explore your house.

It’s not made for high temperatures and you will have to monitor that the temperature does not reach more than around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 Celsius). Other than that you just need to give it an interesting environment with lots of toys so it won’t be bored (during the night).

Score:

Workload rating 3 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 1 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Skunks

Skunk staring at camera

Skunks have found their way into more and more families in recent years. They are amazing animals but they require a lot of time and special care.

In contrary to their wild-life relatives, the skunks you get at the pet store will have their scent glands removed so you don’t have to worry about that. But if you keep it inside the house you should make sure it cannot get out. Because it will not find it’s way back to the house. If it leaves, it’s gone for good.

We have found examples of people who have potty trained skunks, so that is possible but you need a lot of patience and persistence.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 2 out of 5
Smell rating 2 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Kinkajou

Kinkajou sneaking off

The Kinkajou (also know as honey bears) is probably one of the most charming and cute exotic animals you will find. It has big eyes and it’s the same size as a cat.

It can live up to 35 years in captivity so prepare for a very long relationship. This is also one of the reasons why they are not the easiest species to keep in your home.

They are wild animals and they have a reputation for biting and scratching, probably because they get bored. They are made for the rainforest where there are plenty of places to hide and play.

They get up to 24” (60 cm) and they have a furry coat which is very beautiful and soft. In nature, it spends most of its time in trees where it can use its tail to swing and move around (much like a monkey). For the same reason, people often mistake them for monkeys.

But be aware that they sometimes carry diseases so that’s definitely something to check before inviting it into your home.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 3 out of 5
Smell rating 2 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Hedgehogs

Cute Hedgehog

Who doesn’t love hedgehogs? They are super cute with their small black eyes and sniffing around for milk and food.

American domesticated hedgehogs typically come from Africa and they can be great companions. But as always, there are some things to consider first.

As you might know, they have spikes all over the body and they will roll up and get prickly whenever they get surprised or nervous. But they are completely safe, and they won’t shoot off their quills like some of their cousins!

The little creatures are night creatures and will stay active during the night and be more passive during the day. So if you’re a nightcrawler the hedgehogs are perfect for you. However, if you are an early bird you might not get much social time with your Hedgehog pet.

Score:

Workload rating 3 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 1 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 5 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider looking ready

The Sugar Glider is another little adorable creature. It’s only 5” (13 cm) long and it also has big black eyes that will melt your heart!

They do not live quite as long as some of the other species in this article: Around 10-13 years.

They can glide through the air as they spread out their legs and they are born in a pouch like kangaroos. They are also from Australia just like the Kangaroo. It’s nocturnal and will need to rest and sleep during the day so don’t buy this cute little guy unless you can offer it a quiet atmosphere during the daytime. Just like rats, they like to climb. So they require vertical space inside the cage in order to get entertained.

As their name indicates, they like to eat everything that is sweet and fresh so make sure not to have candy or other sweets laying around.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 4 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Serval

Serval cat in the grass

Not we are back with the exotic cats. The Serval is a little tiger-like cat with a very pretty yellow and black look.

It’s supposed to stay outdoor so you will need a lot of space for it. It will not do well indoor and it’s not very kid-friendly. So if you are looking for a play-buddy for your kids, the Serval is not your best choice.

It’s also nocturnal and moves primarily during the night. It will prefer lots of space as it enjoys a good long sprint. It’s shy during the day and will not come out to play when you yell its name. But it does enjoy to play with its food and you can have a lot of fun watching it hunt and feed.

Servals are not ideal for city dwellers as you can tell, so don’t bring this little guy into your house unless you have a room totally dedicated to it. Otherwise, it will probably break more stuff that you think.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 4 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 3 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

Fennec Fox

Fennec fox staring at camera

The Fennec Fox is a cute little white desert fox with huge ears.

You need to make sure you can legally keep them in your city/state and you need to take special precautions in order to keep it on your property. It will find any tiny hole in your fence and be gone in an instant.

It’s yet another nocturnal creature so be prepared to stay up late to watch it being active.

They can be leash-trained and will react when you call their name. Just like dogs, they like to dig and that’s another reason why it might be gone if you are not careful with maintaining your fence.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 4 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 3 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Hyacinth Macaw

hyacinth macaw

The Hyacinth Macaw is one of the largest parrots. It can be as big as 35 inches (1 meter) so it’s a HUGE bird. This is also the reason it has become so popular.

Its feathers have a beautiful blue color and they are really something to look at!

But it is also loud and your neighbors may not approve. Especially if you have several Hyacinth Macaws because they tend to start screeching when they group together.

But if you have space and you live in the countryside you can definitely have a great time raising these great birds.

They can also learn to speak words and repeat what you say even though they are not the best parrot breed for learning to speak. They are very intelligent so you can teach them tricks as well as words and commands.

You should be prepared to pay around $5,000- $10,000 for this bird so that’s something to consider before you add it to your wish list.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 5 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 3 out of 5
Smell rating 4 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

Larger Animals

Miniature Donkeys

Miniature donkey

Miniature Donkeys are really cute. They are only around 35” (1 meter) tall as fully-grown adults and they are just funny and stubborn as their bigger relatives.

They are rather easy to train due to their good memory and they will make a great pet in families. Donkeys are great around kids and you can ride it (if you can get it to move!). Actually, they love to be cuddled and they can get up to around 40 years old so, with the good memory, it will be a life-long companion.

You will need a decent piece of land for it to roam freely and you will also constantly need to get a lot of hay. But if you are up for it, the Miniature Donkey will be a great pet for the family.

Score:

Workload rating 2 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 1 out of 5
Smell rating 3 out of 5
Total score: rating 2 out of 5

Wallabies and Wallaroos (mini Kangaroos)

Wallabies kangaroo baby

Tiny Kangaroos? That sounds just too good to be true, but that’s a pretty accurate description of the Wallabies and Wallaroos. The two animals are very similar but the Wallabies are a little smaller than the Wallaroos.

The female is the smallest and it typically weighs around 45 pounds (20 kilograms). So they are around the size of a 4-5-year-old kid. They love to play and you can teach them things and tricks.

They are social too, so you can definitely have a good time around these creatures.

It does need a lot of space to jump around so you don’t want to keep it as a pet inside the city. They need to be around nature and they are heavy when you think about how much they jump around. So even though you can definitely take in inside the house once in a while, it should have access to plenty of outdoor space.

You will want to get it as a baby because you can bottle-feed it (in fact you will have to), and that’s just the cutest thing. It can easily be around other farm animals as long as you use the appropriate vaccines.

Score:

Workload rating 5 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 5 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 3 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

Alpacas

Two Alpacas

We have been around Alpacas on several occasions and they are an awesome species. They are actually related to camels (and Llamas) even though they do not have the “hump” as the camels.

The Alpaca is basically a small Llama, and they have super-soft fleece you will love to touch. But you will probably need to earn its trust as they can be very stubborn and have a bit of a temper. But you can train them, but make sure to get them as babies so you have time to train them before they grow too stubborn.

Alpacas are great guardians and they will let you know whenever you have visitors. They are often used to guard sheep and goats, in fact, I just visited a sheep farm last summer with two beautiful Alpacas.

They look super quirky and they may spit if they feel angry or dissatisfied. But that’s just part of the charm with these guys!

Score:

Workload rating 3 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 3 out of 5
Cost rating 4 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 3 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Pot Bellied Pig

Pot-bellied baby pig

These pigs are cute but they are pretty big animals. They can weigh up to almost 200 pounds (90 kilograms) but that being said, there are many reasons to choose a Potbellied Pig as your pet.

They can be walked them in a leash and you can actually learn them a few tricks, much like dogs.

They are intelligent and playful and will be fun around kids. But you need to be able to entertain them as they can be tricky to keep if they feel bored. They might get bad ideas and start destroying things around the house. You need to establish some sort of alpha-male hierarchy (with YOU on top!) in order to make it respect you.

If you are ready to put in some work in order to discipline it, you will have a great pet for many years. If you allow it access to the house you will need to baby-proof it 100%, otherwise, your pet pig will create problems.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 3 out of 5
Cost rating 4 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 3 out of 5
Smell rating 4 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

Capybara

Capybara

The Capybara look a lot like a giant Guinea pig, and they are big! They will get up to 2 feet tall (60 cm) and 150 pounds (70 kilograms)!.

They are not legal in all states so you definitely need to check the local regulations before you get one. They prefer to live in grass areas but they are also very good swimmers. They can actually stay underwater for up to four minutes! So you will need to install a big pool in your garden for it to be able to swim around.

You will want to keep them in pairs of two as they are very social. But avoid having two males as they might start to fight and get aggressive toward each other. That being said, they are quite friendly and you can comp them and pet them, especially if you bring treats!

You can take the Capybara inside but you don’t want to keep it indoors at all times because they would chew on everything they find.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 5 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

Chimpanzees

Chimp smiling

Yes, you read it right. In some states, you are allowed to keep Chimpances! Actually, Michael Jackson kept Chimpanzees and there have been several other records of people with these amazing apes.

In Africa, Chimps often live in groups of 100 or more and they will get as old as 60 years, so it’s a huge responsibility to keep them as pets.

Actually, there are many other reasons why you shouldn’t get a chimpanzee as your pet. They are supposed to stay with their mother till they are 4-5 years old and by that time they are already pretty big. Remember, fully-grown chimpanzees are up to 5 times stronger than humans.

Score:

Workload rating 5 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 5 out of 5
Cost rating 5 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 4 out of 5
Smell rating 5 out of 5
Total score: rating 5 out of 5

Creeps & Reptiles

The Bearded Dragons

 bearded dragon

I once took care of a bearded Dragon during a holiday. It’s a super-cute and fun animal and it’s way more friendly than it looks. You can pet and cuddle it gently and it will respond well to being stroked.

They are easy to take care of but you still need to pay special attention to things like heat and light. They need UV light and the right temperature. They also need a rather moist atmosphere inside the cage. It’s originally from Australia and needs the vitamin D from the light.

Another great thing about the Bearded Dragons is how they like to be active during the day.

Most other lizard breeds will sleep during the day but not this guy. He likes to sit in the sun so it’s great if you like to play with it during the day.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 1 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 2 out of 5
Smell rating 3 out of 5
Total score: rating 2 out of 5

Scorpions

Scorpion

Scorpions are really easy to keep as pets. This is also one of the reasons why they have become so popular, besides the fact that they just look really cool and creepy!

The easiest breed to keep for beginners is the Emperor Scorpions. They are beautiful with their shiny black color and they are easy to care for. They are pretty huge with giant claws. They can get up to 6 inches (15 cm) long!

They can live for up to eight years so you need to be prepared to keep this fella for a long time.

The sting from the scorpion is quite similar to the sting of a bee. So unless you’re allergic to this kind of venom you won’t need medical attention. But you shouldn’t expect to handle it a lot, it doesn’t like to get handled. If you happen to surprise and will more likely pinch you with its claws than sting you.

Score:

Workload rating 3 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 3 out of 5
Cost rating 2 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 2 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Tarantula

Tarantula spider

Tarantulas are also great pets. They are long-lived pets and can get over 20 years old!

It’s not your average pet as you probably won’t be cuddling it. If you drop it on the floor it might be fatal to the little fella and he will also be able to bite your hand if he feels threatened, which he probably will now and then.

So the Tarantula is mostly for looking at (like fish) and not so much a pet you will take out and cuddle.

On top of that, it’s lightning fast and will retreat to any dark corner of the house the second you take your eyes off it. Another reason to keep it in its cage. It actually prefers solitude and darkness.

Score:

Workload rating 2 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 4 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 2 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Snakes

Ball Python snake curling up

Snakes are rather easy to take care off as well. Some of the most popular snake breeds for pets are the Ball Pythons and Corn Snakes.

You can absolutely take them out and cuddle them but most of the time they like to remain in the cage. They like to retreat and be alone and they typically only eat once per week. So if you’re looking for an animal you can play with all the time, snakes are not the best option.

Avoid getting a poisonous snake or a huge snake. They take much more work and will be a challenge if you are not used to handling snakes.

Score:

Workload rating 3 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 3 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 2 out of 5

Hissing Cockroach

Hissing Coackroach

Another peculiar exotic animal is the Hissing Cockroaches. They will do a hissing sound (hence the name) when you touch them at first, but they won’t run fast so they are easy to play with. It’s originally from Madagascar (Africa) and it’s very different from the urban cockroaches.

They are very safe and clean and they won’t even be able to bite you if they wanted to.

They are cheap and easy to take care off.

Score:

Workload rating 1 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 1 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 2 out of 5

Giant Prickly Stick

Giant Prickly Stick

As a child, I had a pet like this. They are very easy to take care off and they are a lot of fun to look at. It’s probably one of the weirdest and odd pets you can have!

They will get as long as 5-6” (12- 15 cm) which makes it one of the larger stick insects. The male and female look very different and they are very easy to breed. But watch out, you might end up having the cage crawling with little walking sticks, I did!

Score:

Workload rating 1 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 3 out of 5
Cost rating 1 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 2 out of 5

Fish And Water

Let’s look at some of the animals that live in aquariums. These are very easy to take care off as they will just stay in the water all the time.

Axolotl

Oxolotl fish salamander

The Axolotl is a salamander you probably haven’t heard of.

It definitely looks exotic and resembles a 50/50 mix of a fish and a lizard!

Despite its strange look it’s relatively simple to keep. Just like the cousin, the lizard, it can actually regenerate itself. This means they will heal very easily if they lose the tail or even a leg.

You want to keep this fella alone as it may eat other fish of its own kind. And you should never touch it as it has very delicate skin.

Nerd alert! Be prepared for the strangest fact in this article:
The Axolotl salamander will SOMETIMES (but very rarely!) eventually turn itself into a terrestrial animal, which means it will crawl out of the water and live the rest of its life on land! Seems like this animal has not fully decided whether it is a salamander or a fish!

Score:

Workload rating 2 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 2 out of 5
Cost rating 2 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 2 out of 5

Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp

The Mantis Shrimp actually lives naturally on the coast of California and Florida. It’s a salt-water animal and one of the few animals you can catch yourself instead of getting it at the pet store.

They are furious and aggressive animals and will kill any other animals you put into the aquarium to keep it company. Even other Mantis Shrimps! You can have a lot of fun watching it prey on other fish you are into that. They actually prefer hunting their food and might not be interested in meals that are already dead.

They are so strong that they can crack your glass aquarium(!) so you’ll need a tank made from acrylic. They will get up to 12” (30 cm) so you need a pretty big tank. They can be yellow, pink, dark blue, green and brown.

Score:

Workload rating 1 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 5 out of 5
Cost rating 3 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Alligator & Caimans

caimans and gators

In some states, you can actually keep alligators as pets, but you probably won’t. Unless you live in a park!

The main reason we say that is that gators are natural born predators. They are very unpredictable and they may eat all sorts of small and large animals. They will get up to 15 feet (4,5 meters) in length and around 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms)!

So instead of getting an Alligator your might consider getting a Dwarf Caiman which looks like a gator. They will live up to 20 years and get about 3-4 feet long (115 cm) so you should be prepared to have it for a LONG time. Other than that, they are very expensive. They might cost up to $500 and then you need a lot of stuff for it on top of that.

So even though they might not be dangerous to adults, this is not a pet you get your kid for Christmas. A fully-grown Caiman is not safe around children!’

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 4 out of 5
Cost rating 5 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 4 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

Electric Blue Crayfish

Blue Crayfish

This is also an animal you will find in the wild on the coast of Florida Keys.

The crayfish is a very active and easy to keep. It doesn’t need a lot of special attention and it can’t live in most tanks.

You will be able to watch it move around much of the time and with his extreme blue color, it’s a new show every day. You might also be able to find this species in other colors such as red, white, and pink.

It’s around 4-6” (12- 15 cm) and it is rather aggressive. But it is also slow so you can typically keep them with guppies and other faster fish. But it might eat them eventually if it gets the chance.

Fun fact: They are actually illegal to keep in U.K because they are very invasive of nature, and U.K don’t want it to start breeding in the wild.

Score:

Workload rating 1 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 4 out of 5
Cost rating 2 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 3 out of 5

Freshwater Stingray

Freshwater Stingray in Water

Stingrays are a very special type of animal that is closely related to sharks. They are dangerous (the sting!) but with the right set up you can keep them in your aquarium at home.

The Motoro Stingray is perfect for a home aquarium, but they can grow up to 3 feet! (1 meter) so they will require a large aquarium. Your aquarium should be at least 180 gallons as the fish starts to grow big.

You should keep it together with larger fish because it may sting and eaten by the Stingray. But make sure to get a good talk with a pet shop before you go ahead with this project as it will require a special set up.

Score:

Workload rating 4 out of 5
Aggressiveness rating 3 out of 5
Cost rating 4 out of 5
Will it cuddle? rating 5 out of 5
Smell rating 1 out of 5
Total score: rating 4 out of 5

The 6 exotic animals best suited as pets

Now that we have rated all 26 exotic animals you can get as a pet its time to find the species that most people will enjoy in their home.

Some of the animals stick out as particularly good pets. These are:

  1. The Miniature Donkey
  2. The Bearded Dragon
  3. The Ball Python Snake
  4. The Axolotl
  5. The Giant Prickly Stick
  6. The Hissing Cockroach

6 exotic animals you should not get as a pet

We can also nominate the 6 animals you should not keep in your house.

Not all animals are supposed to live their life in your home even though you can keep them as pets legally in some states and cities. Here’s the list of these animals:

  1. The Chimpanzee
  2. The Alligator/Caiman
  3. The Serval
  4. The Capybara
  5. The Pot Bellied Pig
  6. The Wallaby/Wallaroo (Tiny Kangaroos)

We hope you have learned a lot and gotten even more interested in these amazing exotic pets. We definitely enjoyed writing and researching about them!

We hope you enjoy your new pet no matter what you decide!

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Pinterest exotic pets

Sources: Animal-world.com, thesprucepets.com, nationalgeographic.com

Morten Storgaard

I love pets and I've had several pets including hamsters, reptiles, birds, and fish. I have written extensively about pets and educational content about wild animals.

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