Family - Pets
By: - at August 7, 2013

15 Exotic Pets You Could Own Today

fashion model with pythonThe world is filled with a variety of exotic animals, and many of these creatures are now popular pets that have been domesticated. This includes a wide variety of dogs, cats, rodents, and lizards. There are, however, many animals that aren't normally considered to be pets that can actually prove to be quite valuable as companions – including some that are, quite frankly, somewhat unusual. However, owning a pet – even an odd one – can increase your life expectancy by five years. That's because they create a sense of companionship, and your pet can be just as compassionate toward you as you are toward it. But if you're going to own a pet, even a somewhat unique one, some animals are simply off limits. After all, it would be kind of difficult to own a Siberian tiger or an African lion, especially if you live in a cramped one-bedroom studio apartment. But don't fret; there are still a wide range of exotic pets that make excellent companions – and that won't devour you while you sleep.


15)  Bearded Dragon
A Pogona, better known as a bearded dragon, typically resides in semi-desert regions and the dry woodlands of Australia. You're going to need a permit if you want to take this guy into Canada or the United States. The bearded dragon is an extremely skilled climber, spending most of its day on branches and bushes. Characteristics of a bearded dragon include spiny scales that are found on their body and clustered around their throat. The scales are used only for scare tactics, and are not very sharp. What makes this pet interesting is that they have a gesture that looks very similar to someone waving a hand at you. This gesture signifies submission between other dragons. If you're lucky, you can train your dragon to wave at you when you're feeling down.

Bearded Dragon
Bearded Dragon

They have chameleon-like properties and can change color during altercations with other male dragons. Male bearded dragons are larger than females, and they can grow up to 24 inches long. That's a very healthy dragon. Most males and females average around 12 to 16 inches. The reason these lizards are a good choice as pets is because of their friendly and calm nature. They're also extremely easy to take care of. They eat leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits that do not have any citrus. They can also eat a variety of insects.


14)  Crocodile
When you think of a crocodile, most of the time you think of a beast that is ferocious, with terrible teeth and a constant hunger for wildebeest. Smaller crocodiles such as caimans have become increasingly popular as pets. They have deep, appealing eyes. Because it is such an unusual creature to choose for a pet, and most people would not willingly let a crocodile into their house, not much is known about the husbandry of these creatures. If you're considering a first pet, a crocodile is not a good choice. There simply isn't enough information available to the public, and it takes a skilled handler to successfully manage a crocodile.

But Caiman crocodiles are definitely an exotic pet. However, with the right experience, suitable equipment, and plenty of space, determination, and attitude, crocodiles can be a rewarding creature to keep as a pet. First off, crocodiles are not for kids. You will need experience handling a variety of animals, dangerous ones at that, to be able to tame a crocodile. They are carnivorous and require a steady diet of food, unless you want to risk getting your poodle munched on by your hungry croc.

Spectacled Caiman
Spectacled Caiman

You have to realize that owning a crocodile is a long term investment. They can average up to 25 years of life if handled properly. Crocodiles will not be able to fetch your slippers, but they do have the ability to recognize individual people and react to them in a positive manner. The creature that you see behind the glass at a zoo is actually intelligent and follows your movement patterns. It will know when to expect food if you feed it in the same manner on a daily basis. This pet will definitely get some stares and awestruck looks from your friends and family if you decide to own one.


13)  Hedgehog
An African pygmy hedgehog is the most common type of species sold as a pet. They can grow up to 9 inches long and live up to six years. There have been cases where a hedgehog that is kept healthy and happy can live up to 10 years. Hedgehogs are solitary animals, so don't expect it to be friendly toward a mouse or a snake if you plan on giving it some neighbors. This animal is extremely active and will require a large cage in order to prance around in.

African Pygmy Hedgehog
African Pygmy Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are nocturnal beasts and best for people who are home during the evenings. These animals are not suitable for people with small children. Hedgehogs have sharp quills that can be extended if threatened by an overzealous child. The reason these animals are so interesting is because they are fun to observe, quiet, passive, and easy to take care of. The animal makes sure that its surrounding is kept clean and there is a wide variety of food available in markets for hedgehogs. If you plan to get one, it can be a wonderful addition to a household that provides an entertaining and unforgettable experience.


12)  Hermit Crab
Another interesting and exotic pet to consider getting is a hermit crab. These creatures are loving and very active. They can live up to 20 years if kept properly. If you're thinking of getting a hermit crab so you can paint its shell, think again. Paint is harmful and poisonous to these creatures, and they need natural shells in order to molt properly. If you're going to get a hermit crab, you need to get its housing correct. The crab's natural habitat is humid. A fish tank or an aquarium will suit a crab perfectly.

Hermit Crab With Painted Shell
Hermit Crab With Painted Shell

Substrate is what is used as a source of digging for a hermit crab. Sugar-sized sand is the only kind of sand you should use. Hermit crabs relieve stress by hiding and digging in sand. You should clean your substrate every six months by sterilizing it in the oven. Do not keep the hermit crab on the sand when you put it in the oven, or you're going to have a baked crab. Hermit crabs love climbing in the wild, and you should get a variety of climbable play toys for your pet. Small items like choya logs or stumps are perfect for them. They're going to molt, which means shed their skin, so let them do so in piece. What makes the crab so unusual is that it needs both salt water and fresh water in order to thrive. Don't forget to put these two types of water in the crab habitat if you want it to be healthy and happy.


11)  Stick Insect
This animal has a face only a mother could love, making it one of the least attractive pets on the list. They are however, extremely good with children and in schools as well. The most common type of stick insect is the Indian Stick Insect. They grow up to about 80 millimeters long and are normally green or brown in color. Indian Stick Insects are almost always female, and do not require males in order to lay eggs. If you're going to get a stick insect for a pet, be aware when they lay eggs, otherwise you're going to have a population explosion. Stick insects do not need companionship other than to mate.

Girl Holding Her Stick Insect Homemade Vivarium
Girl Holding Her Stick Insect Homemade Vivarium

Adult stick insects need a ventilated cage or vivarium in order to thrive. What makes a stick insect such an easy pet is the fact that its food source is simple. All you need are bramble leaves for your stick insect to munch on and it will be happy. Their limbs like to fall off occasionally, but this is not a problem, as they can still function properly with only three legs. Handle your stick insect with care because they are extremely easy to be squashed. If you're not interested in small insects, this next exotic pet may be just the right choice.


10)  Hippopotamus
This is going to be one of the pets on the list that is potentially very dangerous. A hippopotamus is definitely an exotic pet, but it is suggested that you let an experienced handler give you instructions on how to care for one for at least five years before you consider getting one. These wild animals can grow up to 2,600-plus pounds and have huge teeth used to munch on leaves. Their bodies are almost hairless, and they have very stubby legs. They are the third-largest land mammal by weight, while the white rhinoceros and elephants trump them.

Pygmy Hippopotamus
Pygmy Hippopotamus

Owning a hippo can quite frankly be very dangerous. According to Animal Planet, a South African man owned a hippo that mauled him in what was supposed to be a playful bout. Hippos need a large amount of land, filled with plenty of water. Hippos are not social animals, and only mothers and daughters stick close to each other. They can be extremely territorial and males will protect a large stretch of river from any potential threats. You may not be ready to care for a hippopotamus, so the next animal on the list is definitely a viable option.





9)  Potbellied Pig
The potbellied pig is one of the friendliest animals on the list of exotic pets. While many would not want to share his or her house with a pig, they have some charming characteristics as well as personality. Potbellied pigs are demanding animals, and it can be overwhelming to manage them. It's important to understand a few things before getting this pig as a pet. First, potbellied pigs are extremely intelligent and trainable, which can make them difficult as well. They are curious and playful, but head-strong and sensitive as well. If they are not stimulated on a daily basis, they can become bored and potentially destructive.

Potbellied Pigs
Potbellied Pigs

Pigs are notorious for being unrelenting in terms of looking for food. They can learn how to open a fridge, a cupboard, and even a pantry just by watching its owner. It's important as an owner of a potbellied pig to assert dominance. Giving consistent rules, praise for good behavior, correction, and lots of repetition will help to produce a pig with good manners and a good relationship with its family. Pigs can average around 15 years in age. They can weigh up to 125 pounds when fully grown. If you have the right mindset and plenty of time, owning a potbellied pig can be rewarding, satisfying, and entertaining.


8)  Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
The Madagascar hissing cockroach, also known as a "Hisser," is the largest species of cockroach in the world. They can grow up to three inches long at maturity. Hissers are considered to be exotic pets. They require only a small living area with a place for them to hide under because they do not like the light. They enjoy climbing, so their living area must be tested to ensure that they do not get out. A fish tank with a protective screen should be able to keep your little Hisser at bay.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

This cockroach can live on fresh vegetables and any kind of pellet food that is high in protein, such as dog food. Many states require permits before this pet can be allowed into a home. If it multiplies and manages to get out of its tank, a Hisser can end up growing an entire colony right outside of your house, so be careful.


7)  Llama
A llama is not exactly your typical kind of pet. Normally considered as livestock, a llama can actually be a cool exotic to owning a traditional pet. They are friendly, social, calm, and easily trained animals. Llamas are actually beautiful animals as well. Although they can have a face that appears quite cynical, they have deep brown eyes and long eyelashes as well. A llama can range from 15-30 years and weigh in at an impressive 450 pounds. If you're a basketball player, you may be shocked to seeing that your pet llama can grow up to six and a half feet tall.

Llamas need an average amount of space, roughly half an acre to graze on. In colder climates, a barn or windproof housing is necessary. It's important to keep proper fencing as well, as llamas are curious animals and willing to leave their comfortable home to seek out adventure. They need to be groomed and sheared once a month, and toe nails need to be trimmed as well. Llamas are hardy animals and very rarely run into any kind of sickness.

Llama Train Outside of Machu Picchu
Llama Train Outside of Machu Picchu

Llamas make good guard animals, and they can fend off a dog or coyote if necessary. Because they are friendly and responsive, llamas are a perfect addition to a family with children. Before purchasing one, think about the commitment of time and finances, as well as space needed to house a llama.


6)  Mexican Dog Fish
The Mexican dog fish is a type of salamander that is a perfect consideration for an exotic pet. They do not undergo metamorphosis, which means they keep their gills and remain aquatic. Also known as axolotls, they are carnivores and there diet should consist of pellets with high protein. Axolotls don't eat floating food, and it is recommended to feed them with tweezers. They eat anything that is put in front of them, and they have a vacuum-like method of eating, sucking food and water in at the same time. Axolotls are cheap to maintain, feed, and house.

Mexican Dog Fish
Mexican Dog Fish

These pets live best by themselves and require an aquatic environment. What is absolutely important to remember is that 20 percent of their water needs to be changed on a weekly basis. The water tank also needs to be cool during the summer, because warm water can stress them out. Overall, if you're looking for a salamander that you can keep for 10-15 years and one that is pretty to look at and easy to maintain, a Mexican dog fish is the perfect choice.


5)  Skunk
If you're interested in an exotic pet and don't mind that it might emit an extremely stinky odor when threatened, then a skunk is a great choice. Normally outdoor animals, a skunk can make an excellent pet if the proper care is taken of them. Skunks are intelligent and sensitive animals. Their temperament can vary, but most skunks are highly curious and will open cupboards and doors. Skunks have a friendly, loving temperament, and can be very playful as well.

Baby Skunk
Baby skunk

Make sure to clean up any spills on your floor immediately, as skunks will try to dig in that area to find out what could potentially be buried there. If you handle a skunk when it is young, it will be more docile as it grows up. Skunks have a voracious appetite, and obesity is a common problem among domesticated skunks. Vegetables, fruits, dairy, yogurt, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates are necessary in a skunk's diet. Play nicely and get a skunk when it's young from an animal shelter and you will have a loving pet for many years.


4)  Emperor Scorpion
Emperor scorpions are becoming increasingly popular for pet owners. While handling them can be difficult, they are actually quite easy to care for. Their lifespan is typically 6-8 years. The sting of an emperor scorpion is similar to being stung by a bee. If you have problems with bee venom, it is not recommended to own an emperor scorpion as a pet. They require a humid and warm environment, and it should also be known that they are nocturnal creatures.

Emperor Scorpion
Emperor Scorpion
By Kevin Walsh from Oxford, England (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A glass aquarium tank is suitable for an emperor scorpion, and they don't need much space to survive or be comfortable. Scorpions normally eat a variety of insects and arthropods. They are easy to feed, and only need three to six adult crickets per week to be happy. Although they look menacing, a scorpion can be a great exotic and something to admire as a pet.


3)  Sugar Glider
One of the cutest and most exotic of creatures on the list of exotic pets is the sugar glider. They have become very popular lately and are small, relatively easy pets to take care of. Before getting a sugar glider, make sure you have the right housing requirements and permits necessary to own one. Sugar gliders are marsupial, and they start off their life in a pouch, similar to a kangaroo. Originally from Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea, their primary habitat is a forest. Sugar gliders get their unique name due to the diet they have which consists of nectar and sap from eucalyptus trees. They also have a set of skin in between their hands and feet that allows them to glide from one place to another, which can be interesting in a household.

Sugar Glider
Sugar Glider

This animal can be very playful and entertaining as a pet. They are very social and should be kept in pairs or groups ideally. In captivity, sugar gliders average 12-14 years of life. They need a lot of interaction, and can be quite difficult to housetrain. The nails of a sugar glider are sharp and should be trimmed on a weekly basis. It is recommended to get them at a very early age if you're interested in domesticating them to be cuddly. They have strict dietary requirements, and an experienced veterinarian should be consulted if you're planning on getting one. Sugar gliders do not respond to punishment or domination, so it is important to treat them with respect and gentleness. If you're interested in getting one, be prepared for a loving and devoted companion.


2)  Capybara
Resembling a giant hamster, the capybara is another excellent exotic choice to a normal house pet. Capybaras are intensely social herd animals. They are highly intelligent, and can be taught a great deal of tricks if acquired at a young age. The capybara is the largest rodent in the world. They have a large, barrel-shaped body and short head, and range from brown to red in color. The capybara is also known to be a very sweaty animal, and its glands can be found in the surface of hairy portions of its skin, not typical in rodents.

Capybara - World's Largest Rodent
Capybara - World's Largest Rodent

They are semi-aquatic mammals, and if you're planning on getting one as a pet, you should have an enclosure that contains a pond or other source of water. Capybaras are extremely loving animals, and if they are separated from their owner for a long time, they can experience separation anxiety. Because they are herd animals, a capybara will not sleep alone. They can eat grass, hay, and guinea pig food in order to stay healthy. Owning a capybara will definitely be a conversation starter and is a great exotic pet.


1)  Pygmy Goat
Last on the list and one of the most adorable animals is the pygmy goat. They are a domesticated miniature breed of goat that is primarily used as pets, although they are relatively uncommon. One of the reasons this animal is at the top of the list is how hardy it is and how it can adapt to a variety of climates. The females can weigh 53 to 75 pounds, while the males weigh 60 to 86 pounds. They range from white, brown, and caramel, to dark black in color. Their diet consists of greens and types of grains.

Pygmy Goat
Pygmy Goat

They enjoy having items to jump on to and need an open area of grass to graze upon. They also need a companion, although it does not have to be another pygmy goat in order for the animal to be content. If treated with respect, they become affectionate and can be trained with a lot of work. This animal is one of the kindest animals on this list, and needs to be protected from predators outside.


Conclusion
From small to large and from insect to marsupial, there are hundreds of different animals in the world that make great pets. These 15 animals range widely in terms of training capabilities, intelligence, and attention requirements. If you're interested in getting an exotic animal, these choices can make wonderful additions to your family, as long as you know what you're doing. Having an exotic pet is a unique experience that you can enjoy and remember for as long as you live.



 

 

 

 

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