25 Exotic Animals You Could Legally Own

Posted by , Updated on April 22, 2024

A multitude of articles regarding pets have been produced, predominantly featuring cats and dogs. The focus of today, however, is still on pets but with an unusual twist – we’re going to highlight some unique and legally owned exotic animals.

From tarantulas and freshwater stingrays to wallaroos and alligators, if you want to know what exotic pets are for sale, check out these 25 Exotic Animals You Could Legally Own.

Note: Some of the animals featured in this post can be legally owned only in certain US states as each state has its own laws regarding pet ownership. It is also important to remember that exotic, non-domesticated animals belong in the wild and keeping them in captivity is usually extremely stressful for them.



Fennec Fox

Fennec FoxSource: nationalgeographic.com

Resembling both dog and cat, the Fennec Fox is a very cool, small pet to own. The smallest of all the world’s foxes, it naturally lives in the Sahara Desert and elsewhere in North Africa. These nocturnal mammals usually forage for plants but also eat rodents, eggs, reptiles, and insects.


Mexican Redknee Tarantula

Mexican Redknee TarantulaSource: tarantulapets.com

Native to mountains of western Mexico, the Mexican Redknee Tarantula is one of the most popular pets among spider enthusiasts. It is a very large, interestingly colored spider that can live for up to 30 years and is relatively easy to care for.



ChinchillaSource: 2ndchance.info

Naturally found in the Andes Mountains in South America, the Chinchilla is prized for its beautiful soft lush fur, and curious, boisterous nature and no objectionable noises. They are low-maintenance pets, but they are very fragile and might bite when squeezed too tightly.


Freshwater Stingray

Freshwater StingraySource: tropicalfishfinder.co.uk

While the Freshwater Stingray looks really cool, and it will certainly be the main attraction of your fish tank, caring for them is no easy task. They need very large aquariums with a huge bottom area. Stingrays are also sensitive to the water chemistry and purity, so a frequent water change is a must.


Sugar Glider

Sugar GliderSource: therichest.com

Native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia, the Sugar Glider is a cute little marsupial. They have become popular as exotic pets because they are very social and bond easily with humans. It is best to get two or more Sugar Gliders if you cannot be home a lot to keep them company.


Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon Source: thebeardeddragon.org

Found in desert regions of Australia, the Bearded Dragon is a medium-sized reptile that can live for up to 14 years with good care. Prized for its friendly and calm nature, the Bearded Dragon was not introduced to the US until the 1990’s but since then, these interesting creatures have dramatically increased in popularity and can be now found in most pet stores.


Striped Skunk

Striped Skunk Source: pbs.org

Another unusual pet for sale, the Striped Skunk can be now legally owned in 17 US states such as Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Domesticated skunks whose scent glands were removed can make surprisingly docile and loving pets, but there is controversy over the surgery as it strips the animal of its natural defense.



Capybara Source: babble.com

Native to South America where it lives in savannas and forests near bodies of water, the Capybara is the world’s largest rodent. These curious creatures are sometimes kept as pets; however, they require a tremendous amount of time and care, a pool for swimming, and fresh, non-toxic grass for grazing.


Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Madagascar Hissing CockroachSource: animals.nationalgeographic.com

Colloquially known as the hisser, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching up to 7.6 cm (3 in) in length. Unlike most cockroaches, this species is wingless and can be kept in a small living area with some hiding places.



Serval Source: domesticatedservals.com

A medium-sized African wild cat, the Serval can make an amazing exotic pet, but these beautiful felines are not for everyone. Notable for their large ears and spotted, golden-yellow coat, they are very active but are also shy and will take dedicated time and attention from their owner to develop a close bond.



Axolotl Source: axolotl.org

Native to Mexico, Axolotls are adorable aquatic salamanders known for their unique ability to heal and regenerate. However, these amazing water creatures are very messy, and soil their tank water quickly, so be prepared for frequent cleaning and maintenance.



ChimpanzeeSource: janegoodall.org.uk

It is legal to keep a chimpanzee as a pet in some countries, including the US and the UK, but it is extremely difficult to take good care of these highly intelligent primates in a human environment. Known for their enormous strength, they can easily become destructive and resentful of discipline.


Miniature Donkey

Miniature Donkey Source: wordsiseek.com

The Mini Donkey is a very funny and affectionate pet to own. Having a bad reputation for being dumb is not the case here, as they boast a solid memory and intelligence that they use to build lasting relationships with their owners, when given proper care and attention.


Emperor Scorpion

Emperor ScorpionSource: scorpionworlds.com

Reaching up to 20 cm (7.9 in) in length, the Emperor Scorpion is one of the largest scorpions in the world. Despite its size and menacing appearance, this species is not lethal to humans, which is also why it is a very popular pet among scorpion enthusiasts.



LlamaSource: petassure.com

A domesticated South American camelid, the Llama requires plenty of room to run around and graze in and a shelter to avoid extreme weather, but if they are provided with the environment and care they need, they can make a great pet. They are prized for their mild nature and friendliness.


Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp Source: thespruce.com

Naturally found in tropical waters worldwide, the Mantis Shrimp is one of the most amazing and fascinating aquarium pets. However, keeping these spectacular crustaceans is not easy. Apart from the demanding and very specific living conditions they need, Mantis Shrimps are capable of breaking through the tank wall with their powerful appendages.



Wallaroo Source: thespruce.com

Native to Australian pastures, the Wallaroo is a marsupial that looks like a small kangaroo. If hand raised and well socialized, the Wallaroo can bond quite nicely to its owner, but this exotic pet requires a lot of space and attention. Also, it’s a nocturnal animal, so is very active at night.



Alligator Source: animalquestions.org

As surprising as it sounds, some US states (e.g. Florida) allow their citizens to own pet alligators. However, to do so, you need to get a specific permit issued by local wildlife authority. It’s perhaps needless to say that keeping an alligator in captivity is extremely dangerous, demanding, and expensive.



HedgehogSource: narcity.com

For some pet fans, the Hedgehog might be a spiky alternative to the common hamster. Hedgehogs are characterized by a prickly outer skin that can be sensitive to the touch, and are relatively shy creatures that do not typically require too much attention. Maintenance of these animals is fairly simple and involves regular cleaning of its cage and feeding.


Blue Crayfish

Blue CrayfishSource: aquariumlore.com

Native to Florida, the Blue Crayfish is one of the most popular and attractive freshwater crayfish species sold in the aquarium trade. Similarly to other pet crustaceans, these brightly colored creatures need clean water, plenty of hiding spaces and rather shallow fish tank with a large bottom area to hang around.



KinkajouSource: nationalgeographic.com

Also known as the honey bear, the Kinkajou is a small mammal that lives in tropical forests of Central and South America, where it spends most of the time in the trees. These cute animals are usually playful and docile, but they can be agitated when woken up during the day (they are nocturnal). They also often carry a dangerous ringworm.


Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth Macaw Source: thespruce.com

Nicknamed the gentle giant, the Hyacinth Macaw is one the largest parrots in the world, reaching a length of up to 1 m (3.3 ft). Due to their massive size, these magnificent birds need a lot of room for a good stretch and something to maintain their huge beaks. Sadly, trapping these parrots for pet trade has severely reduced their populations in the wild.


Giant Prickly Stick

Giant Prickly StickSource: animalplanet.com

Stick insects are popular exotic pets because of their unique appearance and simple care needs. Native to Australia, the Giant Prickly Stick can grow to up to 20 cm (8 in) long. Females are covered with remarkable, thorn-like spikes for defense and camouflage.


Reticulated Python

Reticulated Python Source: ecoterrariumsupply.com via Wikipedia

Naturally found in Southeast Asia, the Reticulated Python is generally considered the world’s longest snake, yet despite their enormous size, these magnificent constrictors are sometimes kept as pets. Although their interactivity and beauty draws much attention, they might be very unpredictable and should be only kept by experienced keepers.


Potbellied Pig

Potbellied PigSource: animalplanet.com

A breed of domesticated pig originating in Vietnam, the Potbellied Pig is an intelligent and affectionate animal that can make a good pet for anyone who gives it proper care and attention. They can be trained to walk on leashes, which is good because they need a lot of exercise as they often tend to become obese.

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