25 Wild Animals That Are Legal To Keep As Pets But Probably Shouldn’t Be

Posted by , Updated on January 1, 2016

Owning a pet has obvious benefits: they help reduce stress, they act as our protectors both in our personal home space and public places, they help those of us with disabilities both physically and emotionally, and so much more. The relationship between a pet and its owner is truly unique. However, the pets that come to mind are usually cute, cuddly, domesticated creatures such as dogs, cats, ferrets, etc. But what if we were to tell you that a unique group of people find pet companionship within a far more dangerous group of wild animals? And what if we were to tell you that owning such wild animals and keeping them as pets is actually legal? Well it’s true. Animals such as tigers, wolves, bears, and even alligators have served as pets in the most startling of relationships between humans and beasts even though such proximity carries with it a very real and present danger. After all, some of these animals are responsible for countless of human deaths in the wild. Why would anyone want to put themselves in such a dangerous situation and why is this legal? We don’t know for sure. But what we do know is that these 25 Wild Animals That Are Legal To Keep As Pets But Probably Shouldn’t Be.

Suggested by Will Leonard

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Squirrel Monkeys

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Squirrel monkeys are not known for being the cleanest or the most disciplined pets on earth. To give you an idea of their hygiene peculiarities (you know, in case you’re thinking of getting one), they use urine to wash their hands and feet (in the wild, this helps them leave a scent trail when tree hoping).. Cool huh?


Emperor Scorpions

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They might sound dangerous and intimidating but scorpions have become increasingly popular pets lately, especially emperor scorpions. They are not great for handling, but they are quiet, clean, and easy to care for. The good thing about emperor scorpions is that they are not particularly dangerous, in contrast to some other species of scorpion. Their sting has been likened to a bee’s in that it is painful, but medical attention is not usually necessary.



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As we all know bears are famous for having impressive strength and a huge appetite for meat. They are also very curious animals and often show interest in approaching humans, including breaking into their homes, which both wild and captive bears have done many times.



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Genets are long, lean carnivores with a tail usually at least as long as their body. Genets resemble elongated cats or ferrets, and can appear catlike, except for their longer faces. They have a long, thin body set on short legs, and their ears are large and rounded. Like cats, genets have semi-retractable claws, and they can erect a crest of hair at the base of their spine when frightened. To make a long story short, if you’re tired of cats and want to try something new then just get a genet and you won’t regret it.



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Degus are very social animals and can become very tame if handled from an early age. However, they do best when they are with other degus because of their social nature. They are playful and curious but keep in mind that without social interaction and exercise, they can be aggressive and neurotic.


Pac-Man Frogs

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Thanks to the legendary video game, Pac-Man frogs have become increasingly popular pets in the past few years. They are not hard to deal with, and they can make a good pet as long as you take good care of them (which you could argue is the case for most pets).



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A kinkajou is a very cute animal to look at but owning one might not be the best idea. They are wild animals and have been known to scratch, bite, and injure their owners when they are not busy ruining the owner’s furniture. Owning a kinkajou is bad for the animal as well since it’s almost impossible to replicate their rainforest environment.



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Chinchillas are a bright exception to the rule when it comes to unusual pets since they are easy to take care of and harmless when it comes to their owner and the environment in which they live. Their only “demand” is that you give them a dust bath often to keep their coats clean and show them love, which they will return in big doses.


Bearded Dragons

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Want to buy a bearded dragon, but don’t know where to find one? Although bearded dragons (and other kinds of dragons and lizards) have become quite popular pets, keep in mind that taking care of one is a very detailed process. They need to be kept at a certain temperature, need a certain amount of space, and have a specific bathing ritual. If you’re not ready to handle it, don’t do it.



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The axolotl is a type of salamander, native to Mexico. Axolotls are used fairly extensively in laboratory settings, primarily to study their regenerative capabilities, and are relatively easy to breed in captivity. Unfortunately, wild axolotls are now considered critically endangered, suffering from the effects of exploitation and pollution, so if you plan to own a few and help them breed then you would contribute a great deal to the animal kingdom.



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The North American river otter could be kept as a pet, but the animal’s wild nature presents many difficulties. They will go through every inch of your home, finding and playing with (and probably destroying) everything they can get their paws on. There’s no doubt you will probably have a lot of fun owning an otter, but you will definitely have to repair your house often.



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Capuchins are social animals that like to spend their time in groups of ten to over thirty capuchins. So, it’s a safe bet that if you “adopt” only one it will suffer from severe depression. Moreover, their personalities change after reaching maturity, which means that the cute, easy going, pet may not be as easy going when it matures. Some mature behaviors include aggression and dung throwing when bored.



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Even though these incredibly cute and innocent-looking animals are fascinating to look at and be around, truth be told sloths do not make good pets because of their sensitive stomachs, specialized diet, hard-to-find veterinary care. However, if you are dazzled by their cuteness, consider joining the Sloth Appreciation Society.



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Most skunk owners will tell you that skunks are wonderful pets and are very intelligent. What they usually don’t tell you is that pet skunks first have to be “disarmed,” which means that they have their scent glands removed surgically at an early age.



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Before you go and adopt a capybara, you might want to take a moment to reconsider your choice. To begin with, capybaras live in groups, thus adopting one by itself is not a good idea. Secondly, they are semi-aquatic so you will need to provide them with plenty of water all the time. Lastly, they are huge! So they need plenty of space to move about. Needless to say, it wouldn’t be a good idea to keep them indoors.


Fennec Foxes

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The fennec fox, also known as the desert fox, is a beautiful, small member of the canine family. Fennec foxes can be kept as pets, although they are not common. They are petite, save for their enormous ears. They behave much like dogs, but since they are not domesticated they do require careful socialization as well as precautions against escape. So don’t blink when you take it out for a walk because you might never see your fox again.



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Wallaroos are really stocky and powerful but will bond quite nicely with their owners if hand-raised and treated well. They can be taught to understand “no” but you should avoid physical punishment because they will definitely attack if they feel they are in danger and you won’t like that.



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If you’re familiar with zoology or wild animals you may have heard of the serval cat. They look similar to a leopard and are really wild. Servals can be affectionate at times and are not normally aggressive toward humans, but remember that this is still a wild animal, which means that it has basic, inherent instincts it needs to fulfill.



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Chimpanzees, which possess incredible strength, are considered some of the most dangerous pets. Chimps have very complex cognition and it can be difficult or impossible to know what’s going on in their minds or how they’ll react to new situations.



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Pythons are the most widely owned snakes in North America. Though they don’t usually consider a human being as food, there have been many cases in which pythons killed humans (usually children). The most recent tragedy occurred in New Brunswick, Canada on August 5, 2013. An African rock python killed two brothers, ages four and six, who were visiting their friend, whose father owned a pet shop below the apartment where they were staying.



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It’s true that you can legally domesticate a bobcat, although I am not quite sure who would really want to do so. Bobcats might be extremely beautiful, but at the same time they are as wild as it gets and even though you won’t be in danger of being eaten alive, they can severely hurt you during a game or confrontation.



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Do we really need to explain why it’s a bad idea to keep one as a pet? Weighing as much as 1000 lbs and sporting one of the most powerful bites in the animal kingdom, the alligator is a wild animal that can eat just about anything, including humans (though to be fair, we are not regularly part of their diet…thank goodness).



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Wolves are sometimes kept as pets, and on rare occasions, as working animals. Although closely related to domesticated dogs, wolves do not show the same loyalty or “friendliness” and are significantly harder to train. If they get too hungry they might attack you, because it’s what wolves normally do.



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Can you legally own a tiger? Even if your name isn’t Mike Tyson? Well, yes, but other than being extremely dangerous it’s also extremely expensive to own. Not to mention that wild tiger numbers have dropped to a record low.



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To own an elephant as a pet you need to have access to A LOT of land. Elephants need space to roam and tons of food (they can put away anywhere between 200 – 600 lbs of food per day!). Also being such a large animal, they can be a huge problem if they were to get spooked or agitated in some way. In fact, according to the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), up to 300 people are killed annually by human-elephant conflicts.

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