Are you looking for a pet but don’t want the typical furry mammal, tropical fish, or canary in a cage? Are you the kind of person who considers being called “weird” a compliment? If so, an exotic, unusual, or downright creepy pet might be exactly what you need. While some exotic pets have complicated care requirements, others are easy to care for and perfect for beginners.
Macaws are large parrots from the tropics that are usually very colorful and exotic looking. They can make challenging and fulfilling pets but do require knowledgeable owners. Because they are so large and intelligent, they require sufficient space in a cage with a lot of enrichment items. They also must be tamed and trained in order to become affectionate and not aggressive. Large exotic birds like macaws have long lifespans and keeping one as a pet can be like having an extremely loud, active, bored toddler for 40-80 years. That said, many people love these birds as pets and have very close, successful relationships with them.
Iguanas are an enticing and attractive lizard to consider as a pet. They have exotic dragon-like looks and grow larger than most other pet reptiles. Keeping an iguana is not as easy as it might appear at first, however. Because these critters can grow huge-up to 6 feet long- they can be a challenge to house properly. While well-tamed iguanas can be docile and will allow you to touch them, some can become aggressive. Iguanas need large habitats and also require sufficient time outside of their cage to explore and exercise. If you decide to go with this animal for a pet, make sure you research well before taking the plunge.
These snakes are among the largest that are kept as pets, and as such, they can be dangerous. Reticulated pythons can grow to more than 16 feet long and are known to be cantankerous, although if cared for properly by experienced handlers, this risk is reduced. Because they are so large, caring for these snakes can be a challenge. They need large enclosures that also contain enough water for them to fully soak, a hide or two where they can shelter, and heated areas. They also eat large food such as whole chickens or rabbits. Because of these reasons, reticulated pythons are only suitable for experienced snake handlers. For most people, smaller snakes like ball pythons and king snakes are much better pet options.
While many people get shivers at the mere sight of spiders, others find tarantulas to be fascinating (and shocking) pets. Keep in mind that tarantulas aren’t the cuddliest of pets. Although they can be tamed and will allow people to hold them, they prefer to stay in their cages. Tarantulas must be fed insects and other invertebrates, which can add to their interest or to their yuckiness, depending on who you ask.
Hedgehogs are adorable and make fascinating pets. They can be easily frightened, but also get to know and trust their caretakers. They are nocturnal, so they may keep you up at night if they are housed near your bedroom. This also means that they’re not active much during the daytime, so you may not see them as much as other pets. They need large cages with a lot of room for their active natures. They like to run on wheels like hamsters and also play with toys and other enrichment items. Hedgehogs can be fun and engaging companions, but make sure you understand their needs and personalities before you bring one home.
Squirrel monkeys, like other monkeys, tend to be loud and messy. They aren’t the best pets for most people, even though they’re adorable and entertaining. These monkeys are small, but they are social and need to be kept in groups. They are also very smart and curious and can get into a lot of trouble. When squirrel monkeys are upset, they can be very loud and will throw feces. They cannot be housetrained so must be kept in cages with a lot of enrichment items and things to climb on. While they are one of the most fun animals to watch at the zoo, unless you can mimic that kind of enclosure, it’s best not to keep them as pets.
Did you know that you can legally own a pet skunk in several states and some countries? Pet skunks can be fun, entertaining, and lovable pets. Skunks are social and bond with their owners. They are also stubborn, curious, smart, and clever, meaning they require entertainment to keep them busy and they are likely to get into trouble when left alone for long periods of time. Most pet skunks are bred in captivity and have their scent glands removed when they are small.
Axolotls can be interesting and unique pets, although they are not likely to interact much with their owners and they certainly aren’t going to want to be held or cuddled. Axolotls are small salamanders that never metamorphize and continue to breathe water. As pets, they are housed in aquariums. They need strong filters as they tend to be messy, and they eat invertebrates such as shrimp.
While most people don’t know you can have pet cockroaches, and the very idea makes many people squirm, they can be a fascinating hobby. Large exotic cockroaches, like Madagascar hissing cockroaches, can’t infest your home. These large insects can grow 2-3 inches long and prefer to live in social groups- so don’t try to raise just one. One of the most interesting things about these creatures is that they appear to give live birth. They are actually ovoviviparous, which means they keep the eggs inside the mother until they hatch similar to some sharks and snakes.
Hermit crabs can make fun pets for people who don’t expect a lot of close bonding time with their animals. Hermit crabs live in small tanks or cages and require a humid, warm environment. They are social, so you can keep several of these animals together in one cage. Hermit crabs rely on second-hand shells for protection, so always keep a few shells in a variety of sizes in their cage. If you plan to get hermit crabs as pets, be aware that these animals can be surprisingly long-lived, and you may have them for up to 10 years!
If you are looking for an interesting, exotic, or unusual pet, there are plenty of options. While some exotic animals are only legal in certain locations, others are actually mainstream and can be found in most big box pet stores. Some are a bit harder to find and will need to be acquired from a breeder. No matter what exotic pet you choose, make sure you understand its care requirements before purchasing it.