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10 Exotic Animals You Can Actually Own

In the United States, owning a pet is a common occurrence. Whether it is a dog, cat, or even a snake, there is little shock factor in learning that a friend has one of these animals as a pet. Yet, imagine hearing they own a capybara or a bearded dragon? One might think there are laws against owning certain animals and sure, there are regulations on some, but in fact, there are a plethora of exotic animals that one can own. It may require additional work, costs, and/or permits, but it is possible! So, set aside any preconceived notions of dangerous or unusual animals and see if any tickle your fancy. Here is a list of 10 exotic pets that one can own in the United States.

10. Wallaby

Wallabies are active, engaging, and able to create a strong bond with families and fellow household pets. Wallabies are similar to the more well-known marsupial, the kangaroo, but are easier to handle and care for because of their smaller size. This smaller stature allows one to better handle and care for their new companion. It is important to note that in order to own a wallaby, there are additional factors that must be considered. Native to Australia, wallabies are used to warm, vast habitats, which means some climates of North America might not be suitable for this type of pet. For this reason, it is illegal to have a pet wallaby inside city limits in many states. This is why it is important to research beforehand.

If someone is looking for a low maintenance friend, a wallaby is not a good choice. Wallabies are known to be very strong and powerful. Thus, make sure you are physically able to handle and care for a marsupial friend! While owning a wallaby may take additional work than owning a dog or a cat, wallabies are a fun and interesting animal to own. If you are planning on acquiring a pet wallaby, make sure you are ready to adapt and learn from your newfound friend!

9. Capybara

Afraid of your little sister’s pet hamster? Well, then a capybara may not be the right pet for you. Capybaras are the world’s largest rodent, growing to around 3-4 feet in length and weighing as much as 150 pounds. You may think this is a creature from Narnia, but lo and behold, capybaras are a bona fide reality! While the thought of the capybaras size seems daunting, they are actually very cute and friendly pets! They are fairly communal creatures that prefer to live in a group. For this reason, if you are looking to own a capybara, it is better to own more than one! While this will inevitably be more work, it is necessary in order to offer a sustainable and suitable environment for your new pet.

Not only do capybaras require additional companions, but as they are semi-aquatic animals, access to a body of water is vital. Despite their high maintenance nature, capybaras are an adorable and unusual pet. So, if you have the resources, check to see if owning a capybara is a possibility for you! You’ll need to check local zoning laws and whether you will be allowed to have a pet capybara.

8. Turtle

Want to own an exotic animal, but do not have a lot of extra time and energy to take care of one? Turtles are a perfect option for you! Not only are they low maintenance, but they act as an intriguing centerpiece for a living room. With their beautiful shell designs and slow movements, they can be quite mesmerizing! While they may not require a lot of work in the long run, they will need additional care if raising them from birth. In the younger stages, they need extra supervision to make sure their environment is suitable for them. Typical habitats for turtles include both land and water. Not only do they need a diverse landscape, but they thrive in large spaces. The more space, the better!

Did you know turtles have great memories? Well, they do! Often times, they recognize their owner and come when called. Their strong memory allows for the owner and turtle to create a strong, lasting bond. When I say lasting, I mean it! The average lifespan of pet turtles can be up to 40 years. So, if you are looking for a long-lasting friendship with a peculiar companion, look no further!

7. Bearded Dragon

Originating from Australia, bearded dragons are another legal, exotic pet to own in the United States. They are known to be among the most gentle of reptiles. Despite their scaley exterior, bearded dragons enjoy being held and touched. While it is safe to pet these interesting creatures, always wash your hands after touching or holding them because they carry bacteria that can cause illness. On top of being friendly pets, they are also very entertaining! They are diurnal animals, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night–similar to the patterns of humans! Thus, you can spend your days observing your new pet’s movements and habits. For this reason, bearded dragons are commonly kept as pets for families with young children. What better way to teach kids about reptiles?!

While the hard exterior of bearded dragons could turn people off, for some, it is exactly what they need. Since they have no fur or hair, people with allergies are sure to enjoy having a pet that does not make them sneeze! As they are reptiles, they need a warm enclosure and plenty of fresh fruit and veggies to keep them healthy. Also, most cities allow them without a special permit.

6. Hedgehog

In recent years, hedgehogs have become popular among the younger generation. This could be due to the increased popularity on social media or simply because people are starting to find out that hedgehogs are awesome creatures! While these spiky animals look similar to a porcupine, they are much smaller and better natured. So, you can rest assured you will not experience painful quill shots to the chest while holding them. If you find yourself owning a hedgehog, be sure to spend a lot of quality time together–especially in the beginning stages. This ensures a strong bond between the owner and the hedgehog. Hedgehogs are naturally nervous animals. For this reason, it is important to handle them carefully (with heavy gloves), so they can feel comfortable in their surroundings. Not only will this be beneficial for the hedgehog, but for yourself as well.

Hedgehogs have proven to be a low maintenance pet, but this does not mean that this exotic pet is for everyone. They are most active at night, so oftentimes, hedgehog owners have complained of loud noises while they were trying to sleep. Nevertheless, there are upsides and downsides to every pet. This is why it is important to research the habits and patterns of potential future pets to create a great match.

5. Southern Tamandua (Anteater)

Do you have an ant problem? Are you missing a furry friend to fill a lonely void? Well, this animal may be for you. The Southern Tamandua is something of a sight, with their long face and pointy ears. Though they may look exotic and foreign, their needs are very similar to ours. They are attention seeking animals who enjoy cuddling. They are sensitive creatures who may begin acting differently toward their owners if they feel they are being neglected.

Originally from South America, they prefer forests and grasslands. And though they may be legal in some areas of the United States, some environments might not be sufficient for their needs. Hence, the importance of researching exotic animals beforehand. No matter how bad one might want an exotic animal as their own, remember to think of their well being first. While the Southern Tamandua carries itself with an air of wisdom and class, beware of their tongue! Their long tongue is covered with a thick, sticky substance. The substance is not harmful, but it is messy! If you are willing to take the risk of occasionally turning into a human bee trap, check out this species of anteater!

4. Hyacinth Macaw

Coming from Central and South America, the Hyacinth Macaw perfectly encompasses the colorful culture of these world regions. This parrot is as lively as you would expect with loud colors and an even louder voice. Like other birds, the Hyacinth Macaw takes a lot of work and energy to care for. Do not let this deter you though! For those who desire a conversational friend, this bird could be a nice match.

Similar to other exotic animals, the cost of this parrot is quite expensive, but for bird enthusiasts, it is worth the money! Not only is the Hyacinth Macaw aesthetically pleasing, but they are very playful and active pets. They are known to break toys, thus it is always suggested to have a plethora of toys on hand. On top of this, they tend to chew on a lot of things! This chewing, similar to the habits of other birds, is very loud. I would suggest if there is a baby in your home, this parrot would make life much harder! But if you are indifferent to noise, the Hyacinth Macaw has the potential to be a great member of your home.

3. Fennec Fox

Imagine the most majestic looking animal gracefully walking around–in your home. Depending on the state laws regarding the ownership of a Fennec fox, this could be a reality. Fennec foxes are not only beautiful, with pointy ears and a dignified face, they are very similar to common household pets. Some experts say they are a perfect cross between a cat and a dog. Depending on their mood, they enjoy being interactive and playful with their owner, while other times, they are more independent. On top of this, they are about the cutest animals on the face of the planet.

The soft nature of these animals makes the domestication of them a bit easier than others. With that said, Fennec foxes–along with other wild animals–thrive in the wild, thus be very careful and intent on choosing to bring one into your home. Like adopting other animals, adopting a Fennec fox is a commitment–as they live to be around 15-years old. In a sense, it is like raising a child. They live a long time, expect attention, and are high maintenance. With that in mind, longtime owners of these animals have enjoyed them immensely.

2. Spotted Genet

Spotted genets look like a mix between a ferret and a house cat. This combination creates an image of a lemur-like animal. With the elongated neck and striped tail, many would be stumped to know what the animal is. Spotted genets are known to be skittish and territorial. Thus, if you are someone who prefers being close and cuddly with your pets–a spotted genet is not for you. Not only are spotted genets known for being skittish, they also have the potential to respond in a more aggressive way (i.e. scratching, clawing, etc). However, usually, there is little threat and seriousness, as the average size of a spotted genet is around 1.5 feet tall. With regard to their more private nature, they have been known to interact well with people and other house pets, but of course, this depends on the time since the onset of introduction.

The spotted genet is a nocturnal animal, which means their main time of activity is during the night. Depending on an individual’s sleep schedule, this could be a problem. As one can see, a spotted genet is a mysterious and independent animal that may not be the best house pet. Nevertheless, it is still legal in many states in the United States, so more power to any future spotted genet owners. Your neighbors will continually wonder what kind of “cat” you have!

1. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Lastly, on our list of exotic animals that are legal to own in the United States is the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. This infamous, intriguing insect is not only great when talking about future nuclear fallout survival, but they are also very low maintenance housepets! Depending on your preference, these exotic insects could become your next companion. If you find yourself judging the Madagascar hissing cockroach, take the time to get to know them, so you can see for yourself how precious they can be. We cannot promise you will not feel the same way as you did beforehand, but give it a try!

To most, a Madagascar hissing cockroach is far from the preferred house pet, but nevertheless, owning this cockroach is legal in most states in the United States. Not only is the Madagascar hissing cockroach indestructible, they are great at scaling vertical glass. Unlike other cockroaches, they do not have wings, so one only has to worry about their unparalleled climbing abilities. Whatever you decide to house them in, make sure it has a secure top! All in all, if someone is looking for an oversized, hardy insect to gross out your friends with–the Madagascar hissing cockroach has you covered.

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