From Rats to Kangaroos: 29+ Unusual Pets People Actually Own

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From elusive and energetic rodents to prehistoric reptiles, exotic animal lovers have shown some pretty unique taste in pets. Here's a roundup of some interesting creatures that people have welcomed into their homes.

Coatimundi

Coatimundis are the long-snouted cousins of the common American raccoon. And like their cousins, they have tons of energy and can stir up trouble wherever they go. Despite this, they make a popular choice of pet.

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One key difference between them and their garbage-ravaging kin is that they follow our clock - meaning they sleep at night. However, during their waking hours, they can show aggression, especially after reaching a mature age. And for that reason, many sources recommend against having these pets in the same home as children.

Chacoan Mara

These unique rodents have weaseled their way into the hearts of many exotic pet lovers. For one, their appearance is unlike any other, in fact, they're often thought to look like a combination of two or more animals. The chacoan mara is often described as a cross between a rabbit and a deer.

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But as cute and cuddly as they may appear, these wild rodents come with some challenges as well. For instance, due to their non-domestic nature, they have a tendency to chew up everything in sight and have energy levels that can prove to be difficult to keep up with.

Degu

Unlike some of the other more ferocious animals on our list, the Degu makes for a relatively easy companion. In the wild, these rodents grew accustomed to living in pods of up to 100 degus, which made them incredibly sociable. But one key fact makes them appealing to rodent-lovers.

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Unlike so many other scurry fluff balls, the degu isn't nocturnal. That's right: owners don't need to fret about a bustle of activity in the middle of the night. Instead, they make for excellent nappers and often greet their owners with excitement. These small rodents can live for up to 8 years if cared for properly.

Gambian-Pouched Rat

The next rodent on our list has also been banned from the United States following an outbreak of monkeypox in the early 2000s. However, their story in the United States took an adventurous turn when eight captive rats escaped in the Grassy Key region of Florida.

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The eight rats created a colony of their own and ended up posing a threat to the local wildlife due to their territorial nature. However, if kept in captivity properly, these giant rants can be just as cuddly and intelligent as the common rat house pet, just roughly double the size.

Kinkajou

Although small in size, the kinkajou requires all hands on deck when being kept at home. Also known as the honey bear, these South American-native mammals require a home environment that mimics that of the rainforests and can prove to be quite the challenge. And this is no short-term pet. Some can live for up to 40 years!

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On average, the kinkajou is known to be quite docile, but if spooked can resort to some violent behavior in self-defense. Overall, a highly experienced owner is required for these wild mammals, in addition to a varied diet and a lot of space for constant exercise.

Snake-Neck Turtle

This unique type of turtle can be found in the wild, off the coast of Australia, but has come to be a staple in aquariums around the world. For many, the appeal lies in their distinctive appearance and relatively rare status. But as interesting as they are to look at, caring for them is no walk in the park.

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The snake-neck turtle requires a very specific kind of environment to live a happy and long life. If the water is too cold, the turtle is at risk of hibernating to the point of starvation. On the flip side, if the water is too hot, then their digestive abilities are interrupted, also leading to their demise.

Binturong

Almost as if straight out of a scientist's lab, the binturong has the face of a cat, the body of a small bear, and the tail of a monkey. Hence their second name, the bearcat. These unique mammals can be found in the tropical regions of southeast Asia and are related to an Old War class of creatures.

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One of the most unique traits about them is their distinctive odor that smells like buttered popcorn. However, despite the appetizing smell, they make for difficult pets due to their love of climbing and near-constant vocalizations. Want to see more bizarre pet choices? Keep scrolling...

Kangaroo

According to online sources, kangaroos in the United States are sold for upwards of $3,000 and are a controversial addition to the family home. For one, many experts in the Australian marsupial believe that it's near-impossible to create a home environment sufficient for these wild animals.

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For starters, there has been no reported success in housetraining these giant leapers. They have extremely high levels of energy and do best with sprawling grounds for running and jumping, and have been known to suffer when being kept indoors. However, for those willing to take a shock, they're one seriously exotic pet.

Alligator

These prehistoric reptiles make for one seriously exotic pet, especially in the United States. As of the time of publication, pet alligators are only legal in five out of the 50 states across America. Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin are the go-to places for alligator lovers.

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But for those who are able to welcome these scaly dinosaurs into their home, they're signing up for quite the caretaker role. While miniature as babies, it's reported that alligators can grow up to a foot each year and eat roughly a quarter of their weight each day. In addition, they can live for up to 50 years!

Boa Constrictor

These giant serpents have been the villains of many action movies, yet make for the ideal pet for some exotic creature lovers. While some local authorities do not allow for the purchase of boa constrictors, where they are allowed, people are willing to spend large sums of money to take one home.

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But adopting one of these snakes can be a 20-year commitment in some cases, with their lifespan noticeably prolonged if cared for properly in captivity. Overall, the boa constrictor can be seen as a low-risk and long-term choice as a pet, as long as they're kept happy and healthy.

Caracal

Caracals are wild cats that are native to the Middle East, Central Asia, and the dry regions of Pakistan and Northern India. And just like the Geoffroy's cat, these felines may be a cat-lovers dream, but they're most certainly not recommended as house pets.

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But despite the warnings, some exotic animal lovers have brought these furry predators into their homes, usually after getting them declawed. But as of the time of publication, most States have a specific caracal ban in place, with a few exceptions like Nevada, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Zebra

According to the International Zebra-Zorse-Zonkey Association, there's an estimated 3,000 zebras in backyards across the United States. Depending on their purebred status, some of these striped trotters can sell for upwards of $4,000. And business has only gone up since the 2005 film Racing Stripes.

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Since the film came out, zebras have been seen as an exotic substitute for more common breeds of horses, but experts warn that they're nowhere as easy to train. They can take up to a year to become ridable and have a kick that is so lethal that it can kill a fully grown lion, according to NPR.

Capuchin Monkey

According to The Spruce Pets, capuchins can live up to 45 years in captivity and have become popular exotic pets thanks to Hollywood appearances like Justin Bieber at the Comedy Central Roast, Ross Geller in Friends, and the 1994 children's comedy Monkey Trouble.

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But in reality, while capuchins may be cute, it is incredibly difficult to provide them with a mentally fulfilling life in a domestic setting. Many experts believe they suffer as pets due to isolation and lack of stimulation and physical exercise. However, that hasn't stopped people from paying up to $7,000 for one.

Ostrich

Despite its large size, the ostrich is one of the exotic animals on our list that has been successfully domesticated. The domestic ostrich derives from many other types of wild ostriches, including the North African, blue-necked, Somali, and more. They're currently being bred all over the world for purchase.

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They're also one of the few exotic animals that can provide for their owners. From plumage to eggs, these giant creatures can live a happy life in the yard in both warm and cold temperatures. However, many warn about their lengthy lifespan and sharp claws to interested buyers!

Fox

Whether red, gray, arctic, or Fennec, overall foxes make for fairly challenging pets. Despite being in the same family as dogs (Canidae), no successful attempt at domestication has been made. No matter how cute they may look, these creatures are wild animals and tend to act as such.

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Depending on the type of fox, between 12 to 15 States in America allow these energetic trouble makers as pets. And for those places that do allow them, owners sign up for restless nights, as these creatures are known to vocalize and dart around as soon as the sun sets.

Kusimanse

The common kusimanse is a miniature relative of the mongoose and can live for up to 10 years in captivity if cared for correctly. And like the degu listed above, the kusimanse has been a go-to choice for exotic rodent lovers who also cherish a good night's sleep. This rodent is also diurnal, meaning it rests at night.

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However, the downside to these pets is that it can be a challenge to keep them stimulated. In the wild, they lived incredibly active and social lives, living nomadically within a pod of up to 20 other kusimanses. They also grew accustomed to hunting for their own food, including larvae and small insects.

Whip Scorpion

Don't let the name scare you off, these creatures are actually Arachnids and pose no threat to humans. They're often confused with other, more dangerous critters, but these little ones have no venomous fangs and can make for great companions for the bug-lovers of the world.

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In the wild, whip scorpions typically live in little clusters and take up residence in tight vertical spaces that shield them from predators. Tree trunks, caverns, and boulders are just some of their go-to home bases and make for great inspiration for recreating their environment at home as well.

Patagonian Mara

Like the Chacoan Mara, this type of rodent is distantly related to the common guinea pig and is sought after for its unique and almost fantastical appearance. Most owners keep their rabbit-like companions in petting zoo-like enclosures, but some have reported success with house training.

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And according to The Spruce Pets, some owners have even had success with clicker training and leash walking! If you want to keep your Patagonia mara happy, it's recommended to give them lots of space to dig and to keep them in a male and female pair. Keep scrolling for more exotic pets...

Geoffroy's Cat

The Geoggroy's cat is a must-have for many exotic cat lovers. Their size is a huge selling point for owners that don't have a huge property at their disposal because this breed is one of the smallest types of wild cats around. In captivity, they can live for up to 20 years.

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On average, an adult Geoffroy's cat can reach 24 inches in length and can weigh in at anywhere from 4 to 11 pounds. But don't let their small size fool you, these felines are definitely wild and have the energy levels to match. They also love hunting and feast on small rodents and bugs in the wild.

Marbled Polecat

The marbled polecat may look familiar to the untrained eye, and that's because they are closely related to a more common pet, the ferret. However, there are some key unique differences that set this critter apart from its more commercial family member.

exotic equivalent common ferret
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For one, polecats are typically larger in size. They are far less social than ferrets as they lived relatively solitary lives in nature. But most importantly, the marbled polecat has the ability to emit a rancid smell from its glands when it feels threatened or frightened.

Bat-Eared Fox

If cared for properly, this large-eared fox can live a happy life for up to 14 years in captivity. In their full adult state, the bat-eared fox reaches only around the size of a small dog, weighing 12 pounds maximum. They come from the Saharan grasslands but can be found all over the world due to breeding in captivity.

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While not as domesticated as dogs, the bat-eared fox can be trained to use a litter box and even respond to simple commands like "sit" and "come," according to zookeepers and owners. In addition, they're known as more well-behaved compared to North American foxes.

Jerboa

Jerboas are some of the rarest rodents when it comes to exotic pets. And that comes from a variety of reasons working against their favor. For one, jerboas originate from Northern Africa in addition to the Middle East, and there are tight restrictions on importing creatures from these regions.

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In addition, these small rodents need ample space and don't fare well in captivity for the most part. For the few jerboas found in zoos and research centers, it was difficult to breed them in captivity and the mothers often rejected their offspring due to the unnatural conditions.

Raccoon Dog

This eye-catching creature has created a lot of confusion due to its name. But let the record show that these medium-sized mammals aren't raccoons, rather, they belong to the canine family. They're native to northern Asia and eastern Siberia but have spread across Europe as well.

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However, the raccoon dog (also known as a tanuki) is nowhere close to as trainable as the common domestic - or even wild - dog. And organizations actively discourage people from trying to purchase them. However, due to their unique coloring and rare status, there are some brave owners who still risk it.

Dik-Dik

The dik-dik is a type of miniature antelope that hails from the continent of Africa. There are four types of dik-diks including silver, salt, Gunther, and Kirk subspecies. But amongst them all, the dik-dik only reaches a height of roughly 1 foot tall.

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And while their petite stature makes them an appealing animal for some exotic pet lovers, purchasing them is highly discouraged by experts and zoologists, and has even led to some bans on importation in various countries, with zoos getting an exception.

Tiger

For those familiar with the Netflix series Tiger King, this next mammal won't be too much of a surprise. But as beautiful and regal as these giant creatures may seem, tiger experts strongly discourage people from buying them as personal pets. For starters, these enormous cats can weigh more than 600 pounds in adulthood.

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Beyond their large size, these striped predators can live sometimes two decades and prefer a solitary life except for the occasional mating and cubs. While some tiger owners feel as though they have a bond with their creatures, it is often noted that the behavior of a wild animal can never be totally predictable.

New Guinea Singing Dog

As their name suggests, this wild dog breed is best known for its unique and piercing vocal capabilities. It belongs to the common grouping of Dingoes, which represent the wild dog breeds of Oceania and South East Asia. And while some efforts have been made to tame these canines, they've never fully been domesticated.

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Owners of these South Pacific hounds have characterized them as affectionate with their family, but standoff-ish with strangers. Coupled with their predator-like instincts, it can be a challenge to predict their behavior. In addition to their temperament, they're approaching near-extinction.

Turantula

Despite their bad reputation from Hollywood and folklore, the majority of tarantulas that are kept as pets have the venom potency equivalent to that of bees or wasps. For that reason, they make for fairly exotic-looking pets without a high-risk factor involved.

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However, depending on the type, some tarantulas can be a struggle to care for. For example, when they feel threatened, these arachnids can bite or erect brittle hairs from their body that can irritate the skin of humans. In addition, some breeds are known as extremely fast, which leads to them escaping their tanks.

Capybara

The capybara is the largest rodent in the world and can weigh up to a staggering 170 pounds in its adult years. But despite their large size, these South American creatures make for surprisingly good pets, if the necessary arrangements are made to keep them happy and healthy.

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The capybara pictured above is named Caplin Rous and resides in Buda, Texas. His life is nothing like that of his wild kin in the forests of South America, however. Instead, Cappy enjoys daily walks, yogurt in the morning, and a lot of attention from passersby.

Tamandua

For the art historians out there, the Tamandua may be familiar already. The famous artist Salvador DalĂ­ kept this type of anteater as a pet and was famously pictured walking it down the streets of Paris, France. And apparently, he was on to something. According to many, these creatures make for suitable pets.

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Owners and zookeepers alike compare the tamandua's temperament in captivity to that of a household cat: cuddly with owners at times, but also lovers of alone time. For those interested, it's reported that these creatures are sold at a price anywhere from $1,500 to $8,000, depending on their breeding status.

Spotted Garden Eel

This unique type of eel has grown in popularity amidst fish tank enthusiasts as they make for compelling displays. The spotted garden eel belongs to the heterocongrine subfamily, according to Reefs Magazine. The entire subfamily utilizes their tails to root themselves in the ground, creating a grass-like appearance in the water.

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However, as unique as they look, they make for challenging pets to keep happy. They need very specific conditions in order to thrive in the water and often perish due to novice owners. One of the key requirements involved in keeping these skinny fish happy is making sure to mimic the tank's bottom to that of the ocean floor.