15 Exotic (and Legal) Animals as Pets

adult white tiger

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If you want unconventional pets, we bring you a list of 15 exotic pets that you can keep legally. Do not forget to research about state permits and restrictions in detail, and the unique needs of the animal, before deciding to adopt one.

a white and black animal laying on top of rocks

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These puppy-like salamander-looking exotic amphibians are legal in most states. The Axolotl is known for their regenerative abilities; they can regenerate internal organs and limbs! You need spacious cool water filled tanks for them. They are inquisitive by nature, and their diet consists of brine shrimp, bloodworms, and sinking pellets.

white and brown snake on white surface

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Ball Python

Keeping a Ball Python as a pet is legal in most of the states. However, snakes such as this are not for the faint of heart. You need to build a humidity and temperature controlled terrarium for their living. You need to have sufficient sources for pre-killed rodents for their food intake. Ball Pythons are known for their sleek beauty and calm demeanor.

a close up of a capybara near a body of water

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The Capybara is the largest rodent in the world, and looks like a miniature hippopotamus. They can grow to weigh up to 200 pounds, which is why you need spacious enclosures with water access for them to live. They are legal in many states. Like dogs, they love to cuddle, and love to graze on grass.

person holding gray and white rabbit

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Think of an overgrown rabbit, and you have a Chinchilla. While they are legal in most states, you would need spacious cages to keep them. They are low maintenance and curious creatures. Vegetables, fruits, pellets, and hay form their diet. They require frequent dust baths and their gentle purrs will melt your heart.

Close up of Degu Pet

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Originally from Chile, the Degus are considered an invasive species and therefore, most states consider it illegal. Exceptions include states like Delaware. Degus are like oversized squirrels that keep on chewing all the time. You need spacious cages for Degus and their diet consists of vegetables, hay, and special pellets. They are very social animals and should be kept in pairs.

brown fox on sand

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Fennec Fox

The Fennec Fox are desert dwellers. Imagine a fox with an energetic personality and oversized ears, that’s Fennec Fox for you. They are usually nocturnal, and require spacious living spaces. Throw in climbing structures and sandboxes to make it idyllic. Be ready for ear-splitting screeches as well. The diet consists of fruits, insects, and specialized kibbles.

gray kumodo dragon

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Komodo Dragon

You need multiple permits and follow significant restrictions to keep Komodo Dragon as a pet. It is the largest of lizard species and requires special handling. Their living environment should be temperature controlled and as the pet owner, you have to be aware and make provisions for significant risks in care they escape. Be mindful of their diet, which consists of large prey animals like deer.

Donkey on Grass Field

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Miniature Donkey

If you have a proper spread, you can get a permit to keep a Miniature Donkey as a pet. Much like dogs, they are furry, inquisitive, affectionate, and intelligent. You have to keep them in large enclosures with ample grazing space. They always seek your attention. Pelleted feed and specialized hay forms their diet. Again, like dogs, you need to give them proper training.

white and brown horse eating grasses

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Miniature Horse

Aren’t they so cute!!! Miniature horses are legal in most of the states provided you have ample space for their living. These miniature versions are affectionate, intelligent, and loyal companions. Seeing them trotting around the house is an absolute delight. You would need space for them to graze, and give them proper grooming and training. Their diet consists of pellet feed and specialized hay.

parrots on grass field

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Moluccan Cockatoo

Originally from Indonesia, the Moluccan Cockatoo (or, the salmon-crested cockatoo) is legal in most states with necessary permits. These birds are extremely intelligent, have incredible vocal mimicry capacity, mesmerizing dance moves, and have flamboyant personalities. You need large aviaries to keep them, filled with enrichment toys and climbing structures. The diet consists of nuts, vegetables, and fruits.

a baby kangaroo is sitting in the grass

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Patagonian Mara

The Patagonian Mara looks like a cross breed between a deer and a rabbit. You need permits to keep the animal as a pet in various states. They can live in open spaces with ample grazing floors and to run about. They are long-legged herbivores that eat grasses, hay, and specialized pellets. Be ready for loud vocals during the breeding season.

a tortoise is walking on a wooden walkway

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Red-Footed Tortoise

If you really want to test your long-term commitment skills, get the Red-Footed Tortoise. They can live for 100 years. Legal in most states, you need to give them warm enclosures with ample space to graze. They will be your low-maintenance companion that lives only on fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens.

green and white lizard on brown wooden surface

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If you like the lizard species and do not want to handle the likes of Komodo Dragon, the blue-tailed Skink is a good place to start. They are legal in most states. Their occasional hissing can remind you of snakes! You need specialized terrariums for the Skink. Their personality is very calm and docile. Specialized skink food, insects, and fruits make up their diet.

black and white skunk

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The nocturnal Skunk cannot be kept as a pet in all states due to public health challenges. Some states do allow permits if they are descented. The Skunks are affectionate, playful, inquisitive, and intelligent. You need outdoor access space for regular sunbathing and digging. Skunks can become skittish without socialization. Diet includes fruits, insects, and commercial Skunk food.

shallow focus photography of gray 4-legged animal

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Sugar Glider

The Sugar Glider is a nocturnal species that you can legally keep as a pet in most states. Those big goofy eyes with gliding membranes bring a touch of magic! You need spacious structures for them to live. They love to cuddle, play, and explore their abode. Specialized Glider food, insects, fruits, and nectar form their diet.


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