Exotic Animals and Pets

Exotic animals
While the experts may advise against it, the trend of keeping exotic animals as pets is fast becoming a rage across the world. Interestingly, the list of exotic animals which are sold as pets today includes some species which you must have never imagined in your home.
Animals are wonderful companions to have as pets. An animal gives us unconditional love, which cannot be compared to anything else in this world! Dogs and cats are the obvious kind of domestic pets one would love to have around the house. When a dog gives a loving lick or a purring cat sits in your lap, the feeling is simply out of this world! However, there are many who prefer to have exotic animals and birds as pets, rather than the normal domestic species. This could be for any reason. Either they really love the exotic creature and so want to own one and take care of it, or they may want it as a status symbol, to show off.

Exotic animals and pets are generally domesticated either for the fun/status element, or bred in captivity to protect the species, in case it is on the verge of extinction. There are many animals and birds out there that we have never even heard of, which are already on the verge of extinction. Just getting to know the variety of species out there is an experience!

Exotic pets are those creatures which are rather unusual to have as pets. They could include various species of reptiles, rodents, birds, etc. There are many exotic pets that are not considered truly wild in nature. They can be trained to adapt to a domestic lifestyle, and become pets. Such exotic animals need proper care and diet, so that they can have a healthy life. Many even share a beautiful relationship with humans. But it may not always be the case. That being said, it is always best that an animal is allowed to thrive in its natural environment.

There are many issues pertaining to the domestication of exotic animals. For example, there are many laws in place, which do not allow the export, sale, and hunting of animals which are considered threatened/endangered, and those which are listed as priority animals. These laws are issued to prevent the sale of such 'pets' around the world. But these laws are very poorly enforced and while being transported or smuggled, the animals suffer a lot. The law can only do so many things. What feels right and what does not is left to us.

Here is a list of exotic animals, some of which are suitable as pets, others which are best left alone. This list includes animals that are unusual to have as pets as well as those that cannot be legally kept as pets.

Birds
Black Capped LoriesYellow-bibbed Lories as PetsRainbow Lory Holding on a Tree BranchNeopsittacus MusschenbroekiiYellow Colored, Rose Ringed ParakeetBlue Macaw BirdsGray ParrotThe Crimson RosellaRed-Sided Eclectus ParrotThe Eclectus ParrotRed-lored AmazonsThe Blue and Yellow MacawRed-cheeked MacawColorful Scarlet MacawHyacinth Macaw CoupleBeautiful American GoldfinchZebra Finch in Central AustraliaCockatiel Sitting on a Tree BranchWhite ParrotGroup of BudgerigarsSun Conure ParrotRed Eyed Blue-crowned MotmotIndigo Bunting on a BranchPainted Bunting Perching on a BranchFischers Lovebirds Close TogetherFlamingo in the OasisRecurvirostra AvosettaCollared Aracari ToucanBeautiful Pelicans on RockAfrican Crowned Crane

Parrots include most of the birds shown above. They are a vast species. The macaws, cockatoos, cockatiels, amazons, lovebirds, lorikeets, parakeets, sun conures, etc., are all different types of parrots. The African Gray Parrots, which are mainly found in the rainforests of Africa, have become a popular choice for pets because of their sweet and gentle nature. They love mimicking and talking.

Eclectus parrots are mainly famous for their brilliantly colorful plumage. Males boast of a bright green plumage, while the females are red and blue/purple/dark brown. Of all the parrot species, eclectus' are the most sexually dimorphic. But they are also considered pests, since they eat fruits off trees.

Lorikeets and parakeets are medium-sized arboreal parrots which love feeding on sweet fruits/flowers full of nectar. The ones with the long tails are lorikeets/parakeets, while the ones with short tails are called lories. The budgerigars and sun conures featured above are also classified as parakeets. Conures refer to really small parakeets.

Finches, buntings and motmots are passerine birds and are really small. Their diet consists of small berries and seeds, and they too, love nectar like the lories. Buntings are very similar to finches due to which they are usually put in the same category, but the Painted and Indigo Buntings shown above are classified into the Cardinal Family. In recent years, the incidence of smuggling of these birds has increased greatly because of the appeal that they hold as exotic pets.

The Cockatoo is a protected species, and white cockatoos are kept as pets more than black cockatoos. They are pretty finicky creatures though, and it is difficult to cater to their needs. Cockatiels are a small version of the Cockatoo, which are native to Australia. They are easier to care for.

Lovebirds are extremely popular pets and famous for their affectionate and monogamous nature. They are really small parrots and make for beautiful pets. It is always better to get them in a pair though, since they do not like being apart from their mate. They feed on fruits, vegetables, seeds, grass, etc.

Macaws are also a type of parrot, and shown above are blue macaw, blue-yellow macaw, scarlet macaw, and the red fronted macaw. The Hyacinth macaws are the ones with the largest length and wingspan. Macaws are relatively large parrots and are classified as exotic pets.

Pelicans, flamingos, toucans, avocets, and crowned cranes are not pets but can be classified as exotic birds. Toucans are characterized by large, colorful beaks, while flamingos stand out because of their beautiful color, and long, slender and graceful necks. Avocets are very close knit and get extremely hostile and aggressive if any other species tries to get close to their group and nest with them, while pelicans are gregarious and known for their throat pouch. The crowned cranes are now classified as endangered species, since they are reducing in number due to the loss of their natural habitat.
[ Top ]


Animals
Mammals
Monkeys

Erythrocebus MonkeyGuereza MonkeyCentral American Or Geoffroy's Spider MonkeyCentral or South Mantled Howler MonkeyBlue African MonkeyBrown Vervet Monkey
Long Nosed Proboscis MonkeyPhilippine TarsierSquirrel Monkey with BabySaki ApeGolden Lion Tamarin SittingCapuchin Monkey Hanging on Tree

Featured above are some rare and exotic species of monkeys. Monkeys are considered to be one of the most intelligent animals, and are not usually kept as pets. There are pretty few instances of monkeys being kept as pets.

The Patas/Wadi/Hussar monkey feeds on insects, fruits, tubers, etc., which is pretty unbelievable for a creature of its size! They generally stay on the ground, and live in missions. They prefer open grasslands to dense forests, and reproduce heavily. They are very closely related to the Vervet monkeys.

Vervet monkeys are diurnal, and are characterized by their black face, white fringe of hair, and their gray body. They eat vegetables, eggs of small birds, fruits, flowers and small animals, bread and crops. The young ones who give wrong calls for predators are punished by the mothers.

Proboscis monkey is classified as threatened by the IUCN. This species is also known as the Dutch Monkey. They have a really big belly and a long, hanging nose. They live in groups, are fairly laid back and relaxed, and feed mainly on leaves and fruits. They too, are known for their vocalizations.

The colobus monkey contributes to the eco system by having bad eating habits! They disperse the seeds due to the way they eat. Colobus is a derivative of the Greek word Kolobos, which means 'maimed', and the colobus monkey is so called because they have no thumb, only a stump in its place. They live in small groups and everyone in the group pitches in to take care of the young ones.

Tarsier monkeys are not suited to breeding in captivity. Their population is dwindling fast and the IUCN listed it in the world's 25 most endangered primates list in 2008.

Squirrel monkeys are omnivores, are fast and agile, and unlike most monkeys do not use their tails for climbing, instead using it to serve the purpose of balancing themselves. They are very useful in areas of research as well, since they are used as stand ins for humans illnesses.

Spider monkeys are proven to be the most intelligent of all New World Monkeys, as like squirrel monkeys they are used in labs to study malaria since they are very susceptible to that particular disease. They are also the largest monkeys and very social creatures. They also have quite a repertoire of vocalizations in their kitty, including 'barks'.

Saki monkeys have hooded heads, small bodies and long, bushy tails. They are mostly on trees and very rarely come on land. They are mainly frugivores, diurnal, and they are also really shy creatures.

Black howler monkeys are pretty large, and one of the laziest species of monkeys. They sleep or laze around for most of the day, and only ever come on the ground for water. They are famous for their vocalizations and their tail doubles up as a fifth limb, thus making them very agile.

The blue monkeys stay in matrilineal societies. They are extensively hunted for bushmeat. They are sometimes found in groups of the colobus monkeys or red-tailed monkeys. They are extremely territorial, and get aggressive when defending their territories.
[ Top ]

Foxes/Wolves/Others

Arctic Fox in SnowFennec Fox as PetGray Wolf Canis LupusAardwolfManed Wolf in Sunlight
Alpacas in GrassfieldWhite Llama Grazing on GrassRed Fox with Orangish-red FurAfrican LemurAfrican Wild Dog Hunting

Wolves are also on the list of exotic animals and pets. The wolf-dog hybrid is a subspecies of this category. However, it has always been a matter of great debate to have wolves as pets.

Foxes also feature on this list of exotic pets. Well, the Fennec Fox is the only species of this category that can be considered to be 'safe' as pets. These active animals need plenty of space to move around. There are many legal issues when it comes to owing a Fennec Fox.

Lemurs are extremely popular as pets. Their maintenance is pretty hard work, so you have to be prepared to make a lot of changes in your house and lifestyle to accommodate a lemur in your home. But people who have lemurs as pets, simply cannot stop raving about how adorable and fun they are.

Llamas and Alpacas are both camelids, and are domesticated for various purposes. They are usually referred to as beasts of burden, and their fur is used for many purposes like making handicrafts, rugs and garments. Llamas are extremely social animals and generally live in herds. The Alpaca is a smaller version of the llama, and some are notorious for spitting. The wool obtained from these animals is lanolin free and very soft.

Wild dogs, specially the Indian Wild Dog, are now classified as endangered and hence feature in this list of exotic animals. They are very social, hunting animals and contrary to popular belief, do not always harm humans, but are in fact quite scared of them, The African Wild dog, too, is endangered. African Wild Dog hunts have a success rate of almost 80%, which is much more than that of lions (only 35%). They are also really considerate creatures and after feeding, they come back to their pack and regurgitate food for their young ones, and for those who were left behind.

Pukus are classified as threatened by IUCN. They are crepuscular antelopes and the males are known to be really chivalrous and protective of the females. They mark territories and try to coax the females to stay within them.

Koalas are currently a priority species as listed by the Australian Government. They are herbivorous in nature, with extremely slow metabolism. Their slow metabolism is also the reason they spend most of the day sleeping. Koalas are arboreal marsupials and love eucalyptus leaves.
[ Top ]

Others

Sugar Glider Petaurus BrevicepsTwo Prarie DogsStriped SkunkRaccoon Exploring for FoodHedgehog Exploring GrassAntilopine Kangaroo Near Beach
White WallarooBlue Ribbon PigCute Little FerretElephant ShrewSpotted Halmahera CuscusKinkajou or Potos Flavus

Sugar Gliders can be bred in captivity, and a large number of these species are sold legally as well as illegally. They are a protected lot in Australia, where it is illegal to keep them or capture them without a license. Capturing a Sugar Glider is allowed only for research.

Prairie Dog is native to the grasslands of North America. Because many of these animals are captured for exotic pet trade, it can be illegal in the United States to keep it as a pet.

Kinkajous are playful animals and are often kept as pets. These are now a protected species.

Wallaroo closely resembles a combination of a kangaroo and a wallaby. Most Wallaroos display some typical traits to the earlier mentioned species.

A pet skunk is definitely a rare pet but does belong to the list of exotic pets. These intelligent animals are highly curious and playful in nature and so make wonderful pets. But keeping a pet skunk is not a child's play. They require a lot of maintenance, and lots of healthy diet foods and an equal amount of attention and play from their owners.

There are 16 species of hedgehogs in Asia, Africa, New Zealand, and Europe. These are distinctive because of the spines on their back. The most common domesticated species are the White-bellied Hedgehog and the North African Hedgehog. They are useful pets to have in the garden, as they act as an effective way of pest control.

Pot-bellied Pig is a domesticated variety of pig that has its origins in Vietnam. These pigs are often kept as exotic pets in the United States of America. They are intelligent but they do not like overtly affectionate humans.

Ferrets are mostly found in New Zealand. They need to be trained at a young age. Initially, ferrets were kept as exotic pets by celebrities. In the recent times however, there is a restriction in terms of keeping ferrets as pets.

Raccoons are not usually considered ideal to have as pets, therefore, there are many countries where this may be prohibited. In some areas, one would need to have a special permit to keep a raccoon as an exotic pet.
[ Top ]

Rodents

SquirrelDeguWhite Chinchilla on Black BackgroundBeaver with Dark Brown Fur
BettongWater Vole Arvicola TerrestrisBrown Bank VoleEuropean Ground Squirrel

Flying Squirrels do not actually fly, they glide. These are often bred in captivity and have been kept as pets since the US colonial Era.

Rats as pets have been popular since the 18th century. They can be trained just like dogs, and make for cute pets, if you like them. Usually, brown rat and its variants are kept as pets, while black rats or pouched rats are rarer as pets. They need to be vaccinated regularly to ensure that they do not pose health risks. They do require attention and exercise. Since they are very social animals and tend to feel lonely if kept alone, it is better to keep them in pairs of the same sex.

Chinchillas are cute little furry creatures that are rather rabbit-like in nature. Chinchillas do not like being held as pets, but if kept as pets, they do show an attachment to their owners. They need ample space to move around, as they are very active animals. You would need to create a mountainous sort of environment to make them feel at home.

Degu is an animal related to the Chinchillas. Degus are growing in popularity as pets and one would need to provide it with a suitable environment so that it feels comfortable at home.

Beavers are family creatures. They mate for life and stay with their partner and kids. But keeping a beaver as a pet requires some attention on the owner's part. They will burrow, and chew wood, so anything that is made of wood will first have to go out of the house if the beaver has to come in. Else, you will have to keep it caged all the time, which is just not done. That said, beavers make excellent pets.

Squirrels include the ground squirrel, flying squirrel and squirrel glider shown above. They have excellent vision, and an under-developed thumb. These rodents are extremely playful pets and being a little destructive in nature they will require you to give the, supervised playtime. As far as their feeding is concerned, they require food that contains very little cellulose, and lots of fats, proteins and carbs. As pets, squirrels will require you to keep a watch on them, lest they wreak havoc in your absence. While ground squirrels are diurnal, the flying species tends to be nocturnal.
[ Top ]

Chipmunks/Marmots

Staring MarmotSilver-gray Colored Hoary MarmotLeast Chipmunk SittingBrown Siberian ChipmunkColorado Chipmunk on the Edge
Cliff Chipmunk by a Mountain LakeUinta Chipmunk on GrassYellow Ppine Chipmunk at Mount RainierThe Eastern ChipmunkSmall Hopi Chipmunk

Squirrels also include chipmunks and marmots. Chipmunks are small squirrels with stripes. They spend almost 16 out of 24 hours a day, sleeping. They are excellent burrowers, and play a very important part in the ecosystem. They are predators to eggs of birds as well as their young ones. They are very, very clean animals.

Marmots are really large squirrels which hibernate during the winter months. They are social creatures and "talk" to each other by making various whistling sounds. They feed on fruits, flowers, roots and grass. They prefer the mountainous areas as their natural habitat. It is advisable to not keep marmots as pets, and in many countries it is illegal to do so anyway. They are best suited to their natural habitat and are not comfortable as pets.
[ Top ]

Gerbils/Hamsters

Golden or Syrian HamsterDwarf Hamster as PetBrown Roborovski HamsterMongolische Rat HamsterRussian Dwarf Hamster
Brown GerbilMongolian JirdMidday Jird RodentEuchoreutes NasoSouthern Treeshrew

Hamsters are one of the best species one can have as pets. However, in Australia, it is illegal to breed hamsters.

Gerbils are also known as Desert Rats and are bred selectively. One can find a variety of gerbils in pet stores.
[ Top ]

Rabbits/Mice

Holland Lop BunnyWhite Bunny RabbitBrown Fur Colored Marsh RabbitCottontail Rabbit Sitting on the GrassBrush RabbitYoung Pygmy Rabbit
common TreeshrewMuscardinus AvellanariusGarden Dormouse Eliomys QuercinusPygmy TreeshewField MouseDeer Mouse

Rabbits are really small, adorable mammals which like living in meadows and grasslands. They are herbivores and are playful and need exercise. As pets, they can be potty trained, and fed hay or grass. They make excellent pets for kids, but they need to be handled with care since they are really delicate and fragile creatures. They are also really friendly, so if you have a cat, dog, or some other rodent, then a rabbit would seem a sensible addition since they get along well with these creatures. The Holland Lop is one of the smallest species of rabbits. This is also one of the most popular breeds as it rates very high as a 'cute' pet.

Mice are also kept as pets. Although they are considered pests by many, they also have gained a lot of popularity as pets. They are nocturnal mammals, and have poor vision, remarkable hearing, are playful, and like company. This is the reason they are so popular as pets. They are apparently really sweet tempered and loving in nature. But keeping a mouse as a pet will involve a great deal of your attention and supervision, since these little rodents are prey to almost every other living creature bigger than itself.

Dormice are also kept as pets, though not very commonly. Dormice are almost like squirrels. They should ideally be kept in groups. These creatures hibernate for such long intervals that you may well forget that you had a pet. They are omnivores and live in small groups. Although called dormice, they are not really related to mice, and they are more popular as a delicacy in many parts of the world than as pets.
[ Top ]

Guinea Pigs

Cavia Porcellus PigHedgehog BabyBaby Coronet Guinea PigGuinea Pig Eats DillPeruvian Guinea Pig
Short Haired Rex Guinea PigSilkie Guinea Pig PeruvianSkinny Guinea Pig IsolatedHamster Guinea PigGuinea Pig Eating

Guinea pigs are so adorable. Need I say more? But first things first. They are neither real pigs, nor are they from Guinea. Guinea Pigs are native to the Andes. They are a hybrid species and need to be handled well to make good pets. Guinea pigs are pretty similar to rabbits, meaning they startle really easily, and run or hop for cover. They love being in groups of their own species, and lose their sparkle if kept alone, and may suffer from depression and loneliness. They generally do not get along very well with other pets. They love to swim, and hop around when they are happy or excited. Their diet consists mainly of grass and hay, and when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, they can be really fussy and finicky. If they do not get food on time, they tend to chew their hair. If you have a guinea pig as a pet, you have to be really alert and attentive to their health, since they try to hide that they are ill. So you may not know they are in pain or suffering from a disease till it becomes very severe. They need some getting used to, to being kept as pets, but once they get used to their owners, they are really sweet. Like dogs wag their tails, guinea pigs whistle whenever their owners come. They are shy and timid creatures, and make extremely adorable pets.
[ Top ]

Cats

Bobcat HuntingAfrican ServalCanada LynxLynx lynxEurasian Lynx
Norwegian Forest Cat WatchingRagdoll CatDomestic Bengal CatOcelotSphynx Kitten

Keeping wild cats is illegal and this act may not really be fair on the animal. However, there are many groups of people who love to have this exotic animal at home.

Ocelot is a wild cat but its appearance is a little like a leopard. It was considered endangered earlier, but of late, several attempts are being made to protect this species.

A leopard cat is almost as large as a domestic cat. This small wildcat is found in areas of Southeast Asia.

The wild cat is sometimes included under the category of the domestic cat. This cat is extremely timid and native to Europe, Africa and western parts of Asia.

Serval is an African wild cat, mainly seen in the savannahs. This beautiful animal is a protected species in many countries.
[ Top ]


Amphibians and Reptiles
Iguanas/Salamander

Orange Iguana on River's EdgeBelt Tail Iguana on RockYellowish-orange colored Land IguanaAn Alert Green Iguana
Blue Spiky Lizard on StoneMarine Iguana In WaterThe Fijian Crested IguanaStriped Texas Barred Tiger Salamander

Iguana is actually a lizard that is found in tropical areas of South and Central America. There are two species of the same, out of which one is popular as a pet - Green Iguana. The Green Iguana is bright in color and is amongst the most in demand as an exotic pet. However, there are many rules being implemented for the breeding of this species. For e.g., it is illegal to breed or import the Green Iguana as a pet, and one can face severe charges if found guilty of the same.
[ Top ]

Frogs

Xenopus Laevis, African Clawed FrogAmerican Green Tree Frog Basking on a LeafLeopard FrogWhite's Tree Frog Resting
Frog with Big Red EyesCroaking Red Spotted ToadSouth American Horned FrogBlue Poison Dart Frog

African Dwarf Frogs are native to the Sub Saharan region of Africa. They are rather tiny in size and can be bred with some tropical fish as well.

Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad is a tiny exotic animal that belongs to the frog species. Often, these frogs are founds as pets and can be recognized due to their bright green color.

American Green Tree Frog is a very popular species of frogs kept as pets. Exotic pet lovers can keep as many as three frogs in a terrarium.

African Clawed Frogs are relatively easy to keep as pets hence their popularity is on the rise. These species are found throughout the regions of Africa.

Newts are quite popular as pets. But due to the destruction of habitat, their numbers are on the decline. Therefore, in the UK, this is a protected species and possessing newts without a license is considered illegal. There are nine of this species that fall under the strictly protected series.
[ Top ]

Snakes

Corn Snake on a Tree BranchBullsnakeTri-banded Coloring on Mexican Milk SnakeDeadly CobraPython Regius
Emerald Tree BoaLampropeltis getulus califoWild Diamondback RattlesnakePeuropean Sand ViperEverglades Rat Snake in Bush

Snakes are also considered exotic pets by many. Often, these are bred in captivity, as they tend to be easier to handle.

Python Reticulatus is a non-venomous snake, found in areas of South East Asia. It is known so because of a very complex pattern on its body. It is not known to attack humans, however, it can do so when it feels threatened. This species is growing in demand for captive breeding.

Corn Snake, also known as the Red Rat snake, is distinguished because of the small pattern on its belly side that resembles a corn. Being rather quiet in nature, these non-venomous snakes are quite popular as pets.
[ Top ]

Lizards/Geckos

Argentine TeguBaby Barking GeckoBearded Dragon, PagonaAustralian Blue-tongued SkinkThe African Fat-tailed GeckoGreen Color and Red Dots on Madagascar Day Gecko
Pictus Geckos Emerald Green Color, with Red Marking on Peacock Day GeckoTokay Arboreal GeckoFrilled DragonGreen Anole lizard (Anolis carolinensisGreen Gecko Dotted With Red

Geckos are the only type of lizards which are distinguishable because of the chirping sounds that they make when interacting with each other. They are suited to warm climates and find it difficult to adapt in regions with low temperatures. They have well formed padded feet which allow them to climb even smooth surfaces and walls without any difficulty. One good thing is that geckos love to make their homes with humans since they get the necessary warmth that they require in homes. Also people really do not mind having geckos as pets since they feed on unwanted insects and pests and thus, are very useful. Geckos come in a wide variety of bright colors like purple, green, pink, golden, blue, yellow, brown, etc.

Geckos make for excellent pets since they are docile in nature and easy to tame. They are also easy to care for and maintain, and they do not need you to play with them or walk them either. They are suitable pets for beginners. They are experts in burrowing. They have tails which fall off, so if you happen to grab a gecko by its tail, then you will be left with only the tail. But this is not a cause for worry, since they are also capable of regrowing their tails. Geckos need to be well fed, with plenty of vitamins and calcium to replenish the supply used up during the production of eggs. They love mealworms, baby food, and flies and insects. They get bored of the same diet and need some variety. Overall though, geckos make wonderful low maintenance pets.

Lizards, anoles and tegus also make excellent pets. While anoles and frilled lizards are more expensive to maintain than tegus, and also require a lot more work, all three are wonderful pets. The tegus, specially, are very intelligent, and form great personal bonds with those who care for them well. All of them are bright, and well behaved, and will feed on worms, insects, and vegetables. Just like the geckos, they also need their vitamins and calcium, and if cared for properly, they will give you company for a long time.
[ Top ]

Turtles

Common Snapping Turtle, ChelydridaeEastern Box Turtle WalkingSea Turtle SwimmingSwimming Loggerhead Sea TurtleTrionyx TriunguisThe Ornate Box Turtle
Painted Turtle Basking on a RockSlider TurtleRed Bellied CootersSpotted Turtle Walking AloneThe Wood TurtleRed-eared Terrapin

Turtles are similar to tortoises as regards keeping them as pets. They have really long life spans, so they can be in your family for generations. It will be cruel if you get a turtle on a whim, and then grow tired of talking care of it, and neglect it. Also, when you get a turtle, you have to remember that you are not just committing yourself to it, but your children too. Besides this, turtles smaller than 6 inches are banned by the FDA. They also pose grave health risks, since they are carriers of the salmonella bacteria. You will have to maintain extremely high standards of hygiene with a turtle as a pet. They require a lot of work on your part if you get one home. Shown above are a few exotic turtles and others which are popular as pets.

Box turtles are distinctive from others because of their dome-shaped shell. It is recommended to avoid having box turtles found from the wild as pets. These species are extremely affected due to changes in surroundings. They need to be handled carefully.

Yellow Mud Turtles are found in the central areas of the United States. Yellow Mud turtles tend to snap at people or bite when kept as house pets.
[ Top ]

Tortoises/Chameleons

Fischers Chameleon ClimbingColorful Veiled ChameleonParson's Chameleon HuntingAfrican High Casqued ChameleonHorned Chameleon on a BranchChameleon Furcifer Pardalis
Giant Tortois of GalapagosTestudo HermanniHing-back TortoiseLeopard Tortoise Moving Slowly Marginated TortoiseThe Radiated Tortoise

Chameleons are a special class of lizards. The most unusual characteristic of chameleons is the ability to change color to camouflage themselves from any perceived threat. They are often kept as household pets. Given below are a few species of chameleons kept as pets.

Fischer's Chameleon is also known as Usambara two-horned chameleon. They prefer to be housed individually. They require large enclosures and proper air ventilation throughout the cage. The life span of this species, with proper care, is 5 years.

Veiled Chameleons have a decorative growth called "casque" on their heads, that is how they derive the name veiled chameleons. The casque of a male is usually taller than the female's. They have a life span of about 5 years and make the most hearty pets when compared to other chameleons in the same league.

Parson's Chameleon is native to eastern and northern Madagascar, and it is illegal to import this species from their native country. However, they are most popular as pets mainly due to their life span which is about 20 years. There are several beautiful color variants, common ones being green or turquoise with yellow or orange eyelids.

Jackson's Chameleons, also called three-horned chameleons are the primary source for exotic pet trade. Their life span is estimated to be 5-10 years, sometimes longer. Their color is usually bright green with some traces of blue and yellow. It is a striking and beautiful captive, and makes for an excellent pet option for moderately-experienced chameleon owners.

Panther Chameleon, like other chameleons, should be housed individually. They are better to watch than handle. They exhibit bright and brilliant color variants and grow in length up to 15-20 inches. Their life span is estimated to be about 5 years, and can live longer with proper care.

High-casqued Chameleons grow up to 10 inches in length, and their color varies across a range of vibrant hues. They make excellent pets because of their docile temperament.

Tortoises live for a long time (anywhere from 70-100 years), hence they can be thought of as lifetime companions. In fact, they will outlive you, so you have to worry about how they will manage, and who will take care of them after you. They are high maintenance pets and their dietary habits can pose a problem. Different tortoise species vary greatly in their nutrition requirements, hence a thorough research regarding their dietary needs is essential. These exotic pets may not want to cuddle, since they are not fans of overt affections. They are generally reclusive pets. Tortoises are endangered, so they should be bred and raised by specialized breeders only.

It is important you choose a tortoise species based on housing, environmental needs, and most important, its dietary needs. The Galapagos Giant, Hermann's, Hinged, Leopard, Marginated and Radiated Tortoises make excellent exotic pets. As with all exotic pets, a qualified vet should be consulted when getting any of these species, to confirm its good health or behavioral problems, if any. This is besides checking whether the laws are OK with you keeping any of these as pets. But the general advice is that, tortoises are difficult pets and should be left alone in their natural habitat.

[ Top ]

Insects/Arthropods/Others
Spiders/Tarantulas

Mexican Redknee TarantulaBrown Baboon TarantulaBaboon TarantulaGuyana Pinktoe
Wolf Spider Crawling on Fall LeavesBrazilian TarantulaLatrodectus HasseltiiLycosidae Licosas

Tarantulas are really hairy and large spiders, which make for petty exotic pets. Although their bites can be poisonous, they are treatable and not really a cause of concern. So­me tarantulas have appendages on their feet, spigots, which help in producing silk. Shown above are the desert tarantula, king baboon and orange baboon tarantula, pinkoe tarantula, redknee tarantula, and the zebra tarantula, all of which are pretty spectacular to look at, and will surely throw a few curious and envious glances your way. Tarantulas diet can include lizards, tiny birds and rodents.

Spiders are also kept as pets. The ones featured above include wolf spiders, the brazilian wandering spider, redback spider, black widow spider, and the brown recluse spider. The black widow, specially, is more popular than the rest. Big spiders also eat insects and really small rodents. Spiders cannot eat solid food. They release a digestive enzyme into the animals, liquefy their insides and then drink it.

Letting it known that you have a spider or a tarantula as a pet will add a certain edginess to your personality as well.
[ Top ]

Hermit Crabs/Scorpions/Others

Giant African Land SnailAfrican Giant MillipedesThe Emperor ScorpionScorpion (Buthus Occitanus)
Hermit Crab in the CaribbeanHermit Crab Coming out of ShellScarlet Reef Hermit CrabBrown Madagascar Cockroach

Hermit Crabs are not directly related to true crabs. They are often noticed carrying an empty seashell on their back, which they withdraw into whenever they feel threatened. This empty shell is also a protection for their soft abdomen, which is very vulnerable when exposed. People who have hermit crabs as pets say that these creatures can be very loving. They are without a doubt really fascinating. Their care does require work, so be prepared for it if you decide to get a pet hermit.

Scarlet Hermit Crab has a bright red body. It is one of the most popular species used as an exotic pet. Common Hermit Crab/Soldier Crab, is seen in rocky areas as well as sandy shores and also makes for a really sweet pet.

Scorpions are most feared for their deadly venom. The large Emperor Scorpions shown above are amongst those exotic species which are kept as pets. Actually, scorpions make for excellent pets, since they are pretty harmless until provoked, require less maintenance compared to other exotic pets, and also don't need too much space. You will have to feed it insects, unless you are allergic to the bite of an emperor scorpion (how would you know that anyway?), they are similar to bee stings - painful, but not fatal.

Snails and millipedes are definitely a curious choice as pets, but they do make wonderful pets. They are both slow, so managing them is no problem. And as long as you have a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, you are set. When millipedes feel threatened, they excrete hydrogen cyanide, so if you happen to be handling a millipede at the time, it can cause your skin to burn a lot. Snails apparently are not good for the ecosystem when they are out and about, but when kept as pets they are said to be really loving. They are also pretty intelligent creatures and appreciate human contact, so maybe you could cuddle up with your pet snail or slug. Besides which, many people think that snails are really cute and adorable (go figure)!

The Madagascar hissing cockroach is another creature that is popular as a pet. Cockroaches in general make for great pets, but the one shown above is specially popular. They make ideal pets for children, since they are slow moving, docile, and do not bite. They are really easy to care for and maintain.
[ Top ]

Others

Assassin Bug on a LeafMulti-colored BeetlePraying Mantis Perching
Flying DragonflyColorful Spiny MantisMantodea


The Praying Mantis gets its name due to its prayer-like stance. It is legal to have certain types of Praying Mantis at home, which are native to the place, but in case of non-native species, the same could result in a fine.

Assassin Bug is one of the simplest insect to keep as a pet. Out of the thousands of species of assassin bugs found all around the world, the red spotted and the twin spotted assassin bugs are mostly kept by insect hobbyists.

Dragonfly is a winged insect with large multifaceted eyes, an elongated body, and two pairs of transparent wings. Even though it has six legs, it cannot walk properly. However, owing to its strong wings, this insect is known to be one of the fastest insects in the world.

Beetles are not only really cute, but they are also very useful. This insect with two pairs of wings helps in controlling populations of other pests in the surroundings. Keeping it has a pet is not so difficult if you are aware of its needs.

Fireflies are interesting pets to keep and admire. With a short life span, they can give you company only for a couple of weeks. As per the warning released by the APCC, this tiny fly can prove to be fatal for some exotic reptiles. So if you have both of these as pets, make sure they do not see each other.

Cicadas also make for exotic pets. Around 2500 species of cicada are found all around the world. If you live in areas with temperate to tropical climates, this insect will prove to a nice pet because of its adaptability to such climatic conditions. This exotic pet will never fail to grab attention due to its large size and unique acoustic talent.

Spiny Mantis is an attractive species of mantis, native to Africa. It doesn't like to run around for food and therefore, ample food must be provided if it is kept as a pet. Even though it is quite easy to keep, one must not forget to provide ample ventilation to it because it fails to survive in low ventilated areas.

The Walking Stick Insect is a fascinating, colorful insect which requires low maintenance. It is quite popular as a pet due to its unique appearance. However, it must never be allowed to escape into the wild as it can prove to be a dangerous pest causing ecological problems.

Everything said and done, we are the best judges of whether we can provide the care that these animals and birds require. Everybody has their own place in nature, and everybody will thrive only when they are allowed to be where they belong. Training animals and birds that are not meant to be pets, to be domesticated will kill their spirit and not give you a chance to experience their true nature anyway. Only and only if you can provide your pet with the love, care and attention that it requires to thrive and be happy, should you go ahead and get a pet. Uprooting someone from their natural habitat, specially if it is against the law, just because you want an exotic pet as a status symbol, is really not right! We must live and let live.
Advertisement