Popular and Legal Exotic Pets 

July 26, 2022

When we think of having pets, most of us think of a dog, cat, or maybe a fish. However, these types of pets are not the only ones out there. Exotic pets are defined as animals that are not domesticated or are rare. Having a pet is a great way to help you get in shape, make new friends, relieve stress, and laugh daily. Whether you have a traditional or more exotic pet, Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital is ready and able to provide care for your pet.

What is an Exotic Pet?

Before we get into the types of legal exotic pets available, it is crucial to understand what precisely an exotic pet is. Some animals are technically exotic, not domesticated, or with little difference from their wild relatives. However, many people mistake them for tame. Ferrets, pygmy hedgehogs, and chinchillas are sometimes considered exotic pets, but they are domesticated, which separates them from their ancestors. Common examples of exotic pets include parrots and reptiles. The list of pets could be pages long. Still, for the sake of efficiency, the list provided will be pets that meet the following criteria:

  • 1 Lack of the need to free roam in the home
  • 2 Non-excessive social needs
  • 3 Sensible housing
  • 4 Easy to meet nutritional requirements
  • 5 Small size

We have also included caging supplies, little or no smell, and low aggression. Unfortunately, for many people having an exotic pet can be overwhelming. Still, by choosing the right type of pet, you can be assured that you are getting the right pet for you and your family.

chinchilla on white background


The first exotic pet on the list is a hedgehog. The most common misconception about hedgehogs is that they are related to rodents or porcupines. Hedgehogs are not social, meaning they do not have to have a mate/friend. The ease of care is excellent for people who want an exotic pet that does not require much time. Their average lifespan is five-seven years, so the commitment is not as long as a dog or turtle. A hedgehog’s diet consists of fruits, insects, and pre-made food, which is available at most pet stores. Children can also call hedgehogs their own due to the ease of care. 

Rodent Family: Chipmunks, Spiny Mice, Prairie Dogs

Another option for exotic pets is the rodent family. The most common and family-friendly include chipmunks, degu, spiny mice, and prairie dogs. The chipmunk is closely related to the squirrel family and requires the most space for their size as they are very active. They need space for climbing and foraging.

The degu is a highly social animal that would be best suited for life with a companion. They also need a taller bird cage to give them ample activity space. The third rodent on our list is spiny mice. These animals are the domesticated version of the standard mouse you might find in your home. They only need an exercise wheel and an omnivorous diet.

The last pet on our list is the prairie dog. It probably seems like an exciting choice for people in the south, but they are great pets. Prairie dogs are friendly pets that can be trained to wear a small harness or leash. Their diet consists of hay, fruits, vegetables, and prairie dog food. The one downside to prairie dogs is that they can be aggressive toward strangers and tend to be territorial. However, knowing that ahead of time can prevent issues from happening. Like with any new pet, it is essential to do your research. You need to know what that particular animal likes and dislikes. 

fennec fox

Short Tail Opossum

If a pet in the rodent family does not fit what you and your family want, the short tails opossum might be worth considering. The short-tailed opossum is related closely to the sugar glider, a marsupial. They prefer to live alone and need an exercise wheel, water bottle, and typical rodent bedding. The diet is a tad different than other rodents. They require a diet high in animal protein. 


Getting even further away from the rodent family for a pet could look like a Fennec Fox or a Domesticated Fox; both are exotic despite the name. When purchasing a fox, there are several things to be aware of: canids, which means an active predator. They behave more like a cat than a dog and need ample activity space. They are tremendously autonomous and can be boisterous when they play. They are scarce, and when you find one, you can expect to spend upwards of $7000. Foxes that are white or red are much cheaper. However, people often say these “non-domesticated” foxes have a stout smell, making them less appealing than other options.  


A skunk is one of the most, if not THE most, surprising exotic pets on the list. You read that right; the little black and white Pepe Le Pew can be a pet! They will be de-scented before you bring them home to share your space. Skunks eat fruits, vegetables, and dog food. They also love to be out of their cage to exercise. Male skunks should be neutered at maturity to prevent aggression. In some places, skunks are not legal due to the potential for rabies. Skunks do not inherently have rabies; they get rabies when they come in contact with another rabid animal. 

Arthropods: Cockroaches, Tarantulas, Millipedes, Scorpions, Crabs

If something furry is not what you envision when you think about an exotic pet, then check out the arthropods. They are not warm and cuddly; however, they are intriguing. Cockroaches, tarantulas, millipedes, scorpions, and giant land crabs fall into the arthropods category. Cockroaches live between 3-5 years and can require a little more care than expected. Tarantulas might give some nightmares, but others find them exciting and cool pets. These guys are not aggressive and need minimal space for housing.

An African millipede is an excellent option for someone who wants an exotic pet that requires very little care. They prefer to eat decayed vegetation, so their living quarters do not need much care or maintenance. Scorpions might seem like something out of a horror movie, but certain species are fascinating pets. The aquarium should be heated to maintain their body warmth. Giant land crabs are much like the millipedes, they both scavenge, and the crabs are a great pet if you want to dispose of kitchen scraps. 

scorpion and tarantula

Hybrid Cats

If small and furry rodent families, foxes, or arthropods are not what you are looking for in an exotic pet, then hybrid cats might be what you need. Savannah cats are a domesticated cross between a serval cat and a typical domestic cat. The generations of these will range from F1-F6; their size will also vary with age, ranging between 5.5 and 18 pounds. An F1 will be the most challenging kind, and they are costly. Prices range from 10-20,000 dollars. As you move down the generation line, F3 and down are the most widespread exotic cat to own. They lean more toward the dog-type personality, show excitement, and are friendlier. These cats can also be trained to walk with a harness and do not have to be outside like the F1-F2.

Something to remember, the Savannah cat has a strong hunting instinct; it may not be the ideal pet for a household with other pets like fish, birds, or rodent pets. The other common exotic pet is the Bengal cat. They are a cross between an ordinary house cat and the genes of an Asian leopard cat. These cats are great for people who would like an exotic pet without the hassle and involved care that other exotic felines may require. However, you should note that they have an above-average energy level and will need toys/activities to keep them from becoming bored and destructive. 

Exotic Pets, You Might Not Want to Consider

Our list is only a small sample of animals that would be suitable for exotic pets, and there are many more. Keep in mind that some exotic pets, while legal, are more complex than many people realize. Primates are a pet that many people want, but they are extreme upkeep, and many require particular adaptations. Non-domesticated felines will spray indoors and demolish furniture, which is their instinct, not behavior that means you cannot train them to stop doing it.

People will purchase porcupines, sloths, wallabies, and other animals of small size. Still, they require a large cage/housing, and they do not thrive due to the small size of their enclosure. These animals do not have a reliable temperament. Even though they are pretty remarkable, they prove too difficult for the average person. Please remember to do your research before purchasing an exotic animal to save yourself. Still, many of these animals are very difficult to re-home.

Do Your Homework!

No matter what type of pet you decide to purchase, doing your homework will ensure you and your pet are happy. Once you have chosen the perfect exotic pet, Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital has trained physicians to treat your exotic pet. Exotic pets often need more specialized care than traditional pets. If you are looking for the best care for your exotic animal, the crew at Advanced Care is here to provide your animal with knowledge and kindness.

Why Choose Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital?

Advanced Care is more than just a primary care hospital. Our patients and clients are special to us and are why we always treat everyone who comes to visit as another member of our family every time they walk in our doors. We do not treat every patient the same because we understand that each one requires individualized care and attention.