Special Report

44 Most Exotic Animals People Keep as Pets

prilfish / Wikimedia Commons

Americans love their dogs and cats — they’re by far the most common pets in the U.S. Some prefer cold-blooded reptiles like snakes and turtles, and care for them just as tenderly. Others go for the exotic and unique. Have you ever considered having a four-eyed possum as a pet? How about a little rodent that goes by the name of degu?

24/7 Wall St. identified 44 particularly exotic animals that people actually own as pets. We reviewed news, pet expertise websites and other internet sources to compile our list. Not one of these animals is native to the United States, but some may be imported as pets.

It’s important to note that not all of these foreign creatures are allowed to be kept as pets in every state, and some are illegal everywhere in the U.S. For example, the fennec fox, which is native to northern Africa, is one of the fox species most commonly owned as a pet in the U.S. But as of 2014, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, and Washington have banned possession of fennec foxes. Another handful of states — Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas — require a permit or health certificate to have a fennec fox as a pet.

Some of these exotic animals are rarely kept as pets, but they can be, if desired. The zorilla, or striped polecat, for example, has gained the reputation as one of the smelliest animals on earth, and for that reason is not a popular pet. Its North American cousin the skunk is more likely to be welcomed into the household as a pet, if that is an indication of anything.

Click here to see the most exotic animals people keep as pets.

24/7 Wall St. identified 44 exotic animals that people own as pets by looking at sources, namely news site Words I Seek and pet expertise website Pethelpful. Not one of these animals is native to the United States, but some may be imported as pets.

Source: Soumyajit Nandy / Wikimedia Commons

1. African Jungle cat
> Natural habitat: Africa


Source: Geoff Gallice / Wikimedia Commons

2. Agouti
> Natural habitat: Central/South America

Source: Mandy / Wikimedia Commons

3. Asian palm civet
> Natural habitat: Asia

Source: ZeWrestler / Wikimedia Commons

4. Axolotl
> Natural habitat: Mexico


Source: Derek Keats from Johannesburg, South Africa / Wikimedia Commons

5. Bat-eared fox
> Natural habitat: Africa

Source: jjron / Wikimedia Commons

6. Bearded Dragon Lizard
> Natural habitat: Australia


Source: JJ Harrison ([email protected]) / Wikimedia Commons

7. Bettong
> Natural habitat: Australia

Source: 4028mdk09 / Wikimedia Commons

8. Binturong
> Natural habitat: Southeast Asia

Source: Mark Dumont / Wikimedia Commons

9. Bush Baby
> Natural habitat: Africa


Source: Ivanhoe / Wikimedia Commons

10. Capybara
> Natural habitat: Japan

Source: Tom Thai / Wikimedia Commons

11. Chanterelle Fennec
> Natural habitat: Africa


Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

12. Coatimundi
> Natural habitat: South America

Source: Ryskas / Wikimedia Commons

13. Crab-eating raccoon
> Natural habitat: Central/South America

Source: Cliff / Flickr

14. Cusimanse
> Natural habitat: Africa


Source: Pierre Camateros / Wikimedia Commons

15. Degu
> Natural habitat: Chile

Source: Yathin sk / Wikimedia Commons

16. Dik-dik
> Natural habitat: Africa


Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

17. Piranha
> Natural habitat: South America

Source: Angie spuc at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

18. Flying Squirrel
> Natural habitat: Mexico, Central America, India, Africa, Southeast Asia

Source: Bernard DUPONT / Wikimedia Commons

19. Four-eyed opossum
> Natural habitat: Mexico, Central/South America


Source: Charles Barilleaux / Wikimedia Commons

20. Geoffroy’s cat
> Natural habitat: South America

Source: djpmapleferryman / Wikimedia Commons

21. Green iguana
> Natural habitat: Mexico, Central America, Caribbean Islands, southern Brazil


Source: Ana_Cotta / Wikimedia Commons

22. Hyacinth Macaw
> Natural habitat: South America

Source: Yael

23. Hyrax
> Natural habitat: Africa

Source: MaRu180 / Flickr

24. Kinkajou (Flower Bear)
> Natural habitat: Central and South America


Source: https://flickr.com/photos/calliope/4282167421

25. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
> Natural habitat: Madagascar

Source: http://vimeo.com/82544962

26. Marbled polecat
> Natural habitat: Southeast Europe, the Middle East, and Asia


Source: Agência de Notícias do Acre / Wikimedia Commons

27. Paca
> Natural habitat: Mexico, Paraguay,Argentina, and Uruguay

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

28. Patagonian Mara
> Natural habitat: Argentina

Source: prilfish / Wikimedia Commons

29. Pom pom anemone crab
> Natural habitat: Hawaii and Indonesia


Source: Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis / Flickr

30. Prehensile-tailed Porcupine
> Natural habitat: Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Trinidad, and Argentina

Source: Timo1974 / Wikimedia Commons

31. Prevost squirrel
> Natural habitat: Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo


Source: Karlakas / Wikimedia Commons

32. Raccoon dog
> Natural habitat: Eastern Asia and Europe

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

33. Red river hog
> Natural habitat: Senegal, Guinea-Congo forest, and Congo

Source: Robertbody / Wikimedia Commons

34. Ring-tailed cat
> Natural habitat: North America


Source: Rangerbait / Wikimedia Commons

35. Sea apple
> Natural habitat: Indian Ocean and the western part of the Pacific Ocean on coral reefs

Source: Andy Mitchell from Glasgow, UK / Wikimedia Commons

36. Snake-necked turtle
> Natural habitat: Southeastern Australia


Source: Frédéric SALEIN / Wikimedia Commons

37. Spotted genet
> Natural habitat: Southern Africa

Source: Devonpike / Wikimedia Commons

38. Springhaas
> Natural habitat: African savannahs

Source: Quartl / Wikimedia Commons

39. Tamandua
> Natural habitat: Central/South America


Source: Marie de Carne / Wikimedia Commons

40. Tayra
> Natural habitat: Central/South America

Source: Elias Neideck / Wikimedia Commons

41. Tenrec
> Natural habitat: Madagascar


Source: Ltshears / Wikimedia Commons

42. Wallaroo
> Natural habitat: Australia

Source: istolethetv / Flickr

43. Whip scorpion
> Natural habitat: India, Japan, and New Guinea

Source: Paul Syme / YouTube

44. Zorrilla
> Natural habitat: Africa

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