32 Exotic Animals You Could Legally Own

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Would you own one?

32 Exotic Animals You Could Legally Own

Do you ever wonder where celebrities and other elites get their exotic animals like tigers and cougars? We watch shows and movies with homes having alligator ponds and out of this world birds. But, could we ever take care of such animals? It is possible in today’s world and fast-growing market.

Typically, we grow up having cats and dogs as pets. This upbringing has been the norm since we could remember. But, nowadays, exotic pets are becoming more and more popular. We see people through social media owning these bizarre creatures that we also want. So, in this article, let’s get to know which exotic animals you can legally own in the United States and how much of a challenge each could be.

Remember, each state in the United States have their own set of laws so, let’s be mindful about state laws so that you could have the dream pet you’ve always wanted!

1. Fennec Foxes

Fennec foxes look like a mix of both a cat and a dog. For all of you Pokemon lovers, this fox is the closest thing that looks like an Eevee or Flareon pokemon. This cute animal smallest species of fox, perfect as housepets! Fennec foxes are native to the Sahara Desert and some parts of North America.

If you take one in as a pet, feed your adorable buddy high-quality dry or canned dog or cat food. As always, good nutrition is vital with a variety of foods. They are nocturnal omnivores that eat plants, small rodents, eggs, and reptiles. So, feeding the fox vegetables, fruits, pinkie mice, rodents, eggs, crickets, mealworms, and commercially available raw meat diets is recommended.

2. Chinchillas

Chinchillas are adorable rodents that have thick and lush fur. They don’t make noises and are low maintenance when it comes to caring for them. Be careful; though they are cute and you’d want to snuggle them, they will bite when squeezed too hard. They do not need a specific type of place, you can have them in a cage or small enclosure, and they’ll be happy and contented.

Chinchillas grow well when fed grass hay, such as timothy hay or orchard grass hay. Pellets should be plain, hay-based pellets, with no seeds, nuts, or dried fruit.

Celebrity Chinchillas Owner: 

  • Martha Stewart has owned at least 15 Chinchillas, and you can read about it here.

3. Freshwater Stingrays

Aquarium enthusiasts love to have stingrays in their tanks. Freshwater stingrays are high maintenance pets. They need a large area to swim in and burrow in the sand. Also, they are susceptible when it comes to chemicals in their water. The tank water needs to be changed frequently, but they make an excellent addition to your tank.

4. Sugar Gliders

Though Sugar Gliders look like rodents, they are marsupials. For over 15 years, they have been domestically bred as house pets in the US. They come from a family of kangaroos and Koala bears. They are herbivores who love fruits and vegetables.

Also, Sugar Gliders have gliding membranes that run along their wrists up to their ankles. These are very low maintenance pets, for they do not smell or need baths.

Celebrity Sugar Gliders Owner: 

  • BTS’s Jin has a sugar glider named Gukmul

5. Emperor Scorpions

Scorpions as pets are a pretty easy task. Although some say that Scorpions are venomous and can be deadly, studies found that they have little venom. The best way to care for this crawler is to have a 10-gallon tank or more, with one area with a heating pad or light and another with shallow water.

6. Capybaras

Capybaras are illegal in some states, but not all. These adorable rodents are the largest rodents on earth. They can grow up to twice the size of a jackrabbit. The catch is that you should take several more to keep them happy when you take one as a pet. They require a large outdoor space so they can thrive.

7. Bearded Dragons

Bearded Dragons are one of the most popular pet reptiles across the US. They are low maintenance pets that resemble a dragon, although relatively smaller in size. They love to be handled but are sensitive to chemicals, so always remember to wash your hands before petting one.

Celebrity Bearded Dragon Owners: 

  • Leonardo DiCaprio’s lizard is named Blizzard
  • Elle Macpherson
  • Nicole Richie has a bearded dragon named Speedy
  • Chris Pratt’s dragon is named Leo

8. Alligators

If you are planning on getting an Alligator, you will need to get a permit first. Alligators are risky pets, and licenses are usually granted to people who are experienced with these animals. Alligators need heat and warmth and a lot of space to go around. If you are thinking about owning one, make sure you are equipped to handle it.

Celebrity Alligator Owner: 

  • Marquis de Lafayette gave John Quincy Adams an alligator where the alligator was the first reptilian beast to grace the White House

9. Miniature Donkeys

Miniature Donkeys are smaller than regular sized Donkey, usually standing at the height of 35 inches. Miniature Donkeys are great with kids, for they are affectionate and loves attention. Don’t worry; they are great with other pets too. They live to about 25 years old so you’ll have all the time in the world with them.

10. Axolotls

Axolotls are a breed of aquatic salamander. They are known for their healing and regeneration abilities. Axolotls are quite messy, so their water needs to be regularly changed. They are very adorable and can be house pets without high maintenance needs.

11. Chimpanzees

We have seen in movies where people have chimpanzees for pets, and it is also possible in real life. Although chimpanzees are legal to be pets, they are hard to take care of. They are highly intelligent creatures but can be disruptive too. If you are up for the challenge, then you definitely could take care of a chimpanzee.

Celebrity Chimpanzee Owners: 

  • Michael Jackson adopted a chimpanzee named Bubbles
  • Elvis Presley’s chimpanzee is called Scatter

12. Potbellied Pigs

Potbellied Pigs are adorable little creatures that originated in Vietnam. They are miniature pigs that you can train to go on walks because, just like ordinary pigs, they can be prone to obesity. Be prepared to pamper and give lots of love to these cute little beings.

Celebrity Potbellied Pig Owner: 

  •  Megan Fox’s pig is named Smalls

13. Reticulated Pythons

Reticulated Pythons are from Southeast Asia. They are considered the world’s longest snake, and although they seem dangerous, people love keeping them as pets. Yet, even though they are pets, they cannot be domesticated. It is best to leave it to the experts regarding taking care of such unpredictable creatures.

14. Hyacinth Macaws

Hyacinth Macaws are the largest parrots in the world. They can grow up to 1 meter in length. There have been issues of entrapment of these birds in the wild, but you can buy these gentle giants from certified breeders in your area. Since they are considered big birds, you will need to provide them with enough space to stretch out their wings.

15. Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are small and adorable little beings that you could take care of with minimal supervision. They usually eat pellets from the pet store, or you could feed them small insects. Also, they could eat little critters like fish, worms, and eggs.

They are interactive and can be taught tricks. Also, they are not noisy. You won’t even need to visit the vet frequently. Just keep in mind that New York’s health code prohibits Hedgehogs as pets.

16. Tigers

More than 5,000 tigers are living in captivity. Some view tigers as large cats that can be tamed and taken care of inside the house, and yes, it is possible. Although possible, owning a tiger can be quite expensive.

They eat more than 88 lbs of meat a day, need exercise, and a vast area to run free. If you can afford this kind of lifestyle and is willing to spend time and money, then you could go and get one for yourself.

Celebrity Tiger Owner:

  • Mike Tyson had three Bengal Tigers by the name of Kenya, Storm, and Boris.

17. Tarantulas

Tarantulas are another creepy crawlers that are now a popular house pet. Although they look cute because they are furry, they do not like being handled. They prefer dark spaces to hide in and rest until their next meal. Their meals consist of insects like crickets, mealworms, and cockroaches. They love to catch their prey, so make sure to give them fresh insects every time.

18. Llamas

Did you know that Llamas are therapy animals? They make a great companion and is family-friendly too! They are social animals, and having other pets together with them is not a problem at all. All they need is an ample outdoor space to roam around in. Llamas are herbivores and oftentimes fed with pellets, grass, and shrubs. They love grazing, so a backyard with grass is perfect for them; other than that, they are considered low maintenance pets.

Celebrity Llama Owners:

  • Michael Jackson owned two pet llamas: Louis and Lola.
  • Hugh Hefner owned a llama named Lambert.

19. Two-toed Sloths

These slow-moving creatures can also be house pets. Some might have succeeded in keeping them, but oftentimes, it is a struggle for they are high-maintenance pets. However, they are omnivores that love fruit and vegetables but also small insects and lizards.

Recreating their natural habitat is a challenge, but if you are up for it, then you’ll have an irresistible pet in your home. Be aware that their slow movement is a defensive move to protect themselves from predators.

20. Porcupines

Porcupines are spiked rodents that can be hard to handle but can be considered as pets. You need a ton of patience and skills to take them and give them the proper care they need. They can be trained and taught some tricks but be aware that they are solitary animals. In some cases, they may show affection towards humans.

21. Cougars

Cougars are dangerous in the wild, and some may think that they are untamable. But or some, they can be pets. You need to be careful, though, for they are huge and have a mighty jaw that could easily crush you. You’ll need to give them a lot of space too.

They love to hunt for their food, just like in the wild, and they can eat large animals like deers. Also, they prey on livestock if they have a chance. Though they can be tamed, they can never be domesticated.

22. Turtles

You can see that turtles are ordinary house pets, but they are still exotic animals. The most typical breed of pet turtles is the Red-ear Sliders. You can even find them in your local pet stores. They mostly eat pellets from the pet store or green vegetables like cabbage. Sometimes, they feed on smaller fish if available.

Be careful of what fish to provide them, though. Some fish are poisonous to turtles. They are a bit high maintenance, for they need a big tank with a heating dock and enough water to swim in. Some owners even have a separate tank for feedings. All in all, they are still fun to take care of.

Celebrity Turtle Owner: 

  • Leonardo DiCaprio has a $400 African Spurred Tortoise

23. Squirrel Monkeys

Squirrel Monkeys are small, weighing about 2 lbs at most. They are perfect pets for tiny houses and apartments but keep in mind that they are very active.

These adorable monkeys are omnivores. They usually eat fruits and small animals like insects and lizards. Sometimes, they eat bird eggs, too. They have high energy levels, so make sure you can manage these cute little rascals and keep up with them too.

24. Burmese Pythons

Burmese Pythons are not for the faint of heart. They can grow up to about 20 feet or more and weigh up to about 250 lbs. They need a large space to grow in and need live food to hunt down and eat. They usually opt for rodents and other small animals but will look for larger animals to hunt like pigs and goats.

It is expensive to take care of a Burmese python. But, they are reasonably easy to take care of once you get the hang of it. Most people who have these as pets are experts on reptiles.

Celebrity Burmese Python Owner: 

  • Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash several large Burmese pythons
  • NBA player Mikki Moore has two albino Burmese pythons

25. Giant Prickly Stick Insects

This stick insect is native to Australia and is relatively easy to care for. They can grow to about 8 inches long, and females have beautiful thorn-like spikes that are usually for camouflage. Their food comprises fresh leaves of blackberry, raspberry, oak, rose, hazel, and eucalyptus. They do not need a lot of supervision, and you can clean their space once every few weeks.

26. Anteaters

Anteaters can be a tricky pet to have because you’ll need the patience, time, and temperament to care for them. These solitary animals can be tame when raised at birth, and you’ll need to be knowledgeable about its care. In the wild, anteaters spend a lot of time in trees. They will need many climbing opportunities where you decide to house them, whether indoor or outdoor.

Their diet is vital to their well-being, and they have no teeth, so you’ll have to feed them soft foods. You can provide them high-protein insectivore powder mixed with water, insects, honey, fruit, and different types of kibble powder. So if you’re up for the challenge, then anteaters are an excellent choice as an exotic pet.

Celebrity Anteater Owner(possibly): 

  • Salvador Dali was seen walking and photographed with an anteater, but it’s not confirmed that he owned one

27. Kangaroos

Take a hop to the “Land Down Under” with these fascinating beasts. Kangaroos require lots of open space to hop around and special feed for their diet. Red and gray kangaroos can be pets in the United States and Canada and usually costs thousands. These “roos” can also jump high, so fencing that can prevent them from going over and withstand their kicks is essential.

Celebrity Kangaroo Owners: 

  • Vanilla Ice’s kangaroo name is Bucky Buckaroo escaped and then was reunited in 2018
  • Elvis Presley was gifted a kangaroo by the booking agent Lee Gordon where Elvis later donated it to the Memphis Zoo

28. Wallabies

These cute, furry friends are smaller than their bigger cousins, the kangaroos. These marsupials require an advanced level of care, just like the kangaroo, as mentioned earlier. Wallabies are friendly to their owners and can be jittery to humans. Wallabies can be costly to keep, but if you have the money, space for them, and time, they can be great pets.

Celebrity Wallaby Owners: 

  • Elvis Presley

29. Skunks

Owning a skunk isn’t as stinky as it sounds. Skunks can be cuddly, friendly and learn to be comfortable when handled. Known for their robust and foul-smelling spray as a defensive mechanism, people usually wouldn’t consider them pets. If you think skunks are your kind of pet, it’s best to keep them inside to escape to the outside and defend themselves. They can also be curious and mischievous, so you’ll need to keep an eye out for them.

30. Bengal Cats

These exotic looking felines are attractive because of their spots and stripes. Bengal cats can be social and dog-friendly if trained early on so they can be excellent pets. They are also intelligent cats and love the water. Just like some house cats, they are excellent hunters, territorial, and are affectionate. But be ready to pay a pretty penny because they can cost several thousands of dollars.

Celebrity Bengal Cat Owner: 

  • Megan Fox’s Bengal Cat is named Rosh

31. Serval Cats

Another feline that’s on our list, Serval Cats, are native to the Sahara Deserts. They have the physical traits of lean, long body, and limbs. Contrasting the Bengal Cat, the Serval Cat can be challenging to have at home because it can’t be domesticated. They are wild animals and require specific living conditions and a nurturing environment, think zoo-like space. These cats like to run, swim, climb, and hunt so a lot must be considered before owning a Serval Cat.

32. Leopard Geckos

Leopard geckos are easy to care for because they are docile and easy to tame. Maintaining their cages and environment is easy to maintain and doesn’t require too much care. They don’t climb walls because there are no sticky toe pads and are slow-moving most of the time. When they’re hungry, they are vocal about it with chirps and squeaks.

Final Thoughts

These 32 remarkable animals are legal, depending on which states you reside in the United States. However, there are other laws to review and permits or licenses to be had if you want to own one of these exotic animals in some states. With illegal trafficking of exotic animals, some of these are almost extinct. Some animals are going extinct because of the demands they get in the market, even when people do not know how to take care of such animals properly.

When we buy pets, especially exotic ones, we have to be mindful of their needs and origins. As pet owners, we must be educated about each pet we bring home, whether it’s a dog, cat, or an exotic pet. Each animal is unique and should be treated as such.

Do you own any of these exotic animals? Do you want to own one? Tell us about your experiences or why these exotic pets would make a great pet by commenting below!

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

wow i thought they were mean