The Top 10 Unusual and Exotic Pets You Can Legally Own

Every now and then, we see photos of people playing with their exotic pets, and it always seems like everyone is happy and having a great time. But is it really that easy to take care of wild and unusual animals at home? Is it even legal?

This article will answer all of your questions! We have compiled a list of the top 10 best exotic pets that are perfectly legal to own. Scroll down to see them all, and you will find lots of interesting information, cute photos, as well as a special surprise at the end!

Hedgehogs are some of the most popular exotic pets at the moment

10. Chinchillas

Cute, fluffy and sociable, these little critters are a very popular choice. This is largely due to their cute demeanor – they resemble an adorable cross between a squirrel, a hamster and a rabbit. In addition, they are generally very friendly, relatively easy to care for, and can even be kept in apartments.

Although the chinchilla are not fussy and quite adaptable, there are several points to consider before getting one as a pet. Firstly, this little rodent is quite active and loves climbing. In order to ensure its full comfort, choose a larger cage, with at least two levels, and lots of climbing toys. Secondly, it is a social animal, who loves interacting with others. You need to spend time bonding and playing with it every day. If your schedule does not allow you to do so, it is advisable to get two or more animals, so they can keep each other company.

Some useful tips for taking care of your chinchilla

A stuffed toy? No – a baby chinchilla!

chinchilla young with dark gray fur, held in the palm of a person's hand, exotic pets, cute creatures you can keep at home

Chinchillas are gentle and patient creatures

mother chinchilla with white fur, pushing gray chinchilla baby, inside a miniature shopping cart, low maintenance pets for apartments, two jars in the background

Another important point is that chinchillas are highly active at night. Once it gets dark, they start climbing and running about their cage, so it is advisable to place it as far away from your sleeping area as possible. If you have a terrace or garden, you can put your chinchilla’s cage out for a few hours a day. However, bear in mind that these little creatures should be kept away from direct sunlight. It might be best to take the cage out in the evening when the sun is setting.

Chinchillas love being hugged and cuddled but you need to give them enough time to get used to you first!

grey adult chinchilla, exotic pets, held in both hands, over a checkered blanket, by a person dressed in white

The chinchilla ears are very sensitive, and it does not do well in loud environments. Keeping it close proximity to noisy animals will make it irritable and anxious, and can even lead to fatal conditions and death. Be careful to put its cage in a quiet area, away from bright light.

“My ears are large for a reason – please don’t yell!”

round box covered with red floral fabric, containing a gray chinchilla, exotic pets, with black eyes and whiskers, and large round ears

Letting your chinchilla roaming free in the garden is not advisable, as its little body is susceptible to parasites and disease. In addition, it might be in danger of being attacked by a neighboring cat. If you would like to give your chinchilla a taste of freedom in spite of these dangers, make sure you have it thoroughly checked for internal and external parasites afterwards!

“Yes, that’s the spot!”

white chubby and fluffy adult chinchilla, sitting in its cage, exotic pets, enjoying being scratched by a human hand

Bond with your chinchilla by gently offering it tasty treats

exotic animals, hand feeding a grey adult chinchilla, with a round treat made of seeds, wicker basket in the background

Chinchillas are very clean animals but they never bathe in water! Instead, they keep their fur spotless by rolling around in special dust several times a week. You can buy some online or at your local pet store.

Chinchillas are highly social animals

toy boat made from pale wooden material, containing four grey adult chinchillas, exotic animals, cute little critters

Their fur is so silky soft that people used to hunt them in the past!

round chubby chinchilla, with soft gray and white fur, exotic animals, seen from the front and the back

Like most exotic pets, chinchillas need some additional care

woman with brunette hair, tied in a ponytail, holding a black and gray chinchilla over her shoulder, low maintenance pets for apartments, cuddly furry pets

9. Tarantulas

Arachnophobes – look away now! The next few images are not for the fait of heart! In truth, these ginormous spiders may seem menacing on the outside, but they possess a mostly timid disposition. Contrary to popular belief and urban legends, most of these crawlies are not even venomous to humans. Usually, their bite is about as painful and dangerous as a wasp sting and, unless you are allergic, it is quite harmless. In fact, keeping a tarantula as a pet is more perilous for the creature itself. Although they are the largest spiders out there, they are still quite fragile, and can be easily injured or killed.

Mexican redknee tarantulas are very common and popular exotic pets

tarantula with black and orange body and legs, exotic animals, large adult spider, inside a terrarium, with dirt floor

Although there are many different species to choose from, if you are beginner, it is best to opt for an earth dwelling tarantula. The Mexican redknee (Brachypelma smithi), Chilean rose (Grammostola rosea) and Curlyhair (Brachypelma albopilosum) tarantulas are a great choice for unexperienced breeders, as they are slower and more peaceful than other species. Plus, they allow to be handled and rarely try to escape.

More suggestions for beginners:

“Hello, friend!”

best exotic pets, close up of a large tarantula, with black body and reddish-brown tint, perched on a human hand

A gorgeous cobalt blue tarantula, weaving its web

blue adult tarantula, with white and yellow spots, best exotic pets, crawling on dried wood bark

Tarantulas in vivid colors have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years. That’s hardly surprising – they are beautiful and unusual, and really stand out when compared to other species. However,  their bright coat usually signifies potential danger. The cobalt blue tarantula, for example, is a gorgeous spider, that has enjoyed a lot of attention, and although it is definitely nice to look at, it is also aggressive and very fast. Its venom can cause severe infections and irritation. Other species, like the Brazilian pink bloom tarantula, rub their hind legs together to release tiny sharp hairs when they feel irritated. These are extremely irritating to human skin and can lead to painful results.

Pretty but dangerous!

multicolored iridescent tarantula, with turquoise and orange body, and electric blue legs, exotic animals, sitting in its web

Brazilian pink blossom

pinky purple and black tarantula, with striped body, exotic animals, resting on a surface, covered with loose soil

One of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before getting a tarantula as a pet is whether you would be comfortable feeding it. Smaller tarantulas need to be given living crickets, roaches, grasshoppers or beetles, while larger species eat small birds, lizards or mice.

mexican redknee tarantula, with black body, and black and orange legs, exotic animals, resting in the palm of a human's hand

8. Parrots

Parrots are some of the most popular exotic pets out there. Beautiful, social and exceptionally intelligent, they make great companions for children and adults alike. In addition, some of them have the ability to mimic various noises, including human speech. Depending on the size of your home, and on the amount of resources you are willing to part with, you can either choose a small decorative bird, like a budgerigar, or go for a large talking parrot. The African grey is the most widely spread species, as it is extremely smart and can easily learn to repeat various phrases.

Your very own feathery cuddle buddy!

yellow and green parrot, enjoying being hugged and petted, by a person dressed in white, best exotic pets

Parrots are by no means fussy, but there are some conditions which can have negative impact on their health. Cigarette smoke, for example, is extremely toxic for them. In addition, they need to spread their wings from time to time, so it is essential to let out from the cage on a regular basis. It is advisable to release them in a room which has no sharp edges or potentially harmful objects.Good hygiene is incredibly important for birds. Ensure that your pet has a small water tub in its cage, so it can refresh itself and keep its feathers neat and clean.

Bird tips for beginners!

girl in a blue jacket, offering food to a large macaw, best exotic pets, parrot with blue, yellow green and white feathers

“Is that a cracker I see in your hand?”

curious african grey parrot, with light gray and white feathers, best exotic pets, perched on a dark, smooth wooden fence

Like all birds, parrots love seeds but if you want your little feather buddy to be healthy, you need to bring some diversity into its diet. Try introducing raw fruit and veg into its menu (but avoid avocado, as it is toxic for birds). From time to time, treat your parrot to boiled eggs and bread crumbs. It might sound strange feeding a bird with eggs, but in fact they contain important nutrients that will help your pet grow up strong.

“Just relaxing with my human”

low maintenance pets for apartments, parrot with orange, green and yellow feathers, resting on a person's pale grey and white jumper, near their face

macaw with turquoise, yellow and green, blue and white feathers, best exotic pets, perched on top of its cage

An adult African grey parrot

low maintenance pets for apartments, two hands with bracelets and a ring, holding an african gray parrot, with grey white and red feathers, bright white background

7. Snakes

Snakes are beautiful and majestic creatures that make great pets. However, they require very specific care and a lot of attention, and are not suitable for every household. Taking care of them can be quite expensive too. They require a warm and well-lit terrarium, with lots of space. In addition, bigger snake species eat mice, birds and rabbits, which need to be especially ordered, and can cost a small fortune. Nevertheless, every snake owner will happily tell you that it is all very much worth it, and that once tamed, these slithering critters make charming companions.

Small, non-poisonous snakes are great exotic pets

exotic animals as pets, tiny yellow snake, with a brown pattern, coiling around a person's fingers, seen in close up

tropical snake with orange and white stripes, black eyes and spots, exotic animals as pets, resting on a lichen-covered branch

Although most pet snakes are perfectly harmless for children, it is advisable to supervise all encounters

young girl trying to pet a large snake, exotic animals as pets, with beige and dark brown scales, lying on a white duvet

Sharply dressed little snake

top hat decoration in black and white, placed on the head of a tiny snake, with orange and yellow scales, exotic animals as pets, coiled on the palm of a hand

“Give us a kiss!”

brunette man wearing a khaki shirt, holding a large snake, with green and yellow scales, exotic animals as pets, coiled around his neck, and trying to lick his nose

ball python with lime green scales, and white and blue spots, exotic animals as pets, coiled on top of a branch

outstretched arm petting a large, adult banana ball python, under the chin, exotic animals as pets, empty dark space

“I’m a bunny, I swear!”

easter costume for a snake, fluffy white and pink, plush bunny ears, worn by a large white snake, exotic animals as pets, inside a terrarium

exotic pets list, man's hand holding a small ball python snake, with light and dark brown scales, dark wooden surface in the background

The rare and magical unicorn snake

unicorn head decoration, made from moulding clay in pink and yellow, worn by a white and pink snake, coiled on a fluffy blanket, exotic pets list

6. Ferrets

Cute, small and fluffy, ferrets seem like the best exotic pets ever. However, beneath their cuddly exterior lies a naughty, hyperactive little critter that is bustling with energy. Although it can be tamed, the process will most likely involve at east a few bites, and a lot of broken household objects.

Before getting a ferret, carefully consider whether you’s be patient enough to provide the care and attention it needs – despite its tiny size, it can do a lot of damage to your home! Not recommended for buys individuals or families with babies or small children.

ferret with pale beige and brown coat, taking a bath, low maintenance pets for apartments, inside a blue plastic basin, half-filled with water

How cute is this ferret kit?

baby ferret yawning, pale gray and light beige fur, exotic pets, lying on a fluffy white blanket, another ferret in the background

adult ferret looking worried, and held by a human's hand, exotic pets list, white and dark brown fur, seen in close up

plush toys in different colors, near a little house, with round entrance, exotic pets list, ferret coming out of the house

Although it takes them a while to get used to it, ferrets can be walked on leashes

chubby and fluffy ferret, with dark brown and white fur, exotic pets list, being led on a red leash

sleepy little ferret, with cream and dark brown fur, low maintenance pets for apartments, laying on a blanket, with a multicolored print

“I am ready for my close up”

pure white and very fluffy angora ferret, exotic pets list, leaning on the armrest of a chair, covered with a white furry blanket

5. Turtles and tortoises 

Many people opt for turtles or tortoises, thinking they are a cheaper, “easier” alternative to a puppy or a kitten. They couldn’t be more wrong! Turtles are complex organisms, which require very special attention and lots of care. It is not sufficient to simply get an aquarium for your animal – you must also provide bedding, food and vitamins, and ensure that the temperature, light and humidity are at the appropriate levels. In addition, it is essential to find out where your pet turtle or tortoise comes from – as a general rule, people should not attempt to care for turtles who have hitherto lived in the wild.

low maintenance pets, tortoise wearing a green and blue, cable knit shell cover, made to look like a dinosaur's hide, orange tabby cat nearby

“What a strange puppy!”

chihuahua dog sniffing a small tortoise, resting on the rim of a white plate, filled with green salad, low maintenance pets

asian child smiling, while holding a small red eared turtle, in his little hands, low maintenance pets, bright white background

The red eared slider is the most common turtle on the exotic pets market

striped green and yellow, red-eared turtle, with dark green and yellow shell, low maintenance pets, seen in close up

tortoise with yellow and dark brown shell, being held by two hands, low maintenance pets, easy to care for

The perfect home for your turtles

aquarium containing water and three turtles, low maintenance pets, decorated with fine sand, a chunk of wood, and various water plants

smiling young boy, watching a large red eared water turtle, low maintenance pets, resting on a smooth white surface, near his face

“Has anyone seen Mario?”

super mario inspired tortoise costume, knitted shell cover in green, white and yellow, made to look like bowser's armor, worn by tortoise with red eyes

4. Llamas and alpacas

Native to South America, llamas and alpacas are becoming increasingly common around the world. Their friendly disposition and clean habits make them an excellent pet for people who live in rural areas. It goes without saying that these cuddly, long-legged creatures need a lot of space to graze and roam about, so make sure you have a large garden (and kind, animal-loving neighbors) before purchasing one!

Friends for ever!

unusual pets, little red haired girl, wearing a top with the us flag, rubbing noses with a fluffy, white alpaca foal

bride and groom, posing with a brown llama, and white fluffy alpaca, also dressed like a bride and groom, unusual pets, funny wedding photo

fenced in alpaca, with fluffy off-white fur, tied with a black and red leash, unusual pets, cute farm animals

“Can I bring my blankie?”

towel or blanket, in pale pink and baby blue, held by the mouth of a fluffy baby alpaca, with brown fur, unusual pets, standing in a garden

No drama llama!

friendly looking smiling alpaca, with pale beige fur, unusual pets, munching on some dried grass, and seen in close up

large gray dog, nuzzling a dark brown alpaca foal, wearing a purple blanket, unusual pets, a white alpaca foal stands nearby

3. Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are the most popular exotic pets at the moment, as evident from the numerous Instagram accounts devoted to their care. No wonder, really – they are simply adorable, and can adapt to indoor life quite well. Plus, they prefer solitary life, so you don’t have to worry that they’ll get lonely. Their diet is quite simple too – they munch on insects and fruit, although you can also purchase special hedgehog food. The only real downside to having a pet hedgehog is that its living area needs to be cleaned every day.

extreme close up of a hedgehog's face, unusual pets, black nose and little black eyes, whiskers and beige-brown quills

bed for hedgehogs, made from striped, teal and white, gray and brown fabric, low maintenance pets for apartments, fluffy white bedding, and small hedgehog inside

“I am a shark!”

pet ideas, small beige hedgehog, decorated with a tiny black and blue shark's fin, sitting on a white tiled floor

mandala-like black and white wall decoration, hand holds a small hedgehog, with grey and white quills and pink paws, in front of it, low maintenance pets for apartments

How cute is this hedgehog couple?

couple of hedgehogs, wearing fluffy pale blue, and light brown plush hats, with bunny ears, pet ideas, fluffy and soft white blanket

after a bath, a happy looking hedgehog, is lying on a pale yellow towel, held by its owner, pet ideas

“Wait, who are you??”

surprised chihuahua dog, staring at a pale yellow adult hedgehog, low maintenance pets for apartments, standing on a wooden surface

dog with jet black fur, sniffing an adult hedgehog, with black face and white and grey quills, pet ideas, shiny wooden table

Huff, the vampire hedgehog is an Instagram star

sharp pointed teeth, on a tiny baby hedgehog, pet ideas, sitting inside a large withe mug, with red stripes, wrapped in a striped multicolored blanket

2. Miniature (teacup) pigs

These little cuties are also gaining more and more popularity, due to their incredible intelligence and adorable demeanor. They are very easy to care for, and can be trained to walk on a leash, and perform various tricks.

Overall, they make delightful pets, and get along with people and other animals quite well. Just bear in mind –  despite bearing the deceptive name “miniature,” your little friend will not stay tiny forever! Teacup pigs can grow to weigh up to 65 pounds or more. Although this is pretty small when compared to other pig breeds, they are by no means a little pet! Make sure you have enough space and recourses to keep them happy and healthy.

A charming ballerina

ballerina piggy wearing a multicolored tutu, leaning on a branch, in front of a large mirror, pet ideas, short white and black fur, funny photo

carrot carried by a tiny piglet, with short pale orange and black spotted fur, more vegetables in the background

Giant rabbit or tiny piglet? You decide!

huge white rabbit, hiding a little pink piglet under its ear, both are laying on a bed of yellow straw

piglet with light pink and black spotted skin, and short white fur, resting on a khaki beige sofa

wellington boots in red, miniature rain booties, worn by a pot bellied piglet, with pale orange and black fur, standing on green grass

Piglets love resting in the sun! Make sure they don’t overdo it though – too much heat can be harmful.

resting piglet napping in the sunlight, pale pink skin, and short white fur, teal blue leash

I think it’s quite obvious who’s the alfa dog in this picture…

pack of five dogs, in different colors and sizes, standing and laying, near an adult miniature pig, with pink skin, white and black short fur

  1. Mini horses

Miniature horses are more than exotic pets – they are the dream of almost every child on the planet! Graceful and cuddly, these little buddies have a very friendly and calm disposition, which makes them the ideal pet for families. Besides, they are resilient and adaptable, and don’t need as much space as larger breeds.

miniature pinto horse, with brown and white coat, holding a red rose in its mouth, and facing the camera

Thumbelina, the world’s smallest horse

very small pony or miniature horse, standing near large horses, and being led on a blue rope, by a blonde woman

running miniature pinto horse, with cream and brown coat, and blonde mane, next photo shows the same animal, wearing a flower crown

Forget diamonds! Ponies are a girl’s best friend!

pinto miniature horse, with white and brown coat, and flowing blonde mane, led by a little girl, wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans

teenage girl in white sweater, with long dark brunette braid, hugging and kissing a tiny, miniature horse foal, with brown coat

Best friends

freckled young boy, smiling and looking at a pinto miniature horse foal, while laying on a field with green grass

calico large cat, laying on straw bedding, next to a newborn miniature foal, with brown coat, pet ideas

BONUS – Fennec foxes!

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the domestication on fennec foxes. Is it right? Is it ethical? Do they even make good pets? We must admit that we don’t really have the answers to those questions. What we do know is a) they are the cutest animal we have ever seen and b) they are definitely not a good choice casual pet owners. Loud, hyperactive and prone to digging, they are definitely a handful!

exotic animals, hands of an older person, holding a small fennec desert fox baby, with large ears and yellowish fur, big black eyes and small nose

adorable fennec fox cub, with pale beige coat, small black eyes and nose, and huge ears, orange background

How adorable is this fennec kit?

cute baby fennec fox, with white fur, and large black eyes, exotic pets, laying on a fluffy white and pale grey hoodie

Sleeping soundly

sleeping adult fennec fox, with pale beige fur, laying on a person's legs, unusual pets, clad in dark blue jeans

paws hiding a fennec fox' face, while it's sleeping on a person's legs, exotic pets list, desert fox pet

Fennecs can be walked on a leash…

sitting fennec fox, desert fox pet, with yellowish beige coat, pet ideas, led on a dark blue leash, stone tiled floor

… and even taught to play fetch!

purple stuffed toy, carried by an adult fennec desert fox, best exotic pets, with dark yellow and white fur, large black eyes, and huge ears

playing adult fennec, with pale yellow coat, standing on it's hind legs, white resting its front paws on a human's hand, best exotic pets, meerkat standing nearby

Fennec foxes can be quite a handful for unexperienced breeders

exotic pets, fennec fox with pale beige fur, black eyes and nose, and large ears, being held by a person's hand

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