5 Exotic Animals You Can Keep As Pets

Ever dreamt of having a pet that's a little more unique than a dog or cat? Wild or exotic pets are not a new concept. In fact, they make fascinating companions, each with their own personality and quirks, bringing a touch of the wild into your home.

Some human-friendly animals you can keep as pets include Fennec Foxes, Hedgehogs, Pythons, Toucans, Otters, and a few reptiles, but remember, owning an exotic pet is a significant commitment and may require more care and expenses.

Before you bring home a fennec fox or a chatty toucan, it is crucial to understand their nature and needs, legal restrictions, and the daily care involved.

This article explores five exotic animals that can thrive in a domestic setting, along with essential information on their care routine and legal ownership in the United States.

Understanding Exotic Animals

Exotic pets are not traditionally domesticated animals, meaning they have not been bred in captivity for generations to be human companions.

However, they are procreated to be less wild and frantic than in the jungles.

For instance, pygmy hedgehogs and chinchillas have unique traits in appearance and behavior compared to their wild relatives; still, they are territorial.

Lizards, turtles, toads, pythons, hedgehogs, geckos, parrots, toucans, crabs, and many others can be kept as exotic pets in your home.

But, it is crucial to remember that exotic animals are not cuddly toys. They have complex needs and a long life span.

Five Exotic Animals You Can Keep As Pets

Here is the list of the five exotic pets, along with their care routines.

1. Fennec Fox

Fennex Foxes, scientifically known as Vulpes zerda, are adorable creatures with playful personalities. These adorable nocturnal desert dwellers are small, weighing no more than three pounds, and have oversized ears.

These miniature foxes are inquisitive creatures.

One striking feature of fennec foxes is their wool-paddled paws, which protect their feet against hot sand in their natural habitat.

However, they are very territorial and difficult to house-train. Some states make it illegal to own a fennec fox.

How to Care for Fennec Fox

1. You need a larger but enclosed space in your home for the fox to play in, and the temperature should be at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. If you plan to cage the canine, ensure to create a spacious cage with plenty of toys and accessories and let it out frequently.

3. Any holes or spaces where your fennec can squeeze should be fixed and looked after regularly.

4. Feed your fox twice daily in small portions, as overfeeding can cause health issues.

5. You can provide a mix of Blue Buffalo cat food, chicks, eggs (raw or boiled), fruits like apples and bananas, crickets, mice, and raw meat. Make sure you do not feed chocolates or artificial sweeteners.

6. These foxes shed; therefore, you need to groom them regularly. They only require a bath occasionally.

7. Fennecs are very vocal, social, alert, attentive, and active, so you need to monitor their activities without producing loud noises.

8. Although cute and playful, these little babies do not like being carried and stroked.

9. Plus, odors like air fresheners, candles, cleaning chemicals, and sprays are intolerable to these miniatures and might lead to health problems.

10. Special care should be given to the foxes in winter, as they are desert animals and cannot tolerate coldness.

11. They need routine checkups and vaccinations to stay healthy.

Overall, fennec foxes are attention-seeking pets and full of energy, ready to react to minor disturbances. Since they are most active at night, be prepared for nocturnal activity in your house.

Saying that, you must research the fennec fox you are thinking of adopting and see whether it fits your lifestyle.

2. Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are common, and the most common species people keep as pets is the African Pygmy Hedgehog. They are small, endearing, covered in quills, and active at night.

These nocturnal creatures are solitary by nature, shy around humans, and prefer a quiet environment.

Then again, they have low maintenance needs with a meager but regular diet of insects or fruits.

A suitable habitat for a hedgehog includes a spacious cage with bedding, a wheel for exercise, and hiding places.

Besides, if you adopt a hedgehog from a young age, they tend to socialize, play, and climb around your body.

How to Care for Hedgehogs

1. Hedgehogs require larger enclosures because they explore nature, and a wheel for exercise is an absolute must.

2. The cage should have a sleeping space and a place to hide because of their shy nature.

3. They live on worms, crickets, boiled eggs, and fresh fruits like bananas and berries at certain lapses of time.

4. Even though they look after their cleanliness, you must provide regular baths to wash out old furs.

5. These cuddly beings have sharp quills made from keratin on their back, so you need to handle them properly before holding them.

6. Also, keep flavored incense or other chemical-cleaning odors away from hedgehogs. They may react to new scents in a more threatened way.

7. You must also prevent these roamers from running around the kitchen and dining tables, as they may spread germs in your food.

A note of caution to potential hedgehog owners: Most hedgehogs carry Salmonella, an intestinal infection. As such, hedgehogs are not a good idea for families with kids under five, seniors, or people with weak immune systems.

Nonetheless, they are fun and require less effort to keep around as pets. But do not forget, despite their smaller size, they require exertion, a nutrient diet, and regular veterinary care.

 3. Python

Snakes, particularly pythons, are popular exotic pets in America due to their striking beauty and relatively calm demeanor.

They can grow to an enormous size and live long lives, requiring a spacious, secure enclosure with proper heating and humidity levels to mimic their natural habitat.

However, they make unsuitable pets for novice reptile keepers as they need specialized care and an appropriate diet.

Furthermore, if children and the elderly are present in the family, these slithers should be monitored closely.

How to Care for Pythons

1. You need to have a commodious home for the pythons to grow and freely roam.

2. If you plan to cage the reptile, ensure to bring a spacious cage with proper lighting and places for it to hide as well as stretch out fully.

3. Set up a thermogradient with a lamp at one end to create a warm area called the 'basking zone' and keep the other end cool. The warm spot should be between 86 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cool end should be between 75 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Check temperatures every day using digital thermometers at both ends.

4. Holes and squeezing gaps should be covered so that the snake does not hide and attack anyone as they do in the wild.

5. They have a habit of warding off in search of food, so provide them with a variety of defrosted or fresh mice and rats looking after their size.

6. They often bite when hungry or grabbed from behind, so consult a veterinarian for a food schedule according to the python breed and growth. Further, if your snake stops eating for more than 20 days, immediately consult your vet.

7. Pythons can become quite docile if you handle them carefully. So gently lift them with one hand near the head and the other near the tail. Never grab or hold them for more than 15 minutes, as well as do not caress them until 48 hours after feeding, during shedding or after handling prey.

8. While cleaning the snake, keep in mind not to grab them or be aggressive toward them. Also, remember their eating and shedding time before handling them for tidiness.

9. Other pets and small animals should not be kept in the same surroundings as pythons since they are natural predators and might injure or eat other pets.

10. Plus, pythons can feel insecure in busy environments and can be depressed if not provided proper attention. Therefore, keep in touch with your veterinarian regularly and keep an eye on your pet too.

Keeping pythons as pets is a challenging desire because they require a well-maintained place to live as their natural habitat, proper nourishment, and close supervision of their behavior. 

What’s more, purchasing and caring for a python can be quite expensive. For these reasons, before adopting Python, evaluate your situation and maintenance cautiously and thoroughly. 

4. Toucan

Not only reptiles and mammals, birds also qualify for exotic pets. And presently, Toucan, long-beaked colorful birds, are gaining popularity in the US.

These vibrantly colored birds with oversized beaks are undeniably enchanting. Besides that, their intelligence and social nature make them demanding companions.

In addition, they are very vocal birds and produce a few sounds when hungry or when they see other animals nearby.

Watch out for these birds because they might get aggressive around smaller birds and predators. Sometimes, they even attack and eat smaller species, such as canaries and finches.

How to Care for Toucans

1. To keep a toucan, you must have a broad and extensive caged space with many-branched trees. They need ample flying and playing areas to maintain a healthy life.

2. Toucans are dynamic and social birds, so they require a lot of stimulation and interaction from you.

3. They wake up early in the morning so be sure to greet them with their snacks at the time.

4. Once they are awake and jumping around, clean their living nests and surrounding regions.

5. Also, keep bowls or buckets filled with water for the toucans to bathe in every now and then.

6. These colorful birds love fruits and nuts, so provide them with berries, grapes, etc., moment-to-moment.

7. Unless you adopted them from a tender age, refrain from petting and stroking since they might feel threatened and bite you.

8. They might attack species of lesser size, hence, do not let other animals or birds near the toucans.

Purchasing and maintaining their veterinarian check-ups is costly. Keeping up with the toucans, as they are highly energetic, is another challenge.

Therefore, before getting a toucan as a pet, make sure to do your research and talk to experts. Since keeping toucans as pets is relatively new, there is not much information available about how to take care of them.

5. Otter

Otters, or Eurasian Otters, are playful and social animals that can form strong bonds with their human caregivers.

They are semi-aquatic mammals requiring a large outdoor enclosure with access to water for regular swimming.

These cuddly creatures have short legs and a long, narrow body with a flattened head, all adapted for streamlined movement in the water.

Besides that, they have thick, protective fur to keep them warm in cold waters and padded legs for faster swimming. Also, they have an extended, strong tail that can be used as a propeller in water.

How to Care for Hedgehogs

1. You need a wide playing area with a broad swimming pool for otters to play and swim around.

2. If you are thinking of keeping several otters, it is best to pair them with the same sex, i.e., two males or two females. Family groups or several otters should not be kept in similar enclosures.

3. Playful items like balls, logs, log piles, or drifting rafts can be important activity centers for captive otters.

4. In the wild, they eat 10% to 15% of their body weight, so you must provide at most three meals daily to maintain a healthy weight, not including enrichment feedings.

5. Their favorite prey is fish, but their diet can consist of frogs, small mammals, insects, eggs, crustaceans, and little aquatic birds.

6. Whether a baby or an adult, otters have thick fur, hence needing everyday grooming and tidiness. They must also be dried with clean towels during the winter season to prevent coldness.

7. Further, the entire living area must be cleaned once in a while to remove otters' scents and spraints. Be careful: Because scents are important to otters, the sprainting locations and marking spots should not be disinfected regularly.

8. Catching otters using your hands is strictly prohibited, as they are too quick and can inflict injury. Even cubs need to be approached with care.

9. These furry mammals should be constantly monitored. They play around and can cause property damage, and they may also escape through minor gaps.

Acquiring otters may not be costly, but caring for them can tackle you. They require ample living and playing regions, different kinds of well-timed diets, and adequate attention, which may not be everybody’s cup of tea.

Therefore, review your statistics carefully and do thorough research before you decide to bring some floaters as exotic pets.

Permissions for Keeping Exotic Pets

While the United States Department of Agriculture enforces the Animal Welfare Act and regulates the import of exotic animals, the regulation of ownership of animals or exotic pets falls to state, tribal, and local governments.

Each state has its own regulations for the protection, purchase, and ownership of exotic and wild animals. Moreover, exotic pet laws change constantly, and the animals that are legal in your state do not necessarily mean they are allowed in your city or neighboring communities.

For example, in New York, you do not require a permit to keep a Fennec Fox as an exotic pet. However, you do need to inform the local authorities about the animal you are keeping and its health standards.

Local authorities place statues to protect endangered animals and native dwellers in order to preserve the ecosystem.

Thus, you must contact your local government and ask for details about which wild species are allowed as pets and what the necessary conditions are.

Wrapping Up

Owning an exotic pet is not just about having a unique conversation starter; it is about providing a loving and responsible home for an animal with complex needs.

They require specialized care and attention to thrive in captivity, as well as a commitment that can last for decades.

Contrarily, if you are prepared to dedicate the time, resources, and research required, exotic pets can be incredibly rewarding mates and can bring joy and wonder into your life.

Furthermore, if you need pet care, consultation, or veterinarian services, contact Urban Pet Hospital, the best pet hospital in Des Moines.

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