While many exotic animals are terrifying (I’m looking at you, anaconda), some are extremely cute and can’t be matched in cuteness by traditional pets like dogs or cats.
Unfortunately, many exotic animals are illegal to own as pets, because most of them are supplied by illegal animal traffickers who are hurting native populations of precious animals.
However, there are some amazing options that you can legally own in many U.S. states.
This is Wild and Domestic, and today we will meet 10 cute exotic animals that you can have as pets!
10. Sugar Glider
The sugar glider is a small, nocturnal marsupial that originates from Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea.
They are arboreal creatures, meaning they live in trees, and are able to glide long distances through the air thanks to the membrane connecting their front and back legs, called patagia.
There are several subspecies that differ in color and size, but most commonly sugar gliders are about 12 inches (30 cm) long when including the tail, which makes up half of their length.
Although they’re wild animals, sugar gliders can make great pets for the right person, they’re playful and social creatures that bond well with their human companions.
Keep in mind though that sugar gliders require a lot of care and attention, as well as a special diet consisting of insects (live or frozen) and fruits.
They’re legal in every U.S. state except Alaska, California, and Hawaii.
The capybara is the largest extant rodent species and is native to Latin America.
They can weigh up to 145lb (66 kg) and have a length of 4.4ft (134 cm), so you should think twice about owning one because it can do some serious damage around your house.
Additionally, capybaras are very social creatures and in the wild live in groups of 10 to 20 individuals.
However, during the dry season, their group size can increase to 100 or even more capybaras when they are gathering around scarce water sources.
As a result, you should really consider getting two or more capybaras, because a single capybara won’t be happy and healthy if its social needs aren’t met.
That being said, they can be great pets due to their calm and cool nature.
The main concern about owning one is having enough space in your backyard. Ideally, with some sort of water source for it to hydrate and chill in peace.
You can legally own them in Texas, Pennsylvania, and parts of New York, and there are several other states which require special permits.
8. Bearded Dragon
Despite the intimidating name, bearded dragons arguably are some of the cutest reptilians.
They get their name from the spiny “beard” of skin on their chin, which they can puff out to make themselves look bigger when threatened.
This species originated in the arid climate of Australia, so it’s resilient to the elements of nature, making it a good option for beginner lizard owners.
However, they can live up to 10 years, and grow up to 24 inches (60cm) long, so you really need to be committed before adopting them.
Bearded dragons require a terrarium with a volume of at least 40 gallons (150l), and special additional equipment like a thermometer, hygrometer, and UVB heat source.
But… such requirements are nothing compared to just how cool these lizards are!
They are legal to own in several states including Alabama, Idaho, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and require a special license in others.
The only state that has banned bearded dragons as pets in Hawaii.
7. Fennec Fox
The fennec fox is the smallest fox species in the world, weighing just between 2.2 and 3.3lb (1-1.5kg) with a body length ranging from 10 to 16 inches (25-40cm).
It’s native to the extreme environment of the Sahara Desert, which made them evolve their large ears which help them thermoregulate and avoid overheating.
Without being one of the cutest animals ever, they are playful and social animals that are willing to bond with their owners.
However, they require a lot of care and attention, as well as a special diet, so it’s important to do your research before bringing one home.
In the wild, fennec foxes are opportunistic feeders, and prey on small rodents, lizards, and even insects, but also don’t pass on eggs and plants.
You can have this animal as a pet in most U.S. states after getting the right permits, but there are several states where you can own it without doing any paperwork, including Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, and North Carolina.
6. Chilean Rose Tarantula
While a tarantula is probably one of the last animals you imagine when hearing the word “cute”, the Chilean rose tarantula is an exception. Its name is inspired by the pink-hued hairs on its body, and well, pink is the cutest color!
If you’re thinking of getting a tarantula, this is one of the best options to consider, because they’re relatively easy to take care of.
They’re not that big, females having a leg span of 5 inches (13cm) and males just 3.5 inches (9cm), so you’d need a terrarium with a volume of at least 5 gallons (19l), but a 10-gallon (38l) one would be more ideal.
They’re legal to own in most states of the U.S. and other parts of the world.
5. Leopard Gecko
Here we have a second lizard on the list. This time it’s the leopard gecko from Central and Southeast Asia.
They are nocturnal creatures that are well-adapted to life in the desert, with thick scales that protect them from the hot sand and intense sun rays.
They grow up to 10 inches long (25cm) and live between 10 and 20 years.
Leopard geckos can be a great option for a cute exotic pet because they’re easy to take care of can doesn’t shy away from being touched.
Keep in mind that it’s best to feed them a varied diet consisting of silkworms, mealworms, super worms, waxworms, and roaches, so be prepared to handle some nasty insects.
Finally, leopard geckos are legal in every U.S. state except Hawaii.
4. African Pygmy Hedgehog
If you’re a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, this entry is just for you
African pygmy hedgehogs are small creatures that inhabit the steppes and savannas of East, West, and Central Africa.
When talking about animals, the word “pygmy” means smaller than other species of the group, and this one is the smallest hedgehog in the world.
African pygmy hedgehogs grow up to 12 inches (30cm) long, but some are as little as 5 inches (13cm)!
Naturally, their diet consisting of insects like mealworms and crickets isn’t going to empty your pockets.
They’re legal to own in most U.S. states except California, Georgia, Hawaii, New York City, and a few others.
Now this one might be the most uniquely cute animal on this list.
The axolotl is an aquatic salamander that is endemic to just Lake Xochimilco in the Valley of Mexico.
Endemic species means that you can’t find them permanently living in other parts of the world.
As cute as they look, don’t allow their cheeky smiles to trick you into thinking they’re herbivorous and will enjoy eating grapes off your hands.
No – axolotls are fierce opportunistic predators that prey on basically everything that’s smaller than them.
Talking about size, they can grow up to 18 inches (45cm) long, but usually are just about 9 inches in length.
Finally, they live for 10 to 15 years and are legal to own in most states of the U.S.
Serval is a species of wild cat native to Africa, and it’s basically the closest thing to a tiger that you can own as a pet.
While a tiger is twice as tall, because serval stands about 22 inches at shoulder height,
they’re a much more affordable option if you want to own an exotic cat, and are legal in 16 U.S states.
While they’re legal, they’re not domesticated, so don’t expect lovey-dovey cuddling sessions as you would from a house cat.
Servals have every single hunting and predatory instinct ingrained in their DNA, and it can be an extremely challenging pet to own.
If you’re considering getting one, make sure you have enough time and space to allocate for its exercise.
As crazy as it might sound, you can legally have a chimp as a pet! Albeit in just 4 states: Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, and Texas.
If you’re crazy enough to consider it as a pet, you should keep in mind a couple of things, that hopefully will change your mind about buying a chimp.
First of all, they’re extremely strong and can pretty much tear you apart with bare hands.
If that’s not good of a reason, then don’t forget that chimps are one of the most intelligent animals in the world, and can not only use rudimentary tools but also learn and mimic others.
So a chimpanzee, as cute as it looks, is basically a deranged psycho that can dramatically alter the life of its owner. Are you still up for getting one?
Which of these 10 cute exotic animals you’d want to own the most?
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