Attention animal lovers: we have good news for anyone looking for ideas on exotic pets. The options for an animal companion are far more extensive than they used to be. In other words, if you’re in the market for a furry (or slime-y/spike-y/scale-y) friend, there’s a pet for you. According to a recent article on CNBC, dog sad cats are still the most popular pet choices, but “19.4 million U.S. households owned exotics in 2013, according to the American Pet Products Association.” What exactly is an exotic pet, you might ask? “The term “exotic pet” is loosely defined as anything but cats, dogs, fish or horses. For veterinarians, the category generally consists of reptiles and amphibians, birds and small mammals.”
There are certainly some concerns that come along with owning an exotic pet; for example, some animals require special care, a specialized diet, and a knowledgeable owner who is trained to handle the behavior of those unique animals. On the flip side, exotic pets offer benefits as well. Some can require less responsibility and care (which is great for a first pet and for children), they can be great if you have allergies to pet hair, and they may be more suited for small living spaces. At the end of the day, whatever pet you choose should be right for your life and your family, and you should do your research to make sure you are selecting an animal that you can properly care for and love for many years to come. And to get you started, here are 8 new types of exotic pets that you can call your own.
1. Bearded Dragon
Don’t be fooled by the scary-sounding name, these reptiles make great pets because they alert but tame. Bearded dragons live for about 6-10 years on average, and they can grow to be about 2 feet long. These cool pets are often docile and happily allow their owners to handle them, and they are really fun to watch as sometimes they even “wave” to spectators.
Read Related: Why Pets Are Great for Kids
2. Potbellied Pig
Pigs can often get the reputation of being dirty, smelly and lazy, but the truth is that potbellied pigs are adorable and can make amazing pets. They are very intelligent, affectionate, playful and they are actually odor free. These domesticated pigs are a great pet choice if you want something furry, but hypoallergenic. While they can weigh a lot when they are full-grown (we’re talking 100-250 pounds), they are much more compact than a dog of the same weight. Pigs can happily live indoors, just make sure they get regular long walks or play time outside.
3. Prairie Dog
If you love dogs, but you want a pet that is more exotic than a typical canine companion, a prairie dog might be for you. These animals aren’t actually dogs at all, they are small rodents that grow to be about 2 pounds and life for anywhere from 10-12 years. Generally speaking these animals are affectionate, social and intelligent.
Who says that Shrek should be the only creature to have a pet donkey? Similar to having a horse as a pet, miniature donkeys make great companions too. These animals can weigh between 200 and 350 pounds, so they’re not exactly small, but they are great with children and very affectionate with their owners. That said, because of their size and the fact that they aren’t solitary animals (so ideally you’ll have more than one donkey), these pets are really good for people with a large outdoor space for the donkeys to roam.
If you’ve ever heard of a capybara, then it’s about time you become familiar with the world’s largest rodent. These animals look like giant rats (but cuter), and while they are related to guinea pigs, they are much bigger and can weigh up to about 100 pounds. And it’s important to note that these pets aren’t for everyone. They require a lot of work and attention and a very specialized environment and diet, so if you’re looking for a pet that comes with minimal responsibility, this animal is not for you.
These might be one of the cutest animals on the list, mostly because of their furry coat, cute size and amazingly adorable oversized ears. Chinchillas are cute little rodents that make wonderful pets and are great with young children. They can be very loving and grow very attached to their owner, so prepare for lots of attention and lots of snuggling, though we don’t think that will be much of a challenge.
7. Pygmy Goat
You might not think you want a goat in your house, but then again, you’ve probably never seen a pygmy goat. These adorable goats are small in size, weighing up to 75 pounds at full maturity, and they are very easy to handle. They don’t jump, they have a docile, sweet temperament, and they are small—you can even transport a pygmy goat in a dog carrier.
Sure, hedgehogs are prickly, so you won’t exactly want to snuggle with them in your bed, but they are also really cute and make terrific companions. They are low-maintenance, and gentle, despite their prickly exterior. It’s also important to note that hedgehogs are active at night and they sleep a lot during the day, which makes them easy to handle during daytime hours, but you’ll need to be prepared to give a little one-on-one time at night.