6 Outrageous Animals People Keep as Pets


When you’re looking for a new animal companion, chances are that you’re thinking of a dog, cat, or maybe a fish. But not everyone is satisfied with common pets. Rather, many prospective pet parents have an eye for the exotic, the wild, and, in some cases, dangerous. Click through to read about some amazing animals that are kept as pets — and really, really shouldn’t be.

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1. Skunks

You probably associate skunks most with the foul odor they can sometimes give off. And who wants such a stinky pet?! Well, prospective skunk parents need not worry;†most skunks sold in the United States and Canada have those scent glands surgically removed. Though skunks are intelligent, curious and can even be house-trained, major drawbacks include a very tricky diet, difficulty in accessing quality veterinary care, and the possibility of the skunk getting rabies. When it comes down to it, not enough is known about the proper care for skunks to make them a good option for a pet.

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2. Sloths

These adorable critters sure seem like ideal pets –†cuddly, sweet playful and, well, tame. And, to an extent, that’s certainly true – they’re obviously not the fastest or meanest animals around, and despite the stereotype, they’re actually quite clean. But, actually living with a sloth? Well, that’s a different story. Aside from the legal and insurance headaches involved in keeping an exotic animal, sloths have a very strict diet that’s difficult to replicate outside of their native habitat. Their main source of food is usually only available to zookeepers, and human companions also need to scrounge for insects to supplement their diet. Also at issue? Well, sloths spend almost all of their lives in the trees of the Costa Rican rainforest, so they need a tree inside the home, or something closely resembling a tree.

Related: Test Your Sloth Knowledge (Quiz!)

3. Tigers & Other Big Cats

Lions, tigers, leopards, oh no! They may be cute and cuddly as babies, but big cats grow up to be, well, big. Big and aggressive, powerful, and unpredictable. As outrageous and ridiculous as it sounds, though, big cats as pets is not as uncommon as you might think — it’s thought that there are about 10,000 tigers kept as private pets in the United States alone. That’s far more than are kept in zoos, sanctuaries, or even in the wild. As the wonderful folks at Big Cat Rescue explain:

“Pound for pound, big cats are 12 times stronger than a man, so when they have contact with people, even in play, the results are often tragic. Big cats grow fast and quickly become the hard wired killers they were designed to be. After the novelty of owning a big cat wears off and you no longer want it, nobody will take your big cat. Youíll be left with an animal you canít get rid of that costs you thousands of dollars each year to properly maintain.”

Earlier: 8 Fierce Animals as Adorable Babies

4. Capybaras

Don’t be fooled by the photo — capybaras, a relative of the guinea pig, can grow up to 4 1/2 feet tall, and weigh upwards of 100 pounds. That’s a big rodent — the biggest rodent species in the world, in fact. So, like their relatives, do they make good pets? Well, they’re surprisingly better pets than most of the animals on the list. They’re gentle and don’t mind human touch. Their diet is manageable and inexpensive. They easily adapt to climates outside of their native South America.

But don’t find your own just yet. They’re still wild animals, and they still deserve a life outside and out of a cage. They’re also illegal to own in many parts of the country.

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5. Hippopotami

One South African man’s death at the hands of his beloved pet hippo hit the headlines across the globe last year. The man’s death was certainly tragic, but it also serves as an important reminder of the dangers of keeping a wild animal as a pet. Another major issue is that, if hippos are raised from birth in captivity, it is very, very difficult to successfully reintroduce them into the wild.

See Also:†8 Incredible Colorful Birds (Slideshow)

6. Alligators

Uncuddly, potentially dangerous, live insect eaters aren’t the first descriptors that come to mind when most people describe their ideal pet. After all, the majority of us probably don’t want an animal that you’re obligated to tell anyone within one mile of your home about. Alligators also require special lighting, tanks, food and temperature. That, on top of the fact that they are illegal in most places, makes the alligator a particularly ridiculous animal to keep as a pet.

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Cecilia Durham
Past Member 2 years ago

awesome job

Cecilia Durham
Past Member 2 years ago

very nice

Natalie Vyhnankova

Wild animals belong in wild. I am for keeping them as pet only if they are sick or something and they can't survive more in nature.

Yuliya Dalbunova
Yuliya Dalbunova4 years ago

Thank you

Melissa S.
Melissa S.4 years ago

"But don’t find your own just yet. They’re still wild animals, and they still deserve a life outside and out of a cage."

What a stupid, stupid, article. So does that mean 'domesticated' animals 'deserve' to live in a cage? Wild or not, all they need is proper care. Enough with the religious, dogmatic nonsense of all non-domesticated animals 'deserving' to live free.

Karen G4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nicole D.
Nicole D4 years ago

Ok, pet skunks are super tame and comparable to cats. People who keep them don't just pick one up off the street, they get one from a breeder. They even have different coat colors, just like cats and dogs. They're not for everyone, but skunks aren't a terrible pet.

Sloths are difficult. I volunteer at a zoo and we have a sloth there named Sid. He requires a very specific cage and diet, and also only pees once every couple of months so when he does its TERRIBLE! They're also pretty hard to come by.

Big cats make bad pets for most people, but some people do care about them and can keep them properly. This is why there should be regulation on big cats so that some idiot can't just go and buy one. Also, Big Cat Rescue is a bad organisation. Most of the animals they have were either bought or bred by Baskin, but she makes up false back stories to get money. ASA and AZA won't accredit her because she doesn't meet their standards. Do some research, it's bad.

Lastly, any animal that require a large water habitat is just really hard to care for. Hippos are huge and super rare, capybaras aren't too common, but alligators are kept. If the owner can provide a big enough cage, then capys and alligators can make good pets. Again, there should be regulation, but they're happy in captivity if cared for correctly.

Carole R.
Carole R4 years ago

Thanks for the post. Cute pix.

Helga Balague

they are salvage, they are not a pet...
GO shelter and save some dog's or cat's... you will spend less money and you be save.

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

Totally agree..... Having these type of pets should be illegal everywhere.