18 Rare Pets to Own

Edited by Kathy McGraw

From tiny primates to impressive wildcats, exotic and rare pets offers a challenging experience for pet owners who want something a little different from the ordinary domestic cat and dog. However, exotics can be expensive to get and maintain, and some require the purchase of special permits from the local government agency that regulates the trade and sale of such animals in the state where the owner lives. Some can also be quite challenging to own, as they are still wild animals, with strong instincts and behaviors.

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    Sugar glider
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    Sugar gliders are marsupials that are native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. They get their name from the fact that eat nectar and sap from plants and trees and have a flap of skin between their wrists and ankles that they use to glide between trees in the wild. These cute and intelligent little creatures make great pets as long as you take the time to bond with them when they are young, It is also best to get more than one since in the wild they live colonies and don't do well if left alone.
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    Serval
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    The Serval is an African cat that hails from the grasslands south of the Sahara Desert. It is a sleek, beautiful cat that can live up to 20 years and reach up to 50 pounds when fully grown. Servals can be trained to walk on a leash like a dog. If you get a serval, you should have an enclosure for it that is large enough for it to hunt and play. You may also need to get a permit to own one; check with the laws in your state before getting one.
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    Bearded Dragon
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    The Bearded Dragon is a reptile that is native to Australia. It became a popular pet in the United States during the 1990's and is now found in many pet stores across the country. Bearded dragons make wonderful pets because they are easy to care for and are not aggressive. They are affectionate and love to be stroked and held.
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    Capybara
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    The Capybara is a large rodent from South America. It is considered to be the largest rodent in the world, with some weighing in at 100 pounds when fully grown. If you get a capybara, you will need a water source nearby, such as a pond or swimming pool as it is a semi-aquatic animal. Before you get one as a pet, make sure that you find a vet nearby that is familiar with treating these exotic animals.
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    Spotted Genet
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    The Spotted Genet is a cute little creature that hails from Africa. It looks like a weird ferret-cat-racoon thing and is independent and strong-willed. It does best in households where it is the only pet. Be sure to check the laws in your state regarding ownership of this exotic animal before getting one.
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    Pygmy Marmoset (aka the Finger Monkey)
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    The Pygmy Marmoset is the world's smallest primate, typically weight less than 100 grams when fully grown. These tiny creatures are native to the rainforests of South America and have grown in popularity in recent years as pets. If you are going to get one as a pet, it is advisable to get at least two, as they are social creatures and need the company of others to thrive. As with all exotic animals, you should check the laws in your state before getting one to make sure that they are legal to own where you live.
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    Fennec Fox
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    Fennec foxes come from the Northern African desert. They are the smallest of the canids, (the dog family), and make great pets because they are sociable and can be trained to use a litterbox like a cat.
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    Skunk
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    Skunks that are kept as pets have their scent glands removed when they are four weeks old, so there is no worry about getting sprayed with that familiar and odoriferous eye-water scent. Intelligent and affectionate if handled a lot when young, skunks make surprisingly loving companions. They can be litterbox-trained, just like cats, and eat a diet of vegetable and dry kibble. Because they are considered vermin in some states, skunks are not legal to own everywhere, so check your state's laws before deciding if a pet skunk is right for you.
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  9. 9
    Hedgehog
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    Hedgehogs make wonderful companions who love to cuddle and play with their owners. They are nocturnal, so expect them to be most active during the night, so be prepared to spend time with it during the evenings and nighttime. Hedgehogs may not be legal to own everywhere, so be sure to check the laws in your state before you get one.
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  10. 10
    Hyacinth Macaw
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    This large parrot makes a wonderful pet if trained from a young age not to bite. That's because this macaw's beak is capable of cutting through metal. It is the second largest parrot in the world and is currently on the Endangered Species list because of the overzealous pet trade.
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  11. 11
    Wallaby
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    Native to Australia, the Wallaby is like a small version of a kangaroo. It is a marsupial, so that means it gestates its young partially in its pouch after birth. They can weigh up to 50 pounds and are best suited as pets for people with enough land for them to roam.
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    Asian Leopard Cat
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    Asian leopard cats are challenging pets to own, as they are still fully wild animals that have not been domesticated through years of breeding to live alongside humans. They make amazing companions; however, as they are intelligent and, like all cats, can be trained to use a litterbox. Since it is a wildcat, you should check your state's laws regarding ownership and whether or not you are required to have a permit.
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    Geoffroy's Cat
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    Geoffroy's cat is a small cat species from South America. It is shy and not as sociable as other cats. Therefore it doesn't make the best house pet if you crave an animal that you can snuggle with. It also only bonds with one or two people, and it can be aggressive with anyone else.
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  14. 14
    Ocelot
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    Very rare to own is this small wildcat from South America. Its beautiful spotted fur and gorgeous eyes make it the center of attention in any home that owns one, but they are challenging pets and not to be taken lightly. They have a distinctive smell and are not as sociable as other cats, such as the Serval or Asian Leopard Cat.
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    Bush baby (Galagos)
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    The Bush Baby is a small tree-dwelling primate from Africa. Like most primates, bush babies require specialized care and are therefore not easy pets to own. In the wild, they live in large family groups, so if you are going to bring a bush baby into your life, consider getting more than one.
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    Kinkajou
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    Kinkajous come from South America and are related to raccoons and ringtail cats. They are nocturnal creatures, so if you get one, prepare to do your interacting with it at night. Also, beware: they are known to carry a type of roundworm that is fatal to humans.
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    Potbellied Pig
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    Cute, cuddly, clean, and intelligent, potbellied pigs love to be the center of attention. You can even train your pig to walk on a leash like a dog. They make good companions for people who can give them the attention and love they crave, but they are not good pets for families with children or other pets.
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    Muntjac Deer
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    Growing the size of a small house cat, muntjac deer are affectionate, and as long as they are provided with an outlet for their habit of chewing things, make decent pets.
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