There is a trend in the U.S. to keep exotic animals as pets. In particular, videos of cute interactions between exotic animals and humans circulated on social media suggest that exotic species make fantastic pets. The result is a flourishing and, unfortunately, often illegal trade in animals, threatening species’ survival in the wild.

Exotic pets

Exotic pets are a broad field: from monkeys to dwarf bearded dragons; they include everything that otherwise lives in tropical regions and is somewhat unusual as a pet. We show which animals are suitable and which you’d leave in the wild.

Dogs, cats and rabbits were yesterday: the pet trend is increasingly moving toward exotic pets. A bearded dragon or a gecko can also be great pets; after all, they are peaceful and quiet and don’t do much work.

Some snake species or very unusual pets like monkeys or flying foxes, on the other hand, can not only be dangerous for the owner but keeping them in the living room is also simply not appropriate for the species.

Exotic pets: These are the animals you should stay away from

There are often inadequate regulations for keeping exotic pets. Although there is an obligation to register specially protected animals under species protection law, experts assume that only one in ten animals is registered.

Due to the lack of registration, tracking how many exotic pets are kept in private households is hardly possible. Reptiles and insects are less problematic in this field than mammals.

Sure, the idea of having a cute little monkey romp around the living room, playing and cuddling with it, is tempting enough.

But on closer inspection, it quickly becomes apparent that keeping wild exotic animals in a species-appropriate manner is not possible in many cases – unless you can provide a monkey with several hectares of land that you set up and secure in a way that is suitable for monkeys.

In addition, monkeys need company, so you would have to buy several monkeys! A monkey, a desert fox, a big cat or a bat-eared fox are simply not suitable pets.

Exotic pets: reptiles, amphibians and insects can be suitable.

In contrast to monkeys and exotic rodents, various reptiles, amphibians, or insects are more suitable pets. The precondition is that you are sufficiently informed about the appropriate keeping of these animals and that you can provide them with an approximately species-appropriate habitat.

You can buy these exotic animals legally in a pet shop and get advice on keeping them. Suitable are, for example:

  • Bearded dragons
  • Geckos
  • Turtles
  • Axolotl
  • Chameleons
  • Giant beetles
  • Tarantulas
  • Walking leaf

If you are considering getting a reptile or insect, it’s best to go to a pet store and get professional advice. In a conversation about your living situation, financial situation, spare time and personal preferences, you can find out which exotic pet suits you! We also provided a List of the ten most popular exotic Pets.

Keeping reptiles or insects as exotic pets can have some advantages but, of course, also disadvantages. The most important points at a glance:

  • do not make much work
  • are quiet
  • do not damage furniture
  • suitable for allergy sufferers
  • not suitable for cuddling
  • are often nocturnal
  • sometimes alive insects have to be fed

Exotic pets make you a social media star?

Some people just like it fancy- because that attracts attention! They see their exotic roommate as an opportunity to become famous.

Like the Russian couple, Masha and Sasha, for example, fell in love with the puma Messi during a visit to the zoo, which they then bought. The tamed animal has lived in their home ever since.

Via their YouTube channel and Instagram account, the couple shows their life with the puma – and very successfully, too: over 1 million people follow the exotic “love” triangle on Instagram.

The channel is undoubtedly fascinating, but species-appropriate husbandry looks different.

What you should know about exotic Pets!

Exotics can become a danger to humans.

There are a variety of animal species – including various big cats, large reptiles, bears, and primates, which can pose a significant danger to the life of humans.

This applies, in particular, to animals kept improperly because stressed and sick animals always pose an increased risk to humans. Whether through physical defense reactions or zoonoses. Bad zoonoses in recent years include salmonella, bird flu, SARS, Ebola, and possibly the coronavirus.

There is often a lack of expertise in keeping exotic animal species.

Basic technical knowledge for keeping exotic animal species is often unavailable. This can apply to pet owners and the employees of veterinary practices, specialist shops, animal shelters, sanctuaries, animal exchanges and pet shops.

In the case of many animal species, it has yet to be researched in the wild precisely under which conditions this species lives, so it is simply impossible to ensure species-appropriate keeping as pets.

There are not enough specialized veterinarians.

The lack of expertise in exotic animal species also applies to veterinarians. For example, while there are many veterinarians who specialize in cats and dogs, there are fewer who specialize in reptiles and bird species.

In particular, the increasing number of exotic mammals poses problems for veterinarians. Professional veterinary care of exotic animals cannot be carried out appropriately in this way. Certainly one of the reasons why many exotics in pet ownership show signs of illness and die far too young.

There are not enough accommodation options for abandoned animals and confiscated animals.

Housing for abandoned animals, no matter what kind, is a significant and expensive problem for different pet species. State support is only available for traditional animal shelters. Even for large animals such as horses, only a few shelters have to be financed exclusively through donations.

The situation is even worse for exotic animal species. There are only a handful of sanctuaries for exotic pets – that lack the resources to accommodate exotic species on a larger scale.

Due to the lack of control of online trade, illegal trade is very easy.

Animal sales via online platforms such as eBay and Quoka are flourishing. This makes it very easy to acquire even endangered or dangerous species.The sale of animals occurs here mostly without consultation or verification of the buyer.

Exotics can become invasive species.

Non-endemic species threaten native animal and plant species and thus become a problem.Their origin is often found in improper husbandry and housing of animals. As a result, they are abandoned or escape from improperly designed enclosures.

Due to the lack of registration of the animals, the original keepers can usually not be identified. In the best case, an abandoned or escaped single animal dies miserably.

The consequences, however, are often expensive trapping campaigns or, in the worst case for native flora and fauna: the emergence of another invasive species, which in turn entails corresponding costs for regulation and causes lasting damage to nature.


Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.


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