A pet can be a real asset to family life. But the latest craze is Wild animals. For example, a flying fox on a curtain rod or an otter in a bathtub guarantees thousands of YouTube clicks. Because cuddly cats and hamsters are not exciting enough, some keep more exotic pets, such as snakes or monkeys. But bringing wild animals home is usually not a good idea.

The black market trade in exotic animals is booming. Which animals should not be kept as pets are prohibited, and what requirements must be met? An overview.

Exotic animals must be kept species-appropriate

The natural behavior of many exotic wild animals has yet to be fully explored. We have yet to learn about lifestyle and nutrition. Under these circumstances, species-appropriate husbandry is impossible.

If you don’t know the exact needs, then that is already a reason for exclusion from the attitude. But, apart from that, it is also impossible to offer the animal everything it needs.

Exotic animals can only be kept if they have been sufficiently well researched. If you know the needs exactly, then you have to satisfy them. If this is impossible, such an animal must not be kept.

Legal and illegal trade in exotic animals

There is a legal trade in exotic animals on a large scale. The animals for this often come from breeding in captivity. On the other hand, there is a massive illegal trade in animals that go out of their natural habitat to potential buyers.

This illegal trade poses a massive threat to endangered species. Thousands of the animals caught die within the first year. However, wild animals become pets, and environmentalists and veterinarians warn that most buyers have no idea what it means to care for such an animal. The well-being of the animals, but also the people, is at stake.

Read also: Do Axolotls Live In The Ocean?

Which exotic animals should not be kept as pets?


Tens of thousands of monkeys are trafficked every year. They often have to live in the most appalling conditions to keep up with the demand for marmosets, capuchin monkeys and pygmy marmosets.

According to the British Animal Welfare Group RSPCA

, rescued primates have been found in glass-lined cabinets and aviaries, some with broken or deformed bones from being malnourished or not getting enough sunlight. In addition, monkeys are very expensive and need a lot of attention because, like humans, they would otherwise suffer psychological damage.

When they are adults, the animals often become aggressive and can also transmit diseases such as zoonotic pathogens, monkeypox and herpes B viruses. Whether born in captivity or in the wild, primates are wild animals that should never be kept as pets, no matter how well-intentioned the owner is!

Big Cats

Now, perhaps unsurprisingly, big cats do not make ideal pets. They are aggressive predators and require a fair amount of professional experience. But, perhaps more surprisingly, thousands of wild cats are kept as pets. According to the animal welfare organization WWF, there are more tigers in backyards in the United States than in the wild.

Lax monitoring of captive tigers then also means that many of them are not kept sufficiently securely. This has potentially devastating consequences for humans and tigers alike. In an incident in Ohio, security forces had to shoot 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions after their owners let them out.

According to the WWF, incomplete or missing monitoring of the animals kept in captivity means they can end up on the black market. This, in turn, creates even greater demand and puts wild populations under pressure.


Many people are afraid of snakes. The cold-blooded critters are scary to them. And yet reptiles are popular as pets. At least as long as they don’t grow up.

Once these animals are fully grown, they will blow up their owners’ terrariums and their owners’ imaginations. Then the animals often end up in a desolate state of health at veterinarians. The main reasons for this are improper posture and the wrong diet.

In Florida, released Burmese Pythons (pictured) have become invasive since the 1980s, posing a threat to native wildlife and even humans.

Exotic Birds

In principle, conservationists have no problem with birds being bred in captivity. However, the tomboy should then stop. Unfortunately, however, that is not the case. According to WWF, thousands of birds are still being caught in the wild and sold worldwide.

Many of the particularly sought-after species are already threatened. Often only a few hundred copies exist. The Blue-and-Yellow Macaw (photo) is such an example. The animals are popular. The illegal trade has largely destroyed the stock in nature, says the WWF.

The highly intelligent birds need a lot of attention for a lifetime. They can live up to 60 years.


You can’t go wrong with turtles, can you? They are pretty cute, sluggish and obviously also frugal. But, no, it isn’t. When the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles (Ninja Turtles) were sent to the screens 30 years ago, all children wanted a turtle. But the red-cheeked ornate turtles that were crime fighters on TV and in the movies need a lot of care once they are fully grown.

Turtles live 30 years and do not remain small and cute. Soon after the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles hype, thousands of the ornamental turtles, therefore, ended up on the streets.

In the United Kingdom, for example, the animals triggered a national environmental crisis because the released animals were eating native species and spreading through the ecosystem. Another catch to the story: turtles can carry salmonella.

Great Apes

For Great Apes, the same applies as for their smaller relatives. All large-animal species are listed in Annex 1 to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Animals and Plants (CITES). This list only includes species that are acutely threatened with extinction and must not be traded.

However, this does not stop the illegal trade. For example, there are barely 60,000 orangutans in the wild because they are still being caught, especially as babies. Poachers often kill the mother animals to get to the young.

Because monkeys grow up even slower than other animals, they are tame and cute for longer. Adult apes are challenging to assess and can also become aggressive and attack their owners. Great apes are, therefore, NOT suitable as pets.

Meaning of the Abbreviation CITES

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Animal and Plant Species. We know this agreement under the name: “The Washington Convention for the Protection of Species.”

Animals and plants protected by CITES may not be traded in the USA. Apart from that, however, there are only a few restrictions on which animals may be kept and which are not. Exotic pets are, therefore, widespread. We recommend this article if you want to know which exotic animals are suitable as pets and which are not.

Exotic animals and illegal hunting

Hunting in wild nature indicates that these exotic animals cannot be kept in a species-appropriate manner, and on the other hand, the reason that the animals must be caught.

This also affects many aquarium fish that land as a “wild catch” in domestic aquariums. Since many of the animals die during capture and transport, the wild catch can severely affect a population. But it is not only catching the animals that is a problem; releasing them also affects the ecosystem.

Abandoned exotic animals

Some animals have very high demands on their owners, food procurement is expensive, and heating or cooling needs a lot of energy. In addition, the animals’ size and life expectancy are often underestimated, resulting in many animals being abandoned.

Turtles colonize quarry lakes, and reptiles are released into the forest. For most animals, the cold winter is a death sentence. But dropping them off at the animal shelter is not unproblematic either. The high care costs for the animals are a significant burden for animal protection associations.

Leave exotic animals in natural surroundings

There is only one way to care for some exotic wild animals properly. You have to leave them in their natural environment. Only there, these animals will find everything you need for a healthy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, most exotic animals are not suited to languishing in cages and terrariums that are too narrow.

Domesticated animals, bred as pets for centuries, are well adapted to life alongside humans. Anyone interested in exotic animals should support the preservation of their habitats. Traveling to the natural environment and observing the animals in the wild is far more fascinating than watching them sit in their cage and waste away.

Instead of investing the money in exotic food and cages, you can donate it to projects that benefit the animals.


If you have a heart for animals, you should refrain from keeping one of these exotic pets. On the one hand, only very few owners can ensure species-appropriate housing for their protégés. On the other hand, the looting of game populations is promoted. After all, the demand for exotic animals is now so great that the imported “offspring” are often none at all.

The above-mentioned species are not suitable for private keeping. Many of the formerly cute young animals become large, wild, voracious – and expensive. The owners quickly reach their limits.

Read also: What are the most popular exotic Pets?


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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