An Overview of Exotic Animals as Pets

pet hedgehog in a cage

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What Is an Exotic Pet?

You may hear the phrase "exotic pets" and think many different things when someone says they like them. You may think of monkeys and tigers, or just birds and rabbits, or perhaps raccoons and ferrets. But if you are confused as to what is considered an exotic pet, you aren't alone. There is a large amount of variation in how exotic pets are defined.

Typically anything that isn't a dog, cat, or domesticated farm animal like a cow or horse is considered exotic. Some governments have a different definition of exotic. Governments may consider as an exotic animal anything that isn't native to the region, or isn't a dog, cat, fish, or other animal that is typically thought of or widely agreed to be domesticated. But again, this isn't a black and white answer.

How Can I Tell If Exotic Pets Are Legal Where I Live?

If you are trying to figure out whether or not exotic pets are legal to keep where you live, check with your state or local government. If you have any doubt, call up the appropriate office and ask. Each state considers different animals to be exotic pets. Even if an animal is exotic, keeping them as pets may be permissible under the law if certain requirements are met. It all depends on the specific laws. Some states prohibit ferrets, some only permit native species, and some are very specific as to what kinds of exotic animals are not allowed as pets.

What Do Vets Consider to Be Exotic Pets?

If it isn't a farm animal, dog, or cat, your vet probably considers it to be an exotic pet. Additionally, your vet may not consider pocket pets to be included under the umbrella of exotic pets. The phrase "pocket pets" is generally used to describe your hamster, rat, mouse, ferret, rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla, or other common pet shop pet.