10 Worst Animals to Keep as Pets

worst animals to keep as pets illustration

The Spruce / Kaley McKean

Attempting to keep wild animals as pets is never a good idea. Some of these animals can endanger human lives while others simply fail to thrive when removed from their natural habitats. Even when raised in a home from a young age, these animals tend to maintain their wild instincts, making them unpredictable and difficult to manage. Here are 10 animals that do not make good pets.

Tip

If you spot a wild animal in need of help, resist the urge to adopt it as a pet. Instead, contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator to get the animal the care it needs.

  • 01 of 10

    Primates

    Ring-tailed lemur with a baby on its back

    Frans Lanting/Mint Images/Getty Images

    Lemurs, capuchinschimpanzees, and baboons all fall into the primate category. They are cute and childlike, but they also act like babies, permanently, with all the messes and screaming included. The biggest problem with pet monkeys is they are prone to rampages without warning. And as they can possess shocking levels of strength while lacking reason, chances of effectively controlling them are slim. They also might bite their owners, which is especially scary given that they can transmit diseases, such as hepatitis A and HIV-1.

  • 02 of 10

    Big Cats

    Male African lion lying on a rock

    Saibal/Getty Images

    Cougars, lions, tigers, and leopards make up the majority of large cats people opt to keep as pets. They are strong and dangerous to say the least. If you think you can just declaw a cat to make it less of a threat, think again. Declawing removes the entire last bone in each toe, which can cause an animal to walk improperly and result in tremendous pain and nerve damage. Moreover, large cats also kill their prey by biting the throat. If the teeth don’t kill you, their crushing jaw pressure will.

  • 03 of 10

    Venomous Snakes

    Majestic cobra rising out of grass

    CHANDRANUJ/Wikimedia Commons 

    Venomous snakes can kill you with a single bite, and antivenom can be hard to come by. Some cobras also can cause immense pain and blindness just by spitting their venom into your eyes. Thus, extreme safety measures must be taken if venomous snakes are kept in a home. If they do escape, you not only are endangering the lives of your family but also your neighbors. There are plenty of pet snakes available that do not produce venom, so stick with the safer species.

  • 04 of 10

    Bears

    Bear cubs sitting up on hind legs in grass
    W. Drew Senter, Longleaf Photography/Getty Images

    Despite the fact that bears can weigh over 1,500 pounds when fully grown, some people still feel they can be like cute, cuddly pet teddy bears. Yes, bear cubs are adorable, but they don’t stay small for long. They soon will tower over you when standing on their hind legs, and they can knock you over, or even kill you, with a swift blow from a paw. 

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Coatis

    Coati in a forest
    Jessica Peterson/Getty Images

    The coati (pronounced ko-wot-ee and sometimes referred to as coatimundi) is a member of the raccoon family. Originally from South America, these omnivores require a large enclosure to roam. They are extremely active and difficult to train. They have 38 to 40 sharp teeth, forage for their food, and require a lot of mental stimulation. Even though many are kept as pets, they are still wild animals that can deliver a pretty nasty bite.

  • 06 of 10

    Bats

    Egyptian fruit bat hanging upside-down
    annick vanderschelden photography/Getty Images

    What carries rabies and SARS, has sharp teeth, sleeps all day, and flies all night? Bats. They are extremely cute and intriguing, but appreciating them in the wild is best. Bats can live over 30 years and hibernate for months in colder climates. Plus, their diet consists of insects, fruit, or blood at night (depending on the species), which is difficult to adequately provide in captivity.

  • 07 of 10

    Wolves and Coyotes

    Red wolf howling

    Tambako the Jaguar/Getty Images

    Wolves and coyotes are not domesticated dogs. They act on their instincts, hunt when they are hungry, play when they want to, and sleep the rest of the day. If they feel threatened, they will attack, and they can kill an animal several times their size. Furthermore, though wolfdogs have some popularity as pets, they are not much different from their pure wolf cousins and also should be avoided.

  • 08 of 10

    Kinkajous

    Kinkajou in a tree

    Neil Bowman/Getty Images

    Smaller than their coati cousin, kinkajous only reach around 7 pounds but still have very sharp teeth and a high activity level. They also are nocturnal creatures and are known to be aggressive on occasion. They especially do not like being ​woken during the day and can emit quite a scream and attack by clawing and biting their owners. For a small animal, they can do a lot of damage to a person.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Alligators and Crocodiles

    Alligator baring its teeth

    D Williams Photography/Getty Images

    The American alligator can reach over 14 feet in length and kill prey as large as cattle. Most homes cannot accommodate such a predator. These animals can cause serious infections from bites, knock you down or break your legs with a whip of their tail, and kill you with their bite force of around 2,000 pounds. You also don't want to be around a male gator during mating season.

  • 10 of 10

    Foxes

    Red fox standing in sunlight

    CC0 Public Domain/PXHere.com 

    With the exception of the tiny fennec fox (or the domesticated silver/Siberian fox), foxes are not recommended as pets. Red foxes can become very tame but never fully trustworthy. And they will bite if they feel threatened. They also have a musky odor that is far worse than a ferret. Also, most states will destroy ​a pet fox if a bite is reported because there is no vaccination protocol for the animal.