- Llamas, cousins of the camel, have become popular as non-traditional pets for their affectionate nature, even allowing owners to hug them. They are expensive to care for, however, and do best with one partner or several to socialize with.
- Leopard Geckos only need a 10 gallon tank for living space, they are human friendly and don’t need UVB lamps like many other pet lizards. But owners should not forget when handling them that leopard geckos carry salmonella.
- Like many other exotic pets, the chinchilla has special care needs, such as bathing. They like to bathe in dust rather than water, so the owner should prepare a special formula bed of volcanic rock for the rodent to roll over several times a week.
Cats, dogs and rabbits are fine. But you were never stuck with the status quo! You are a rebel in search of a nontraditional pet – an animal that will make people notice. Drag, Dr. Distinctive! For you, we have compiled a list of the 10 best non-traditional pets.
#10 Best Non-Traditional Pets: Ferrets
The ferret’s popularity is on the rise in the United States. More and more families are welcoming the furry little creatures into their homes.
But they are not for everyone. For starters, ferrets need large cages and don’t do well in apartments. Also, they can be nice and aren’t great with young children. Also, your needs are minimal. Food for ferrets is available at most pet stores, and they just need a little time out of their cages each day.
On the plus side, ferrets are very smart. And since they are bonded to a human, ferrets can be very comfortable and adorable.
Click here to learn more about ferrets, which scientists now believe are a subspecies of the weasel.
#9 Best Non-Traditional Pets: Leopard Geckos
If you’re in the market for a nontraditional pet but don’t have a lot of space, look no further than the leopard gecko. Its name derives from the species’ leopard-like spots. However, unlike big cats, leopard geckos are friendly and nice to humans!
A 10 gallon tank is all the space they need to live a good life. Also, unlike other lizards, they don’t need a UVB lamp. But be sure to wash your hands after handling one because they carry salmonella.
Click here to learn more about geckos, of which there are over 2,000 species.
#8 Best non-traditional pets: Chinchillas
Originally from the Chilean highlands, chinchillas are incredibly soft rodents, and people increasingly accept them as non-traditional pets. But like many “exotic” animals, caring for a chinchilla is a little more work than caring for a dog or cat.
First of all, it is always advisable to keep chinchillas in pairs, as they prefer constant company. And despite their small size, chinchillas need a lot of space to play. Also, your hygiene needs are out of the ordinary. Instead of water baths, chinchillas take “dust baths”. Owners buy a special formula from volcanic rock that chinchillas use to clean themselves. So, several times a week, you should prepare a bed for your rodent children to roll around in. As you can imagine, it’s a pain to clean.
Click here to learn more about chinchillas, which are very intelligent.
#7 Best non-traditional pets: Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are super pets for introverts. Non-social fur packs have a simple diet and require an enclosure similar to a guinea pig’s pen. But only have one hedgehog at a time in your home, because they don’t like to share spaces.
You can pick up hedgies from pet stores across the country. Keep in mind, though, that hedgehogs raised as pets are slightly different from those in the wild.
What is the biggest downside of owning a hedgehog? They have weak bladders, which means you will spend a lot of time cleaning their compartments.
Click here to learn more about hedgehogs, one of the oldest mammals on Earth.
#6 Best Non-Traditional Pets: Fennec Fox
Big ears are normally seen as less attractive, but on Fennec foxes, they’re right up there on the cuteness chart with Baby Yoda – sorry, Grogu.
Fennec foxes, which are more like cats than dogs, need a lot of care and space. Most people who keep them as pets build large outdoor enclosures. But they can’t spend all their time in cages. Letting them out at least once a day is a must.
Fennec foxes can be trained as house cats, but their wild roots still dominate. If you take Fennecs to the dog park, don’t leave them off a leash – both for their safety and that of the other dogs.
Click here to learn more about Fennec foxes, which get all the water they need from food.
#5 Best non-traditional pets: Scorpion Emperor
For those who are a little more rock-n-roll, an emperor scorpion might be the perfect nontraditional pet. These African natives sport huge front claws and grow to about 8 inches. Unlike Indian red scorpions, emperors’ venom is very mild. In addition, individuals of the species are almost always docile. Despite their “gentle” nature, scorpions are more of a “look and don’t touch” type pet because they don’t like to be handled.
Emperor scorpions are quite easy to care for. They can be housed in a 10 gallon glass aquarium tank and would need 3 to 6 inches of bedding such as peat, soil or vermiculite to allow for digging. It’s also good to provide some hiding places, such as flat rocks, broken flower pots, or reptile skins. They usually feed on crickets, earthworms and moths.
We would be remiss not to include a word of caution here. Even though the emperor scorpion’s venom is mild compared to the loads of other species, some people are very allergic to it, and a bite can send victims into anaphylactic shock.
Click here to learn more about scorpions, which are carnivores.
#4 Best non-traditional pets: Skunk
Yes, some people keep skunks as pets. They may stink of heaven, but little rascals are so cute. Also, they are very affectionate when attached to people.
House skunks often have their scent glands removed and do not spray around their respective homes. But it is a controversial procedure that is already illegal in England. Also, skunk pets are only legal in 17 US states: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Click here to learn more about skunks, of which there are 11 species.
#3 Best non-traditional pets: capybara
Capybaras are the kindest animals you will ever hear of. Highly social, oversized rodents regularly top the friendliest animal lists. But, they are not the easiest to keep as pets. Capybaras need a lot of space and a shallow pool. Also, since they are unfailingly social, you can’t just have one capybara. He or she will quickly become depressed, even with human company.
For those with the necessary space and time, however, capybaras are adorable animals that exude peace, love and understanding. But there’s an important caveat: only people in Texas and Pennsylvania can keep them as pets!
Click here to learn more about capybaras, which are excellent swimmers.
#2 Best non-traditional pets: Llama
For those who can afford it, llamas are the designer’s new pet. The camel’s South American cousin, llamas are one of the few animals that people can safely hug. Furthermore, they are so attuned to human emotions that the Andean peoples call them “silent brothers”.
But, as you can imagine, keeping llamas requires a lot of property and food. And like many non-traditional pets, it’s never advisable to have just one. They need a friend or four to be truly happy.
Click here to learn more about llamas, which are now used as therapy animals in nursing homes.
#1 Best non-traditional pets: Sugar gliders
Sugar gliders are gerbil-sized “flying” marsupials. Curious animals need lots of toys and large enclosures to live their best lives. They also enjoy spending a lot of time with their people when kept as pets.
However, if you are plagued by olfactory sensitivities, sugar gliders can be offensive to your senses. Also, they are talkative and will chatter through the night.
Top 10 nontraditional pets summary
And now for our recap of our pet-ready options: