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Do a YouTube search for pretty much any smallish animal you can think of and there’ll be several videos of a “tame” or “pet” version. Any feline, any canid, any mustelid (weasel), any procyonid (raccoon), any non-bonkers primate (baboons, which are completely terrifying, are exempt). “Look at my pet kinkajou, my pet genet, my pet fennec fox, my pet ocelot.” And then on the videos of cute furry animals in the wild, you’ll see the comments: “OMG I want it.” When the internet sees a video of a red panda, the internet wants a red panda. Even though a red panda is endangered and a wild animal.
More than five decades, thousands of foxes, and one collapse of the Soviet Union later, the program continues at The Institute of Cytology and Genetics at Novosibirsk, Siberia. Domestication is actually change at the genetic level: an animal repeatedly breeds, either through intentional human effort or not (or a combination of the two), to emphasize certain behavioral traits. These domesticated foxes, on the other hand, have between 30 and 35 generations of selective breeding behind them, with careful monitoring to ensure a lack of inbreeding, and they’re not even close to wild—in fact, they probably wouldn’t survive in the wild. His profile on FurAffinity.net says, “I live on the awesome furry and TF artwork of y’all artists here, but I have the privilege and responsibility to love and take care of my pet red fox Ron! Greetings from Mountain Home, Arkansas!” He has a mostly unused DeviantArt page and has posted many pictures of himself in a giant blue fox costume, along with trip reports from furry conventions. “It was the first animal I really loved, and I always wanted one as a pet.” But Fedewa, despite what I expected from a Siberian-fox-importer who writes wolf comics and attends furry conventions, is not an especially odd person. She speaks with a thick and charming Michigan accent, and talks about her love of animals with self-awareness and humor—she knows what it sounds like, investing years of her life into acquiring a rare domesticated Siberian fox, knows that it’s not something most people would do, but she’s not apologetic. Kalmanson speaks very quickly, very precisely; he does not elaborate, he does not add in anecdotes or facts or insight you didn’t ask for, and he has a very curious habit of saying his piece and then just falling silent and waiting for your next move. Unique and curious animals.” He forcefully corrected me when I referred to foxes bred by breeders like Tiny Tracks as “tame.” “They’re not tame,” he said—almost snapped, though he’s not rude, exactly. When Fedewa called him up and asked him about going to Siberia to retrieve domesticated foxes, Kalmanson did his homework, interviewed her repeatedly, and decided she was up to his standards. The blood testing was done by a farm veterinarian out in Russia, though Mitch had to fabricate his own cage—he says a standard dog kennel isn’t up to the task of containing a fox. Stanley Coren, professor emeritus in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia and expert on the subject of the dog-human relationship, reminds us that even though city-dwellers tend to think of domesticated animals in terms of housepet companions, they’ve been incredibly important throughout human history. But for a large percentage of the first world, that kind of usefulness is mostly a bonus now, in our pursuit of owning a sentient warm cute furry thing that likes us. The theory is that reacting strongly to other animals—be they potential enemy, food, or friend—was an essential development for early man, one that’s still found in our brains today. Calvin Coolidge, if he tried to maintain his collection today, would be thrown in jail about twelve times over—dude had a wallaby, a duiker, a black bear, two lion cubs, a pygmy hippo, and a bobcat. The US Humane Society considers wolfdogs wild animals—they are listed as the breed with the sixth-highest bite statistics, and given their relative scarcity, that’s something like 15-20 times higher than non-hybrid dogs. So in the meantime, I will continue to go hiking here in the hills of the Northeast, where foxes are common, and I will take pictures of them and post them on my Facebook, and I will still probably talk about how much I wish it was in my living room.
Do foxes make good pets?
Yes. There are two different kinds of domesticated foxes. Fennec foxes are very small, cute and communicative, which is a main reason that they’re very popular with fox owners. Red foxes are more reserved but can also be housepets.
How can I get a fox as a pet?
They’re a little unconventional, and they require a little bit of extra attention, but if you want a pet fox, you can have a pet fox. All you need is $8,000 and the approval of Kay Fedewa, the exclusive importer of domesticated foxes in the US.
How much is a pet fox?
The cost of a truly domestic fox can cost around $5,000 to $9,000 for just the purchase from a reputable organization that truly breeds domesticated foxes. However, you may be able to find a backyard breeder that sells their foxes for as little as $200 to $700, with the red fox often being the cheapest option.
What states are legal to own a fox?
Arkansas – All Fox Species Allowed, No Permit Required. ….Florida – All Fox Species Allowed With Permit. ….Indiana – All Fox Species Allowed With Permit.
The laws regarding exotic pet ownership vary by state. Animal rights advocates advise against keeping most wild animals in captivity, but that hasn’t stopped exotic pet lovers from legally owning everything from ferrets and foxes to more dangerous beasts like alligators, bears, and tigers.
Bruno Vincent / Stringer / Getty Images
It’s been 50 years since eccentric artist Salvador Dali was photographed in Paris walking his pet anteater, but this unusual animal is still beloved by plenty of modern-day exotic pet enthusiasts. Shutterstock
It may sound odd, but over the years, wild foxes have been bred to live almost like dogs and cats — but not exactly, as they’re hard to fully domesticate. The most common , the fennec fox, is an adorably petite pack animal that is pretty docile — though it is still important to note that even these tiny furry friends are not fully domesticated. Reuters/Amy Newman/NorthJersey.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Believe it or not, it’s legal to privately own this notoriously deadly reptile in a number of states, according to FindLaw , including the unofficial home of the gator: Florida. Many animal advocates, however, are fighting back against the laws that allow private citizens to keep them as pets, arguing that inhumane conditions have led to too many kangaroo deaths at the hands of unprepared caretakers. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images
The cool, low-key llama is often recruited as a therapy animal, which is why it makes such a great family pet in the states where it’s legal. It turns out llamas rival guard dogs in their ability to ward off predators, according to Mother Earth News . Flickr / gamppart Most domestic skunks have been bred in captivity, where they’ve had their scent glands removed at a young age, according to PBS . Youth Photographer of the Year Jenaya Launstein, age 15, captured a tranquil moment in the life of a porcupine in Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada. That lesson has been learned the hard way by one too many curious dogs who have found themselves on the receiving end of a quill attack . This usually involves custom enclosures with simulated tropical conditions and a diet consisting of pre-killed rats and mice on a weekly or monthly basis, according to The Spruce Pets . Though a privately owned cougar will eventually grow accustomed to its owners, it can never be domesticated like a dog or a cat. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Sure, monkeys are cute and in some ways remind us of tiny humans — but that’s part of the reason they’re such a handful to raise as pets. Monkeys require constant care and attention, and many will live up to 40 years, according to the Primate Rescue Center . Still, that hasn’t deterred exotic pet owners throughout the US from owning everything from mischievous capuchin monkeys (like Ross had on “Friends”) to high-maintenance chimpanzees (think Michael Jackson’s chimp, Bubbles ).
Pet foxes are cute, comical, and sly little escape artists. They tend to form strong bonds with their owners. As members of the canine family, they look a lot like domesticated dogs. Generally, their personality is more like an aloof cat. They are the only member of the canine family that can adeptly climb trees. Most pet foxes are not domesticated (only one type is). A majority of foxes kept as pets have been socialized or hand-raised since birth.
Pet foxes have basic needs that you should consider before adopting: Exercise and enrichment, habitat considerations, special diet needs , and regular care by an exotic animal veterinarian. Most foxes have high energy levels, mark their territory with urine, and have demanding enrichment needs. Its small size, long life expectancy, and sweet personality make it a good choice as a pet fox. It also has a large repertoire of vocalizations: Whimpers, growls, shrieks, wails, whines, barks, squeaks, and howls. Physical Characteristics: Long, thick hair cream or fawn in color; extremely large bat-like ears; hairy feet Some dog behaviors bred into silver foxes included tail-wagging when happy, barking and vocalization, and ear floppiness. An animal that has adapted to life in the Arctic, it is sensitive to hot temperatures and may overheat easier than other foxes. Due to a small breeding stock in the U.S., Arctic foxes are overbred and some possess genetic problems. Like red foxes, its urine and scenting glands make it a smelly choice for a pet. It also loves to play in sand and dirt and may make their litter box more of a pleasure sandbox than a bathroom spot. Physical Characteristics: Dark gray to brown to bluish-brown coat in the summer; white or creamy white thick coat in winter; long, bushy tail; short nose; small curled-back ears; short, stubby legs They can be troublemakers in the house by digging up carpets, marking territory, and eating or chewing random things that they shouldn’t. Physical Characteristics: Peppery gray coat on top, reddish-brown on its sides, chest and back of head; reddish-colored legs and feet; long, bushy tail with a black stripe on top; pointed ears; pointed muzzle; long, hooked claws In the wild, they are primarily an insectivorous species with termites and dung beetles making up 80 percent of their natural diet. A naturally inquisitive species, it has little fear of humans and can form deep bonds with its owner. As a pet, it should be fed a combo diet of high quality, protein-rich dog food, cooked or raw meats, vegetables, and fruits for variety. Special treats can include hidden crickets or mealworms to stimulate their foraging instinct. Very rarely does this species make noise, but when it does, the sounds can include low barks or growls. Physical Characteristics: Pale, sandy-colored coat; whitish underbelly; long-bodied; relatively short legs; narrow muzzle; long ears and rounded at the top; bushy, black-tipped tail Physical Characteristics: Thick, soft gray coat with silvery tones and whitish underside; black-tipped tail
What is a domesticated fox?
Domestication is not like taming. You can tame many wild animals so they won’t try to kill you, by raising them from birth, but that’s just learned behavior; that animal is unlikely to exhibit what we know as affection toward you, and the behavior it does have is not passed down to the tamed animal’s offspring. Domestication is actually change at the genetic level: an animal repeatedly breeds, either through intentional human effort or not (or a combination of the two), to emphasize certain behavioral traits. In the case of animals that would, in the wild, be aggressive towards humans, those traits are easy to decide on: we want the most docile, least aggressive, and least skittish animal.The Institute picked foxes on which to experiment for a few reasons. They’re canids, like dogs, so it would be easy to compare them to a domesticated species, but they’re not particularly closely related to dogs, so there’s enough separation to see how forced domestication affects a new species. Also, these foxes were already “tame”—they were picked up from fur farms in Siberia, so they had a jump-start in adjusting to humans. But theoretically, you could domesticate just about any wild animal: mink have been domesticated in Denmark, and some have proposed domestication of certain rare but cuddly animals, like red pandas, as a means to save the species.The Soviet (and later, Russian) study out there in Siberia did eventually breed a domesticated silver fox (read: a red fox with silver fur) that’s pretty close to our dream fox. It loves and craves attention from people, it’ll lick your face, it’ll cuddle with you, it’ll wag its giant puffy tail when it sees you, it’ll play with toys in your house while you try to take the perfect Instagram picture of it. Wild foxes will not do this; they will either run away from you or attempt to bite your face off. Tame foxes may not flee or attack, but they also won’t cuddle. These domesticated foxes, on the other hand, have between 30 and 35 generations of selective breeding behind them, with careful monitoring to ensure a lack of inbreeding, and they’re not even close to wild—in fact, they probably wouldn’t survive in the wild.After a few generations, the results began to get a little weird. The study found that though they were selectively breeding only for behavior, they began seeing new common
Where can you get a pet fox?
For a brief time, a company called SibFox was selling foxes bred at the Siberian lab. They were selling for about $6,000, but it’s not clear that anyone ever actually received one of these foxes. The Daily reported that two foxes that actually shipped to the States ended up confiscated at the US border and shipped to the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, where they are doing “wonderfully.” Apparently these foxes were kept in dog kennels, which is improper, and weren’t fed or watered properly—by all accounts, the SibFox people were not licensed and were inexperienced at importing exotic animals. The only upside is that the animals survived the journey from Russia. SibFox refunded the customers’ money, stopped responding to emails, and shut down their website. Until now, SibFox was the closest anyone in the US had gotten to receiving a domesticated fox.Then there are breeders like Tiny Tracks Exotic Animals, located outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana, specializing in several varieties of fox (red fox, gray fox, and arctic fox) as well as supposedly tame raccoons, skunks, and coatis (a Central/South American mammal closely related to the raccoon). Want a pet arctic fox? That’ll run you $600. Red foxes are a little cheaper, at $400. That’s cheaper than a skunk ($450) and waaaay cheaper than something more exotic, like a kinkajou, which runs anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000. For comparison, a purebred Siberian husky can run you anywhere from $400 to $2,000, depending on its breeding and the reputation of the breeder.But none of these foxes, the ones that cost a few hundred dollars, are “domesticated.” They are wild foxes. Wild foxes are not pets; they are wild animals. The word “tame” means essentially nothing here—it mostly means “nice when it’s a baby.” The foxes from Siberia are pets. Foxes from Indiana? Wild.(Tiny Tracks repeatedly did not respond to requests for comment; Kay Fedewa described the people who run it as “not very nice people, really quite rude, even to the people they’re selling animals to.”)
Indiana is something of a promised land for exotic pet farms and owners, a libertarian wonderland where for a mere ten-dollar processing fee you can have a pet grizzly bear. Neighboring Kentucky, hardly a state you’d think would be prude about wild animals, is a fairly typical example of state laws: anything “inherently dangerous,” which includes venomous animals (snakes, lizards), huge animals (hippos, elephants), and animals that would prefer to murder you than let you pat them on the head (big cats, bears, baboons) are all outlawed. But so is any animal that has never naturally lived in Kentucky, mostly to avoid issues with invasive species. Most states simply ban any normally “wild” animal from being kept as a pet.But not Indiana! Indiana has three classes of wild animals. Class 1 is mostly squirrels. Class 2 includes foxes, beavers, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and weasels. Class 3 includes “venomous reptiles,” and all species of bear, big cat, and wolf. All three classes are legal! In fact, the only thing that separates Class 3 animals, which are banned pretty much everywhere else, is that a letter is sent to the hopeful leopard-owner’s neighbors. If 25 or more neighbors respond with a letter saying they are not interested in having a leopard on the block, the leopard is not allowed. Otherwise, no problem, sir. What’s your leopard’s name?Even more insane is that Indiana provides no law preventing you from owning an endangered species. Here’s what the state document says: “Endangered species of wild animals will be considered Class I, II or III by the division director’s designee and must follow the same procedures accordingly for that class of animal.” So, basically, your local bureaucrat will decide if your pet western lowland gorilla is a Class 2 or 3 animal, then you give him a ten-spot for processing, and you’re all set, the proud owner of one of about fourteen western lowland gorillas. Maybe you can take it to see the home of former president Benjamin Harrison in the lovely Old Northside Historic District of Indianapolis.It’s worth noting that Maine is even more lenient than Indiana; the only real law in Maine is that wild animals have to have an identification tag. Yet Mainers seem mostly uninterested in owning pet jaguarundis, at least in comparison with Hoosiers.Foxes are only legal in a handful of states. This is a pretty good guide. In some the laws are a little flexible; in Michigan, where Fedewa lives, you can have only a native species, meaning the various colors of red fox. The grey fox, which is a totally different species more commonly found in the western and southern states, is not allowed, nor is the arctic or fennec fox. A few states simply ban taking foxes from the wild. But the laws are often vague and open to interpretation, which can lead to trouble for fox owners who may or may not be in violation.Eric Mason currently lives in Arkansas, and is one of the most dedicated and visible fox owners on the internet. He posts dozens of videos of his pet red fox Rob (now deceased) on YouTube, and is very active on all kinds of pet fox forums. He’s also highly active on furry forums, where he posts under the name Albi Azul. His profile on FurAffinity.net says, “I live on the awesome furry and TF artwork of y’all artists here, but I have the privilege and responsibility to love and take care of my pet red fox Ron! Greetings from Mountain Home, Arkansas!” He has a mostly unused DeviantArt page and has posted many pictures of himself in a giant blue fox costume, along with trip reports from furry conventions. Exotic animal owners often end up in the furry community; the level of obsession and dedication needed to care for an unconventional pet is much higher than for a dog or cat owner, so exotic pet owners tend to make their pets a more prominent part of their lives than other pet owners. It’s also not everyone who wants an exotic so badly they’ll rearrange their lives around it; even Fedewa says these people tend to be “a little eccentric.”Eric’s fox Ron is not domesticated, but is among the most tame I’ve ever seen. Watching videos of Ron compared to Fedewa’s fox Anya, it’s clear that Anya is more affectionate, more dog-like, less skittish and a little more easy to control and train than Ron. But Ron is still just about the best-case scenario if you’re going for a non-Siberian fox.Eric’s compiled several lists exploring the legality of owning a pet fox in every state. I believe he at one point lived in Pennsylvania. Though the law states that foxes are illegal to own except for purposes of fur harvesting, Eric suggests talking to “Jason in the permits department” in Harrisburg because “otherwise, you will get conflicting stories.” But Eric and the breeders at Tiny Tracks are playing a very different game than Fedewa.
Is it legal to breed foxes?
“I grew up reading Jack London and those kinds of animal stories,” says Fedewa. “And I also like comics, so I decided to combine them.” She had had an idea for a London-inspired comic about wolves while she was in middle school, and while attending the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor she self-published the comic, now calledBut foxes had a special place for her. “I was always crazy about foxes,” says Fedewa. “It was the first animal I really loved, and I always wanted one as a pet.” But Fedewa, despite what I expected from a Siberian-fox-importer who writes wolf comics and attends furry conventions, is not an especially odd person. Fedewa is a 27-year-old Michigan native who works in the videogame industry, doing modeling, texturing, and user interface work for a company called Stardock. She speaks with a thick and charming Michigan accent, and talks about her love of animals with self-awareness and humor—she knows what it sounds like, investing years of her life into acquiring a rare domesticated Siberian fox, knows that it’s not something most people would do, but she’s not apologetic. “I like animals and I think it’s fun to take care of them,” she says. And it kind of is that simple. She wanted a fox! No big deal!But she also has her own life and had no interest in attempting to wrangle one of the “tame” foxes from a place like Tiny Tracks. “I didn’t want to force myself on a wild animal that hates me, that I’m forcing to live with me,” she says. And that’s what you’ll get from a “tame” fox; there’s a huge range in personality, so you might luck out and get one that’s amenable to living with a human, like Mason’s fox Ron, but you might have one that wants nothing to do with you or even one that’s violent. Even worse, when wild/tame foxes age from juvenile to mature, they go through hormonal changes and can become extremely aggressive. (“They turn into real bastards,” says Fedewa.) That’s common to many animals; primates are well-known for this abrupt change. But a true domesticated animal doesn’t suffer this problem.After she discovered the Siberian institute, Fedewa got curious. “I contacted the Institute last year,” she says, “and talked to them about [legally] importing one of the foxes. No one had ever done that before.” The way to do this legally is to find a licensed exotic animal importer—and she found her man in Mitch Kalmanson.
Is a domesticated fox the same as a tame fox?
“I have 34 tigers in my backyard,” Mitch Kalmanson told me, early in our phone conversation. “I picked [another] one up yesterday.” Also in his backyard, a 200-acre property just north of Orlando, Florida, are lions, cougars, leopards, a liger (a lion/tiger mix), a yak, minks, dogs, and assorted herd animals—horses, watusi (an African breed of cattle), zebu (an Indian breed of cattle), and emu. He also has three domesticated foxes.“I have 34 tigers in my backyard.” Kalmanson is a professional exotic animal importer, licensed by the US Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Those different licenses cover the various jobs he has—he maintains exotic animals on his property, but he also ventures across the world to obtain animals for zoos, laboratories, private customers, and whoever else needs a herd of watusi or a couple of dolphins. He’s also a risk manager for Lloyd’s of London, the British insurance market, and insures exotic animals. He insures zoos, circuses, private facilities, labs—pretty much anyone who needs insurance on an exotic, they call Mitch. He’s also a high school dropout, though he’s since acquired a college degree and has taken many post-graduate classes. I got the sense he found traditional schooling a waste of time, an imprecise way to get where he wanted to go.He is an off-putting person to talk to. Kay was chatty, friendly, funny; she was worried I’d paint her as a weirdo, which is the kind of thing no weirdo would ever think to say. I think Mitch Kalmanson might be a weirdo. That has absolutely no bearing on his professional aptitude, which is considerable, but makes for a curious phone conversation. Kalmanson speaks very quickly, very precisely; he does not elaborate, he does not add in anecdotes or facts or insight you didn’t ask for, and he has a very curious habit of saying his piece and then just falling silent and waiting for your next move. Most people, during interviews, if they finish answering a question and don’t immediately get a followup, will continue talking—they’ll try to fill the silence with more words, or questions, orHe seemed much more comfortable talking dispassionately about his work and his facilities—when I asked for his opinion on these domesticated foxes, he hesitated, for the first and only time. “I got three at the house now,” he said. “They’re very smart, smarter than a damn dog. Unique and curious animals.” He forcefully corrected me when I referred to foxes bred by breeders like Tiny Tracks as “tame.” “They’re not tame,” he said—almost snapped, though he’s not rude, exactly. “They claim that because the babies are tame. But at 10 months, they’ll turn. That’s why they typically won’t show you any older animals.”
When Fedewa called him up and asked him about going to Siberia to retrieve domesticated foxes, Kalmanson did his homework, interviewed her repeatedly, and decided she was up to his standards. He stopped just short of saying “does not compute” when I asked if he liked Fedewa. “Like” is irrelevant. She was deemed an acceptable business partner. So last February, he got on a plane and flew out to Siberia. The laboratory there sold him a year-old domesticated female red fox for $3,200. The blood testing was done by a farm veterinarian out in Russia, though Mitch had to fabricate his own cage—he says a standard dog kennel isn’t up to the task of containing a fox. Then he flew back. His fee is high, between six and twelve thousand dollars, but in the future, he’ll be able to bring back up to seven domesticated fox kits at a time, which will be cheaper per fox. Fedewa plans to sell the foxes for about $8,000 each.With Mitch’s help, Fedewa created The Domestic Fox, a project that she hopes will make yearly trips to Siberia to obtain fox kits for owners in North America and Europe. The foxes are available in several color morphs—these are all red foxes,
Do domesticated foxes make good pets?
So what’s it like to have a domesticated fox as a pet? Not quite like a dog, says Fedewa—a fox isn’t a cool-looking dog, it’s a different animal with different behavioral quirks. “Foxes are highly intelligent,” says Fedewa, “and because of that they’reAnya is also not quite as trainable as a domestic dog; she can obey some commands, but has a shorter attention span than most dogs. Going for walks is also tricky. Fedewa says Anya will walk on a leash, but doesn’t like it much—she thinks Anya feels exposed and is tense and nervous. Neighbors, too, have been a problem. Fedewa had to move once already. A neighbor called the city, who sent over investigators and told her she was not allowed to have the fox. This is not legally accurate, but the legal fees required to fight that battle outweighed Fedewa’s desire to stay put. So she moved, to a more forgiving property with about an acre of land in the southeastern corner of Michigan.Those are minor hurdles for Fedewa, if they even are hurdles. That’s what comes with owning a fox. And in truth, those are very minor issues in the world of exotics. Anya is affectionate, which hardly any exotics are; she plays, she recognizes and craves attention from her owner. She has quirks, but she is, distinctly, a pet. Both Fedewa and Kalmanson are vocal about this distinction: exotic, non-domesticated animals are not pets, and during my interviews, both Fedewa and Kalmanson expressed disdain (mild from Fedewa, blunt from Kalmanson) for private citizens who want to make wild animals their pets. But Anya is a pet.
Salvador Dali owned a pet anteater — and you can too.
It’s been 50 years since eccentric artist Salvador Dali was photographed in Paris walking his pet anteater, but this unusual animal is still beloved by plenty of modern-day exotic pet enthusiasts.Especially beloved is the 10-pound tamandua — the diminutive cousin of the giant anteater — which makes for a cuddly, non-violent companion in many states. Tamanduas love to gobble up termites and — you guessed it — ants, though this doesn’t make them an effective form of pest control, according to many experts.
The majority of tigers live as pets, not in the wild.
About 5,000 tigers live in legal captivity in more than a dozen states — many as privately owned pets — while the population of wild tigers has dwindled to about 3,890, according to the World Wildlife Fund.Owning a pet tiger may sound thrilling — Mike Tyson sure thinks so — but caring for it can be a serious challenge. A tiger’s diet can consist of up to 88 pounds of meat in one sitting, and its enclosure should be as big as 40 square miles. While studies show tigers can peacefully coexist with people, any frustrated, cooped-up cat has the capacity to eventually lash out.
Foxes are as smart as dogs, and could be on the way to domestication.
It may sound odd, but over the years, wild foxes have been bred to live almost like dogs and cats — but not exactly, as they’re hard to fully domesticate.Today, pet foxes are legal in up to 15 states, but the rules vary by breed. The most common, the fennec fox, is an adorably petite pack animal that is pretty docile — though it is still important to note that even these tiny furry friends are not fully domesticated.
Pet tarantulas can be quite the handful.
They mightWhile these supercharged spiders may not be your typical family pet, plenty of intrepid arachnophiles disagree — and it’s perfectly legal for them own tarantulas in many states.
An alligator is a huge commitment — and it might outlive you.
Believe it or not, it’s legal to privately own this notoriously deadly reptile in a number of states, according to FindLaw, including the unofficial home of the gator: Florida.Pet owners tend to fall in love with baby alligators, which are less than a foot in length and virtually harmless. But adults can grow to be more than 11 feet long, weigh a whopping 1,000 pounds, and live up to 50 years, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. Plus, their carnivorous appetite is practically insatiable — and pet owners can be seen as tasty meals.
Kangaroos are controversial, but they’re legal in some states.
Though kangaroos are indigenous to Australia, some have made their way into backyards throughout the US. Many animal advocates, however, are fighting back against the laws that allow private citizens to keep them as pets, arguing that inhumane conditions have led to too many kangaroo deaths at the hands of unprepared caretakers.Wallabies, a smaller and more docile kind of kangaroo, are a bit more common in the exotic pet world — Elvis Presley briefly had a couple — but like their larger counterparts, they can also become dangerous when agitated, according to The Spruce Pets.
If you’re stressed out, consider a pet llama.
The cool, low-key llama is often recruited as a therapy animal, which is why it makes such a great family pet in the states where it’s legal.A pet llama is loyal, affectionate, clean, and generally low-maintenance as long as it has plenty of outdoor space — and preferably a furry cohort by its side, as llamas are herd animals, according to Good Housekeeping.Need another compelling reason to adopt a few of these cuties? It turns out llamas rival guard dogs in their ability to ward off predators, according to Mother Earth News.
Owning a skunk isn’t as stinky as it sounds.
Most domestic skunks have been bred in captivity, where they’ve had their scent glands removed at a young age, according to PBS. Some animal advocates have called the practice inhumane, as de-scented skunks likely wouldn’t survive in the wild if they got lost.But those who call this surprisingly playful creature a pet in the 17 states where it’s legal know that a very well-fed skunk that gets a lot of attention, affection, and discipline likely won’t stray far from home.
A porcupine can be a pretty easygoing pet — but it can also be prickly.
Yes, it’s possible to pet a porcupine, and a number of states allow you to keep one as a pet. But safely handling this spiky rodent takes patience and skill. That lesson has been learned the hard way by one too many curious dogs who have found themselves on the receiving end of a quill attack.Porcupines can be trained to a degree — and some even grow to be affectionate toward humans — but bear in mind they’re solitary creatures who can become violent when agitated.
Yes, boa constrictors can easily kill you, but they probably won’t.
Despite its ominous name, a boa constrictor is quite gentle when properly cared for. This usually involves custom enclosures with simulated tropical conditions and a diet consisting of pre-killed rats and mice on a weekly or monthly basis, according to The Spruce Pets.Needless to say, this exotic, non-venomous pet is not for the faint of heart. But its docile nature — when not provoked, of course — has earned it legal status in plenty of states.
A pet cougar can be tamed, but it can never be domesticated.
Wildcats are just that — wild. Yet a number of US states allow you to keep them in captivity, according to Big Cat Rescue.A popular choice for exotic pet owners is the cougar, which is obviously also a risky one.Though a privately owned cougar will eventually grow accustomed to its owners, it can never be domesticated like a dog or a cat. The best you can hope for is a docile — and sometimes playful — pet that won’t crush you to death with its powerful jaw.
Two-toed sloths are the darlings of the exotic pet world — just ask Kristen Bell.
Actress Kristen Bell went viral in 2012 after she publicly burst into tears upon meeting a two-toed sloth. The internet largely agreed — these tree-dwelling creatures are irresistible. But they’re also high-maintenance creatures that are accustomed to wild, tropical habitats that can’t always be duplicated by pet owners.Even though sloths are legal to own in several states, the Sloth Conservation Foundation warns not to mistake their slow-moving nature for comfort. Stillness is actually a defense mechanism they’ve developed to blend in when they feel threatened by predators.
A pet bear can be your best friend — or your worst enemy.
Oh my, you really can keep a bear as a pet in more than a dozen states — though that won’t be the case for long if the Humane Society has its way.And while bears have been known to develop affectionate relationships with their human caregivers, there have been far too many cautionary tales of bears who snapped and mauled people out of nowhere after lifelong relationships. That’s because — pets or not — bears are wild animals with primal instincts that can be activated in the blink of an eye.