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7 Unusual Pets That Are Surprisingly Legal to Own in USA

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By Jerry Walters - - 5 Mins Read
Exotic animals, turtle, toad, etc
| Shutterstock

Choosing the right type of pet can be a unique decision for each individual. While some people may have a clear idea of the type of animal they want as a companion, others may be interested in unconventional pets that are not typically considered for domestic ownership, such as wild animals.


In the United States, a diverse array of exotic pets is legally accessible despite their unique nature. While Salvador Dali's eccentric anteater walks in Paris are a bygone era, a contemporary community of exotic pet enthusiasts thrives.


If you're not a regular dog or cat lover and would want a pet with more unique features, this article highlights seven unusual pets that can be legally owned in the US, offering brief insights into their care and associated challenges.


1. Tamanduas


A Tamanduas hanging on the branch of a tree
Tamanduas | Shutterstock


Tamanduas, the charming 10-pound relatives of giant anteaters, stand out as unique pets to own, legally permitted in numerous states across the US. These affectionate creatures are fond of devouring termites and ants, although they don't excel as pest controllers.

While their cuteness may attract exotic pet enthusiasts, it's important to remember that tamanduas have specific care requirements and aren't a practical choice for pest control despite their natural diet of insects. Responsible ownership and understanding of their needs are crucial for those considering them unconventional companions.


2. Tiger


A tiger in the woods
Tiger | Pixabay


Tigers, undeniably majestic creatures, are among the most unique pets to own, though their ownership is only permitted in select states with stringent regulations. Their challenges are considerable, demanding an extremely large diet and expansive enclosures that mimic their natural habitats.


Tigers can pose serious risks when frustrated or confined, underscoring the importance of responsible ownership. Despite their enticement, the complexities and potential dangers associated with keeping tigers as pets make them an exotic choice best suited for experts with the means to provide proper care.


3. Fennec Fox


A Fennec Fox sitting on white sand
Fennec Fox | Unsplash


The petite and docile fennec fox stands out as a favored choice among those seeking unique pets to own. Legal in approximately 15 states, these adorable creatures have won hearts with their charming demeanor. However, it's crucial to recognize that fennec foxes are not entirely domesticated despite their amiability.


Owners must remain vigilant and remember their wild instincts, ensuring responsible care and understanding of their specific needs to maintain a harmonious relationship with these captivating exotic pets.


4. Tarantula

A Tarantula spider on a yellow surface
Tarantula | Julian Schultz/Unsplash

Tarantulas aren't conventional family pets, but they surprisingly enjoy legal status in numerous states, making them unique pets to own. These supercharged spiders may not appeal to everyone, but they offer an intriguing choice for spider lovers. Tarantulas typically thrive in a dark and secluded environment, and their diet consists of small creatures like crickets, mealworms, and roaches.


While unconventional, the legality of owning tarantulas in many states allows enthusiasts to embrace these creatures and their fascinating behaviors, although they require a specific habitat and care.


5. Alligator


An alligator sunning on a wooden deck
Alligator | Paul Brennan/Pixabay


Baby alligators may seem harmless at first, but they can quickly transform into vicious carnivorous reptiles. They are legal to own as pets in certain states such as Florida, but their ownership requires responsible care and caution.


Pet owners must be aware of the alligator's potential to view them as prey and take necessary precautions. These intriguing but challenging pets require specialized care and an understanding of their predatory instincts. While the allure of having a baby alligator is undeniable, owners need to be well-informed and responsible to ensure the safety and welfare of both the pet and the owners.


6. Llama


A Llama
Llama | Unsplash


Llamas, known for their loyalty and affection, make unique pets to own, provided state laws permit them. These low-maintenance therapy animals offer a distinctive companionship experience. To ensure their well-being, they need ample outdoor space, which aligns with their natural habitat as herd animals.


Ideally, having a companion llama is beneficial for their social needs. While not as conventional as cats or dogs, llamas have gained recognition for their therapeutic roles and unique attributes, making them a rewarding choice for those looking for distinctive pets to own.


7. Anaconda


Woman in a living room, handling a giant anaconda
Woman handling a pet anaconda | Shutterstock


Owning an anaconda, the world's most giant snake, is a statement of its own, making it a unique pet to own legally in Vermont with a permit. These massive serpents originate from the tropical forests of South America.


However, the challenge lies in providing suitable food, as they can consume prey like tapirs that weigh up to 700 pounds in the wild. This underscores the extraordinary nature of having an anaconda as a pet and the necessity for responsible ownership, considering their immense dietary and habitat needs.


If you're considering owning a unique pet legally in certain states, it's essential to be aware of the responsibilities that come with it. These animals often have specific requirements and can pose risks if not cared for properly. However, if you prefer to adopt a puppy instead of tackling the unique demands that come with getting an exotic pet, there are important things you should consider. As ethical and legal discussions about exotic pets continue to evolve, potential owners should conduct thorough research, understand local regulations, and ensure a secure environment for themselves and the animals.