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Keeping Big & Small Exotics Pets at Home

Exotic pets have been growing in popularity across the country but it is critical to understand the commitment you will need to care for these pets before buying one. Today our Modesto vets share information on some of the best exotic pets people own.

Exotic Pets

Exotic pets is a pretty broad term considering not all of these "pets" are legal to own. It's important to note that some of these exotic animals may not be legal to own where you live (varies by state or country) and these unique creatures have very specific care requirements and behavioral characteristics that make them challenging to care for properly.

Before you even start thinking about what type of exotic pet you would like, it is essential to do in-depth research into their care requirements, nutritional needs, habits, behaviors, health issues and housing needs. To help get you started, the following list of exotic pets has some of the best exotic pets.

Bearded Dragon

Originating from Australia, the bearded dragon has become a fairly common exotic pet within North America. Parents have been known to give bearded dragons to their children as a first pets due to their relaxed nature and because they are quite easy to take care of.

They can grow to be up to two feet long, so you will need to have a good amount of space for the extremely large enclosure your pet will require. They also need a hot area (around 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and a cooler area (between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit) in their enclosure, allowing the temperature to drop to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. Although they do love to be held and handled, it is still a good idea to wash your hands afterward. All reptiles have the potential of carrying and spreading salmonella.


The Capybara is one of the largest rodents in the world and can weigh up to 140 pounds. They are semi-aquatic animals, So they will need to have some sort of water source available for them to swim.

Capybaras are extremely social creatures and are almost always in groups in the wild. Because of this, you probably should avoid just getting one as they will need a companion. Although they are quite cute and generally rather sweet, they can get difficult to own as a pet if you aren't able to keep them happy.

Fennec Fox

The Fennec Fox is the smallest fox in the world, originating from Africa. These adorable creatures are growing in popularity due to how similar they appear to be to cats and dogs. This species only reaches about four pounds even when fully grown, but is still very playful and full of energy while also being happy being left to its own devices.

That said, due to their nocturnal nature, it can be difficult to manage their high energy level during the hours when most people are sleeping. They are territorial animals and are likely to mark their territory with urine and fecal mounds. They are also very vocal and prone to letting out very loud, high-pitched vocalizations. 

Sugar Gliders

Often thought to be the same as a flying squirrel, sugar gliders are cute little creatures that have thin membranes of skin on each side of their body that give them the ability to glide from a high point to a lower location. The main difference between sugar gliders and flying squirrels is that sugar gliders are generally a bit smaller in size, and are marsupials while flying squirrels are mammals.

This is another social pet that would highly benefit from having a second sugar glider in their environment if you were to be interested in one. When properly socialized, sugar gliders are great, loyal companions and can be very affectionate. However, they are rather messy and can be very difficult to house-train.


These adorable creatures are often referred to as "mini kangaroos" due to their uncanny resemblance to the fellow marsupial. Like the kangaroo, the wallaby is only found naturally in Australia, but unlike regular kangaroos, they are also native to Papua New Guinea. Wallaby can now be seen in specific states around the United States as rare house pets.

Wallabies are extremely difficult to care for and will require a lot of research before purchasing one. With these creatures being truly exotic, you should look into wallaby behavior, diet, the ability for veterinary care in your area as well as housing habits just as a start. They also require ample outdoor space so you may require a license in your state to own a wallaby.

Think Before You Buy

There is certainly a definite appeal to owning exotic pets as people often like the idea of owning something atypical that not many people will have. However, a lot of research should be done before bringing home your pet. Failing to do so may put the animal's health and safety at risk, and they can also be a danger to you and your family. Be sure to also contact your state, city,  and vet to ensure there will not be any issues in acquiring your exotic pet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

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