What is an Exotic Animal? Great Massive Guide | 60+ Examples

What is an exotic animal? I revisit that question most times when I write new articles because there isn’t a true definition that stands out for what an exotic animal or exotic pet is.

For the purpose of this article, I use exotic animals and exotic pets interchangeably, just so there isn’t any confusion between the two terms since animal and pet mean the same thing in regards to owning an animal with the intention of having it domesticated.

The truth about exotic animals is that there is no true definition because no one really knows.

Wikipedia defines the term “exotic pet” as any animal that is wild in nature but held in captivity for the purpose of being a pet.

If that is the case, then any wild animal that isn’t meant to be a pet would be considered an exotic animal.

However, an exotic animal may no longer be considered exotic if the animal becomes common enough in households over time as a pet.

But let’s dive a little deeper into everything.

What Is an Exotic Animal?

An exotic animal is any animal that is not common (rare) or that requires special maintenance beyond that of your typical domestic pet. Special maintenance would also include special veterinarian services (meaning you can’t take your animal to just any vet).

Instead, you would need a specialized veterinarian that specifically deals with the type of animal you have as a pet.

In simplest terms, exotic animals are typically wild animals that weren’t bred to be domesticated as a species.

What is an Exotic Animal?

Exotic animals and wild animals are almost always used in conjunction with one another and most people accept exotic animals and wild animals to be one and the same.

However, the term “exotic animal” doesn’t really have a defined meaning because the term is subjective and can mean different things to different people.

The general rule of thumb when describing an exotic animal is to consider an exotic animal as any animal that isn’t your usual domesticated animal, such as a domesticated house cat or dog.

Are Parrots Exotic Animals?

Are Parrots Exotic Animals?
Parrots are non-domesticated animals and live in the wild in their natural state.

A parrot is considered to be an exotic animal and would be considered an exotic pet if you owned one because they are not considered domestic animals no matter how popular and widespread parrot bird owners have become over the years.

This is where the definition of an exotic animal becomes subjective.

However, I tend to agree that parrots are considered exotic pets because you can’t go to most of your mainstream pet stores and purchase a parrot.

You will likely need to find an exotic bird dealer or exotic pet store to purchase a parrot.

Are Parakeets Exotic Animals?

Are Parakeets Exotic Animals?
Parakeets are considered exotic animals because they are birds that live in a natural environment in the wild without domestication.

The main difference between parakeets and parrots is that you can find parakeets at many retail pet stores and chains across the United States, so I wouldn’t consider parakeets to be exotic pets.

But that is why I stated that an exotic animal or exotic pet is a subjective term and can mean different things depending on who you are talking to.

No matter how common pet parakeets are, they are still considered to be exotic pets for now, but who knows how long that will last?

Maybe one day they will no longer be considered to be exotic pets since they are a very common pet bird among bird lovers.

Are Tigers Exotic Animals?

Are Tigers Exotic Animals?
Tigers are not a common domestic household pet. Tigers are unusual pets for many and are considered rare for pet owners. Therefore, tigers are considered to be exotic animals.

Most of us can’t just go into the backyard and see a tiger running out of the woods, especially here in the United States.

Most tigers originate in Russia, India, Korea, and China with only an estimated 4,000 left in the wild.

Since you don’t find too many tigers in households across the world or in the wild, they are considered to be exotic animals.

One thing to note though, there are more captive tigers privately owned by individuals and organizations for the purpose of being exotic pets, attractions, and breeding.

It is estimated that 5,000 tigers are owned privately while less than 4,000 remain left in the wild today.

Are Red Pandas Exotic Animals?

Are Red Pandas Exotic Animals?
Not only are red pandas considered to be exotic animals, but red pandas are also on the endangered species list with approximately less than 10,000 left in the world, according to the World Wildlife Federation.

Owning a red panda as a pet is illegal no matter where you are because red pandas are protected by law and are meant to remain in their natural habitat.

However, with their cute physical appearance and smaller size, red pandas are popular exotic animals in the illegal pet trade.

Just know that if you come across a dealer selling a red panda, they are not legitimate because no honest dealer will take that chance on selling you such an endangered species as a red panda.

What Is an Exotic Pet?

An exotic pet can be described as any animal that is held in captivity for the purpose of domestication. If you own an exotic animal with the intent to domesticate that animal, then you own an exotic pet.

Exotic pets not normally held in captivity for the purpose of domestication include big cats, rare birds, uncommon reptiles, and a lot more.

Check out the list below of the more common exotic animals people own as pets.

Learn more about exotic pets here.

Which Animals Are Exotic Pets?

Most animals that are rare or uncommon in pet households are considered to be exotic pets.

I’ve compiled a list of the more common exotic pets from exotic pet birds to exotic pet reptiles and more.

Exotic Pet Amphibians

Exotic Pet Amphibians
Amphibians considered to be exotic pets include frogs, newts, salamanders, and toads including the African Clawed frog, Northern Leopard toad, and Axolotl salamander as seen above.

Axolotls are one of the more common amphibians pet owners try to find to be their exotic pets.

They are very popular among exotic pet owners here in America.

Other amphibian species considered to be exotic pets include:

  • American bullfrog
  • Cane toad
  • Cuban treefrog
  • Greenhouse frog
  • Rough-skinned newt
  • Among many others

Exotic Pet Arachnids

Exotic Pet Arachnids
If you want to own a pet tarantula, then you would have what is considered an exotic pet arachnid.

Tarantulas are most popular among exotic pet owners but other pet arachnids include scorpions, orb weavers, Huntsman spider, and the jumping spider.

Other arachnid species considered to be exotic pets include:

  • Feather-legged lace weaver
  • Marbled cellar spider
  • Peacock spider
  • Southern black widow
  • Spiny false wolf spider
  • Yellow sac spider
  • Among many others

Exotic Pet Birds

Exotic Pet Birds
Many birds are considered to be exotic pets. From parrots to parakeets, most colorful birds can be exotic pets, depending on your state or region and what exotic pet laws are in place.
Exotic Pet Birds

Other bird species considered to be exotic pets include:

  • Cockatiel
  • Cockatoo
  • Conure
  • Macaw
  • Pheasant
  • Pigeon
  • Toucan
  • And many others

Exotic Pet Cats

Exotic Pet Cats
Big cats and smaller, rare feline cats are considered to be exotic pets. Big cats include tigers, lions, cheetahs, leopards, and more.

Smaller to medium-sized cats include bobcats, caracals, margays, servals, ocelots, and a variety of others.

Exotic Pet Cats

Other cat species considered to be exotic pets include:

  • Abyssinian
  • Bengal cat
  • Egyptian Mau
  • Lynx
  • Nebelung
  • Ocicat
  • Sphynx
  • Toyger
  • Turkish van

Exotic Pet Insects

Exotic Pet Insects
Not only can insects be pets, but many are also considered to be exotic pets. Some insects that can be pets include stick insects, giant millipedes, and praying mantis.

Exotic Pet Reptiles

Exotic Pet Reptiles
Pet reptiles range from a variety of geckos, snakes, and more. Some reptiles that are exotic include animals such as Bearded Dragons, Leopard Geckos, and Ball Pythons.

Exotic Pet Rodents

Exotic Pet Rodents
Pet rodents are some of the smaller pets on the list. Exotic pet rodents include animals such as chinchillas, chipmunks, flying squirrels, and sugar gliders.

Other Exotic Pets

Other Exotic Pets
Other exotic animals that can be exotic pets include fennec foxes, hedgehogs, goats, raccoons, genets, kinkajous, and more.

Exotic Animals List

Below is a list of exotic animals to give you an idea of what animals are considered exotic.

This is not a full list, but a pretty extensive list to help you better understand what animals are placed in the exotic category.

Some of these animals are legal as pets (depending on where you live) and some are illegal as pets no matter where you live.

If you are interested in owning any of these exotic animals as pets, be sure and check your local exotic pet laws to determine if the exotic animal is legal to have as a pet in your state or region.

  • Axolotls
  • Bearded dragons
  • Bears
  • Bobcats
  • Capybara
  • Caracals
  • Cheetahs
  • Chimpanzees
  • Chinchillas
  • Chipmunks
  • Cockatiels
  • Cockatoos
  • Conures
  • Crows
  • Eagles
  • Falcons
  • Flying Squirrels
  • Foxes
  • Frogs
  • Geckos
  • Genets
  • Goats
  • Hawks
  • Hedgehogs (pygmy)
  • Hummingbirds
  • Hyenas
  • Jackals
  • Kangaroos
  • Kinkajous
  • Komodo dragons
  • Leopards
  • Lions
  • Lynxes
  • Margays
  • Millipedes
  • Newts
  • Ocelots
  • Pallas’s cats
  • Pandas
  • Panthers
  • Parakeets
  • Parrots
  • Pheasants
  • Pigeons
  • Praying mantis
  • Puffin birds
  • Pythons
  • Quokkas
  • Raccoons
  • Ravens
  • Rusty-spotted cats
  • Salamanders
  • Sand cats
  • Savannah cat
  • Seals
  • Servals
  • Spiders
  • Snakes
  • Stick insects
  • Sugar gliders
  • Tarantulas
  • Tigers
  • Toads
  • Toucans
  • Vultures
  • Wallabies

Are Wild Animals Also Exotic Animals?

Yes, wild animals are considered to be exotic animals by most people.

Most wild animals are uncommon as domestic pets, so owning a wild animal as a pet would fall under the exotic pets category.

I just wrote an article on having a bobcat as a pet, so I will use that as an example here.

I, personally, wouldn’t consider a bobcat as an exotic animal because bobcats can be found in most of the United States and are not rare at all.

However, many people would consider them to be exotic animals and exotic pets (if you owned one) because they are not common, domestic pets that are typically found in households of pet owners.


In this article, I provided you with information on various exotic animals and why they are considered exotic.

I included a list of exotic pets from various categories of animals including exotic birds, insects, reptiles, rodents, and more.

I hope this article was able to give you a better understanding of exotic animals and how the term is interchangeable with exotic pets.

Now that you have a pretty good idea of what an exotic animal is and what some of the more exotic pets are, do you have a favorite exotic pet that you’d like to own one day or maybe already own?

Medical Disclosure: This site has not been prepared, endorsed, or reviewed by any certified animal expert or licensed veterinarian.
This site acts as a provider of general information about animals that may be useful to members of the general public. Please consult with a certified expert or licensed veterinarian for any form of animal safety or medical advice.