World’s most exotic pets and how much they’ll cost you
An exotic animal is a species that is not native or indigenous to the owner’s location. Thousands of years ago, only those of high status could own fierce and exotic animals like a cheetah or lion. Exotic pets are much more available today. Some are legal, others are only found on the black market.
Dogs and cats are still great, but many people stand out from the mundane and are indulging their exotic taste in pets. Whether you’re a millionaire or someone far under or in-between, these are 30 of the world’s most exotic pets and their surprising price tags.
1. Ayan Cemani Chicken
Considered the Ferrari of chickens, these rare chickens from Indonesia are usually owned by only the wealthiest class. These chickens are completely black from their feathers, to their beaks, to even their bones and organs. They are only sold in pairs for around $5,000. Could these fancy chickens cure diseases?
That is the legend in Indonesia. This belief doesn’t really help their numbers though, considering there’s only 3,500 in the world. They are often used in sacrificial rituals before construction ventures or in elections for good luck.
Although the upfront cost is high, the upkeep for these rare birds is comparable to that of their more common counterparts, so don’t expect to break the bank after the initial purchase.
2. Stag Beetle
These buggers are all the rage in Japan. Their large antlers and mandibles make this beetle look somehow both majestic and ferocious, despite its miniature size. The appearance is what makes it stand out from other beetles making it worth a staggering $8,900. They can grow to as large as 12cm, though they usually top out at about 5cm.
Their impressive horns make these guys entertaining warriors. In Japan, you can watch them duke it out on live television fights and even bet on the winner. To care for your beetle, all you need is a glass tank with a natural-looking environment. Some sap or soft fruit will satiate a full-sized beetles’ diet.
Remember Tookie the talking toucan from George of the Jungle? Real life Toucans are less annoying than Tookie but can make a great pet for the avid bird lover. They are good-natured and phenomenal to look at but come at a cost upwards of $8,000 dollars, not to mention the thousands you’ll spend to accommodate their very particular needs.
Toucans can live up to 20 years but are high maintenance due to their sensitive diet and boundless amounts of energy. They need a lot of space and can’t have their wings clipped. Many owners regret getting one because they have to babysit their feathery friends around the clock.
4. Savannah Cat
One of the most majestic cats in the animal kingdom, a Savannah cat is a cross between an African Serval and a domestic cat. While they are the best of both worlds for a pet owner looking to bring a bit of the wild into their dwelling, this cat will cost you around $12,000 to $20,000.
These cats are known to be affectionate and sweet-tempered if they’re socialized young. They’re more like dogs in the sense that they don’t like to be left alone too often. Highly intelligent, curious and high energy these cats are best suited for an active owner. Though their diet is basically the same as a normal cat, don’t be surprised to find prey from the Savannah cat’s latest kill on your rug. They don’t always subdue their wild side!
5. De Brazza Monkey
De Brazza monkeys are one of the most expensive monkeys in the world and are often kept as pets in Africa. They look like a wise old sensei with a light orange brow, long white beard, and kind eyes. Supposedly, they were named after the Franco-Italian explorer who found them, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza. Expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 to own one.
These monkeys are so expensive due to their rarity and an average lifespan of 22 years. They’re good at hiding and very shy, so it’s hard to get an accurate number of how many are in existence. Expect to pay thousands of dollars to contain the monkey and feed them. Their diet is mainly omnivorous – fruits, flowers, and greens, with the occasional beetle or termite snack.
6. Red Arowana
The worlds most coveted fish, the Red Arowana or “Dragon Fish” hails from central parts of Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Their vibrant red coloration, large coin-like shiny scales, and elegance – not to mention their rarity – price them at around $3,000 a fish. A “grandmaster” Arowana with superior genetics can cost upwards of $50,000.
They are illegal in the U.S but thrive in the black markets of New York and Los Angeles. The Arowana is so valuable that it can only be breed in high-security fish farms in Asia and are marked with traceable microchips! Alan Teo, Malaysian entrepreneur and Arowana breeder claimed that a high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party bought a fish for a cool $300,000.
Basically, capybaras are dog-sized giant hamsters legal in select places within the U.S. They are the largest rodent in America and can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,100. Buying them from a foreign country can raise their price up to $8,000. These rodents are known to have tame personalities but need to have a few needs met to be truly happy.
They’re semi-aquatic animals, so you’ll need a pool and lots of space. Capybaras are social herd animals, and not in the mild sense of the term. They are intensely social! You need to adopt them in pairs because their separation anxiety goes through the roof if left alone. A highly intelligent animal, they can be housetrained with patience and diligence. They have no odor and rarely shed, so your carpet and couch won’t pay the price.
Smitten by their soulful eyes, long pointy ears, and bouncy feet, rapper Vanilla Ice was once a proud owner of a wallaroo named “Buckey Buckaroo.” Buckaroo and his companion – a goat named Pancho –maintained a tight bond and even made the news after escaping the rapper’s home. Slightly smaller cousins of the kangaroo, these wallaroos go for about $4,000 apiece.
Wallaroos can live for 20 years and are unique pets that can be entertaining to have around. They learn simple commands and, if properly socialized, are very friendly and quick to form strong bonds with humans. Joeys can be hand-raised on formula and once they grow older can start commercial diets, which cost their human caretakers around $200-$400 a month.
9. Wolf-Dog Hybrid
Wolf-dogs are legal in a few states and can make great companions. Because of their mix, they are smarter than domestic dogs and hyper-aware of their surroundings. While your dog might love you unconditionally, wolf-dogs are more into the “what’s in it for me” mentality. They can be extremely loyal but do tend to test the authority of the pack leader (you) – and mark their territory constantly.
Prices vary based on the amount of “wolf blood” in the litter but range from $400 to $2000. Kristen Stewart from the Twilight series may have more love for wolves than what’s seen in the movies. The Twilight star’s mother raises wolf-dog hybrids and Kristen even owns one named Jack.
Cute, small, nocturnal, and exotic Kinkajous are monkey-like creatures from Central and South America that go by many names, including nightwalker, honey bear, or Potos Flavus. With opposable thumbs and a big googly eyes, this furry creature will befriend your whole family – granted you feed it lots of honey, fruit, and small insects.
Kinkajous can be bought for around $700 to $3500, depending on the animal’s age, quality, and gender, as well as the breeder. They can live 25 to 40 years and will weigh about 18 lbs. once fully-mature. To keep them happy, you’ll need to pay for a cage or outdoor enclosure. They can be playfully rough, as Paris Hilton found out when her Kinkajou “Baby Love” bit her.
You’re bound to come home with a date after taking your adorable hedgehog to the park. Despite their prickliness, hedgehogs are extremely cute and fairly priced for exotic animals. On average, they cost about $175 to $375 and need to be contained in either a cage or high fence, because they’re agile climbers. They’re easily fed with either cat food or fruit.
Don’t confuse porcupines with hedgehogs. Porcupines shoot spikes, hedgehogs do not. Also, don’t be alarmed when your hedgehog “self-anoints” himself by making a spitball and launching it onto his own spikes. It may seem weird and disgusting, but it’s just a defense mechanism to blend into his surroundings.
12. Hyacinth Macaw
At an average cost of over $15,000, you can own one of the smartest and largest birds on the planet. They call this the “Great Dane” of birds, standing over 3 feet tall and flaunting a vibrant cobalt-blue color with contrasting yellow and black feathers. It’s a good thing they’re even-tempered because their beak is strong enough to break coconuts.
This bird is not good for a first-time bird owner. Its diet consists almost wholly of palm nuts from two specific types of palm trees but can be substituted with Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, coconuts, pistachios, and cashews. They need a lot of space to fly, attention, and toys to chew. If not, their screams are bound to drive you and your neighbors mad!
13. Albino Burmese Python
These extremely rare and obscure animals may cost you as much as $22,000. One of the largest species of snakes in the world, these albino pythons are semi-aquatic but can also be found hanging from trees. Be aware that they are nocturnal so you may rarely see them. These snakes require dedication, a large wallet, and extensive handling knowledge.
When they are smaller, they can be quite frivolous but become more docile with age. Still, these are huge snakes that could easily mistake you for food and cause serious injury if not handled correctly! They eat a rabbit once every two weeks and need a large reinforced enclosure, spotlights for temperature, and a large water area to soak in… alongside a glass of wine (kidding!).
14. White Lion Cub
The brilliant King of the Jungle. Forbes lists them as the world’s most expensive pet and you can have one of your very own for a mere $140,000. Taking proper care of these show-stopping animals – including food, enclosures, permits, vet visits, and more — can cost millions of extra dollars.
Stay on their good side while they’re a cub, and they can grow a bond with humans and be extremely affectionate. While they may be snuggly like a housecat, remember these specimens are natural born killers that grow to be upwards of 675 lbs. Don’t play too rough with your pet lion or their instincts might kick in!
15. Tibetan Mastiff
These massive furballs will cost you as much as $500,000. Yes, that’s half a million dollars for this beast of a dog. They are not only visually stunning but also gentle giants and extremely loyal. Having been bred to watch over the livestock, they can be greatly protective of their owners.
A Tibetan Mastiff can live 10 to 14 years and weigh anywhere from 140 to 170 lbs. These dogs love the outdoors but are known to be quiet indoors. This is the dream for most dog owners, as they don’t have to deal with begging or demand barking. Interestingly enough, most Tibetans don’t really do “fetch.” I guess they’re above all that nonsense.
For obvious financial reasons, it makes sense to own a triple crown winner. These thoroughbred horses are worth upwards of $16 million. Not usually considered pets, these horses are actually a great investment. People are willing to spend over $60,000 for the seed of the horse, in hopes that the offspring will receive its parent’s running gene.
A horse can produce their “stuff” multiple times a day, making their owners a lot of bread. Owning this horse can cost you upwards of $100,000 a year between food, training, veterinary expenses and entrance fees into any races.
On the bright side, if your horse stays a winner and keeps breeding, those expenses will be no skin off your nose.
17. Giant Anteater
Now this one seems out of this world – unless you have a real ant problem. But hey, surrealist and artist Salvador Dali was fairly pleased with his anteater and would take it for regular walks. This 7 ft, 140 lb. exotic pet will cost you around $5,000 to $8,000. Surprisingly enough, those who have owned anteaters say they seek attention regularly from their owners and even respond to their name.
As a terrestrial animal, these guys need a lot of space to move around and are more like backyard pets. Anteaters can eat over 30,000 ants a day. Since not even Petco has that many ants, you can supplement their diet with blue cheese, wheat bran, fruit, vegetables, avocados, spinach, flax meal, thyme, etc. Mixing some meat in their diet isn’t unheard of either. Just no sugar, as sugar is bad for anteaters.
Dancer, singer, and actress Josephine Baker’s cheetah “Chiquita” traveled the world with her and slept in her bed. These iconic wild cats exemplify grace, agility, ferociousness, and speed. Only sold on the black market, a cheetah cub can put you under $1000 to $2000. You need more than just a cage to hold them in, the “King of Race Tracks” needs space to roam.
The upkeep of this pet is expensive. You can expect to pay upwards of $50,000 for their “track,” vitamins, toys, permits, insurance, and vet bills. Cheetahs have long been considered a status symbol and were first kept as house pets thousands of years ago.
Just don’t get caught walking your exotic pet, you can expect to face 6 months of prison and have your extremely-fast cat confiscated.
19. Capuchin Monkey
You can expect to pay $4000 to $8000 for a Capuchin. These charismatic primates have taken the spotlight as intelligent and mischievous actors in movies like Indiana Jones, Tarzan, The Hangover, Monkey Trouble, and even the TV show, Friends. They are exotic pets, so they require certain permits but are very much legal.
Justin Bieber owned a capuchin named “Mally,” but the animal was seized by customs in Germany when Bieber failed to present proper paperwork.
Some capuchins have been recorded to live 40 years and don’t weigh more than 4 lbs. when fully mature. Back in the day, capuchins were trained to help quadriplegics get around the house. They opened bottles, microwaved food, and even washed the patient’s faces.
20. Domestic Dromedary camel
This camel is easily domesticated, and it’s believed that none live in the wild. They love being scratched and even respond to commands with treats. One of these large mammals will cost you $10,000. They are easily trained as work animals, and their feces makes great fertilizer. Expect to spend thousands on food, as they are large mammals.
If you have a long trip, these camels are great for commuting – as long as you’re not in a hurry! They can tolerate extreme heat of up to 106F before starting to sweat. The fatty tissue in their hump breaks down and supplies them with energy when food and water are scarce. Wow, talk about a survival hack!
21. Goliath Palm Cockatoo
Native to Australia and Southeast Asia, this majestic and large bird is priced at a hefty $16,000. Known to be gentle or even docile, this bird became extra famous with its debut on the Conan show. Their jet-black feathers, bright red cheeks, and unique crest put them in high demand.
They can get excited and make extremely loud calls. This bird requires a special diet and is reluctant to breed, which only adds to its rarity (and, in effect, its price). This bird may even outlive you, as some can make it to the ripe age of 90 years old!
22. Sugar Gliders
These bug-eyed, white-bellied, flying marsupial parachutes cost about $200 to $500. They’re an excellent exotic pet because they have similar intelligence and lifespan to that of a dog. They come when called, and can complete basic tricks. If fed a proper diet, they don’t emit an odor like other rodents do.
Sugar gliders are immensely entertaining to watch. They can take a leap of faith from heights of over 150 ft. and glide down to safety. They are extremely social, and veterinarian-approved pellets won’t cost you more than $10 a month. These furry friends will also gladly accept any fruit lying around the house.
The extremely soft downy fur of the chinchilla makes them awesome cuddle pets. Unfortunately, their extreme softness contributed to their popularity in the fur industry. The price for a pet Chinchilla ranges from $50 to $200, depending on the color of their fur. Solid violet or dark tan colors are the most sought after.
Because water can’t penetrate their dense fur, they need to take special dust baths at least once a week. Chinchillas are known to be low maintenance and aren’t easily frightened by much. Their diet is simple, consisting of water, hay, fortified pellets and rolled oats. Make sure to have chew toys available, as they gnaw on things constantly to halt the continuous growth of their teeth.
24. Black Diamond Stingray
These exotic colored creatures, also known as Leopoldi stingrays, hail from the Amazon river basins of Brazil. This fish was virtually unavailable up until 2008. The range of patterns of differing stingrays can fluctuate the price of the fish anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. Adults average about 60cm or 24 inches.
With their jet-black bodies and illuminating bright white spots, it’s understandable how this fish can pull at an aquarist’s heartstrings. This fish is carnivorous, mainly eating small fish, and has a lifespan of 15-20 years. To maintain the fish, you’ll need a decently-large tank that may set you back as much as the cost of the fish.
25. Chinese Crested Dog
Now, these patchy wonders are highly sought after and admired for their unfortunate looks. A dog named “Sam” from this specific breed became famous after winning the World’s Ugliest Dog Competition from 2003 to 2005. A Chinese Crested also played the part of Krull in How to Lost a Guy in 10 Days. This endearingly ugly breed can cost you upwards of $5,000.
They weigh no more than 10 lbs., are agile and are always extremely alert with their great hearing. Take the time to housebreak and socialize this breed, or they can end up becoming very snappy and ill-tempered in adulthood. It’s best to not let them jump from high places, as they are so frail-boned that they can break a leg from a few feet up. That’s a vet bill you just don’t need!
26. Fast Pigeons
Pigeon Racing? Racing pigeons is a huge scene in China and the very fastest pigeons can fetch a pretty penny. A racing pigeon named Bolt, named after the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was sold for an impressive $400K. The 530-pigeon stock that bolt came from sold for another $6 million.
Despite having “bird brains,” pigeons are very loyal to their family and home if treated correctly. They will return to a cage or dwelling that is safe and filled with food daily without fail. Pigeons are in no way exotic but find a pigeon that makes as much money as Bolt and you can call your pigeon whatever you want!
27. Crocodile Monitor Lizards
Hailing from the tropical island of New Guinea, these are the longest reptiles on earth. You can own one of these mini Godzilla’s for the price of $2,000. They are aggressive, territorial reptiles that can grow up to four meters long and will try to outsmart you whenever they have the chance.
They prefer to eat their food live and are typically fed guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens. Though they are not amongst the world’s deadliest animals, hungry ones that haven’t been properly caged have been known to eat cats and dogs. Despite the dangers that come with these apex predators, they are still legal pets. Be prepared to spend thousands on a proper enclosure, vet visits, and live food.
28. Sumatran Tiger
This is not a tubby Garfield cat. These felines will grow to be over 418 kilograms and eat more meat in a day than some can afford in a year. A tiger cub can cost within the range of $800 to $3000. Feel free to add an extra $20K to that expense for the first year of care alone.
Think twice before committing to this exotic pet, though, because these cute kitties are critically endangered. A cheaper option (as opposed to buying one) would be to adopt a Sumatran Tiger, making monthly payments to support its quality of life and protection in return for cute pictures and facts about your adopted buddy. Tigers need a considerable amount of space, and they eat 10 to 15 lbs. of meat a day – mainly deer, wild pigs, antelope and water buffalo.
Big celebrities, such as Kim Kardashian and the King of Pop Michael Jackson, have owned chimpanzees. They are highly prized exotic pets because of their high functioning brains, expressive faces and similar genetic makeup to humans. These primates are endangered and the average price for a chimp starts at around $65K.
Pet chimps are usually taken from their mothers at a young age so they can build a bond with their human owners. They can be taught to do everyday things like cook food, open doors, pick up items, and even dial 911. Communicating with your chimp is made easy if they’re taught sign language. They are twice as strong as humans, so they need strong enclosures with lots of space in a jungle gym type setting to keep them busy.
As the name implies, a sloth is a slow-moving mammal that has a special place in people’s hearts as they can have cheeky smiling expressions from time to time. Expect to pay around $1500 to $3000 for these sluggishly exotic pets. You can only get one if you live in a tropical area and have the right permits.
They aren’t the most exciting of pets because they sleep 18 hours a day to conserve energy. They tend to be very slow, but can still be affectionate and have been known to show love for blankets, children, and even stuffed animals. Their diet consists of tree buds, twigs, fruit, and leaves. Don’t expect to spend more than $30 dollars on food a month because their metabolism is just as slow moving as they are.