15 Predators You Can Own As A Pet

Cats and dogs make for great companions, but they don't really strike fear in your enemies like a full-grown tiger! That's right, it's legal to own tigers in some parts of the world, but they aren't the only predators you can enjoy as pets. The exotic animal pet trade offers up numerous species of carnivorous creatures that enjoy eating meat just as much as we do. They range in size and shape from very small arachnids to the aforementioned frightening kitty.

Whatever your interest, there's a predator out there waiting to be purchased — usually for a lot more money than you need to fork over for something like a bunny. Check out this list of the best predators you can own as a pet, and when you see the ones you absolutely must have, make sure to give it a vote up to see which one rises to the top!

Photo: Umberto Salvagnin / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.0

  • 1
    218 VOTES

    Fennec Foxes are arguably the cutest little predators you can own as a pet. These big-eared little critters are the smallest species of fox, and they have been domesticated for use in the pet trade.

    Fennec Foxes are opportunistic eaters, so they're okay eating just about anything that crosses their path. They will forage for edible plants, but they're just as happy snacking on eggs, reptiles, rodents, and insects.

    They aren't the most ferocious of predators out there, and there's virtually no chance your pet Fennec Fox will try to eat you. Still, they might terrify any rodents that wander into your home. 

    They are considered exotic pets, so they may not be allowed in your area. Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, and Washington don't allow people to keep them. In contrast, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas allow it, but with a permit.

    218 votes
  • 2
    176 VOTES

    Technically, cats and dogs are predators, but they've been domesticated. The progenitor species of all domesticated dogs, the Gray Wolf, has not been domesticated. Regardless, they are allowed to b kept as pets in some places, though keeping them requires a great deal of care and understanding of their needs.

    After all, wolves are pack animals, so they need to have a lot of love and attention, but putting them into a home with dogs probably won't fit this need... and it will probably lead to the death of the dogs!

    Wolves require a lot more room to run around than a domesticated dog. A typical wolf will need to move around a ten to 15 square mile area to maintain their health and fitness. 

    Wolf puppies are socialized with people after about 16 weeks, and in the early stages, they are similar to dogs. When they grow up though, that's a different story. Wolves get large, and they require more food. Kibble won't keep them healthy like a dog, so you'll need to feed them cuts of raw meat. Other than that, they can be trained and kept safely, but at the end of the day, they're still a wild animal, so keep that in mind if you want to get one. Additionally, it's illegal in most places to keep wolves as pets, so check your local laws before attempting to acquire one.

    176 votes
  • Depending on where you live, these big cats have different names, but they're all the same species. It is possible to tame a cougar, but don't ever lull yourself into the belief that they are domesticated — they most certainly are not. Still, it is legal to keep them as pets in some areas, and doing so requires a great deal of time and money.

    Only three states, Alabama, Nevada, and Wisconsin, allow for the ownership of a cougar without a permit. Other states do require permits and may limit ownership, so check your local laws before you get one. They do eat a lot of raw meat, so make sure you can afford to feed them before thinking about bringing one into your home.

    Cougars tend to make for playful pets, and in many ways, they are like giant versions of regular domestic cats. There are some differences, and they come in the form of incredibly long, sharp claws, and teeth. A playful tabby cat might scratch you, but a playful cougar scratch could send you to the hospital.

    156 votes
  • 4
    144 VOTES

    Jaguars are rather large wild cats that should not be kept as pets. That said, it is legal in some places to keep them as pets, though they require a great deal of care. Jaguars are able to take down adult crocodiles, so they're not to be trifled with. 

    A jaguar requires a great deal of land to roam, and like tigers and lions, they eat a lot of meat. In the wild, a jaguar will eat as much as 50 lbs. of food when they feed if there isn't a regular supply. In captivity, they eat less, but they can still consume around 30 lbs. of raw meat at every feeding.

    That costs a lot of money, and given the space requirements to keep them happy, most people can't keep them properly as pets. Like other big cats, jaguars aren't domesticated, but they can be tamed to a certain point.

    They might be fine around their primary caregiver but won't show any love or affection to anyone else. Few places allow people to own jaguars, but they are legal if they are registered in Missouri and Texas.

    144 votes
  • 5
    134 VOTES

    Non-Venomous Snakes

    All species of snake are predators, but the one that winds up in most people's homes is the Boa Constrictor. There are several species, and also Pythons that take up a lot of terrariums around the world, but the Boa is the pet of champions. The snakes live long lives, and if they are well-cared for, they make for docile and friendly pets.

    Feeding a Boa Constrictor is a bit different for a captive animal than it is for them in the wild. Pet Boas are usually fed pre-killed rats and mice, whereas a wild animal will hunt and kill its own food. 

    So long as they're well-fed and cared for, they make for amazing pets you can take on the go (in some places). Most states allow for their sale in the pet trade, so they aren't as exotic as they once were.

    Caring for a large snake requires a large enough enclosure to keep them comfortable, but depending on the size of the snake, that's not necessarily a large space. You don't want to keep them in glass cages as this makes regulating their heat and humidity a challenge, but other than that, they are surprisingly easy to care for.

    134 votes
  • 6
    135 VOTES

    Piranhas are some of the most notorious freshwater fish, so people naturally want to drop them into their aquariums. Their depiction in the movies doesn't really match up to reality, and while they do eat meat voraciously, they are predominantly active at night, and may not be as interesting as you initially thought.

    It is legal to own Red-Bellied Piranha in most places, but it is often highly regulated. One of the principal concerns is that people will put them in lakes and rivers, making them a dangerous invasive species. Kept in the home though, and it's a rather interesting fish.

    You can't keep these fish with other species of fish unless they are feeders... for obvious reasons. They are predators and will eat anything that swims along. Piranha are omnivorous and do require some of the same foods other fish eat. Worms and raw veggies like potato, zucchini, and spinach are a favored snack. Of course, you can drop in a chunk of raw beef or chicken as a tasty snack. Don't feed them something like goldfish -- if you want to feed your piranha a live fish, make sure it's one that they would normally eat in the wild, or you could cause serious gastrointestinal problems!

    One other point of interest: piranhas are expensive. You can expect to pay around $500 for one fish, and seeing as they do best while schooling, getting a good number of them into a tank is going to cost a lot of money.

    135 votes