Living The Weirdest Animals You Can Legally Own In The US  

Donn Saylor
8.9k views 15 items

Exotic animals are fascinating, but owning something just because it's lovely or intriguing can be unwise. Sometimes, keeping exotic pets works out, but these animals are often taken out of their natural habitat, and it ends up hurting them. Depending on the animal and the area in which you live, you may legally be able to own a bizarre pet. But should you have them? Well, that's another matter entirely, left up to you and your conscience.

Animal ownership laws vary wildly state-to-state, which only serves to complicate an already complex issue. Certain state laws include specific regulations permitting or prohibiting a species, but local laws can supersede state rules and make allowances. And some exotic animals have been successfully domesticated over the years, which bodes well for anyone looking to adopt one of these rare pets. In certain instances, exotic animal owners have even been able to utilize strange pets as service animals

For all the aspiring bizarre pet owners out there, learn which of the weirdest pets people can legally own. 

Alligator is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Weirdest Animals You Can Legally Own In The US
Photo: Achim Raschka/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

The American alligator is native to Florida, Louisiana, and other parts of the American South. Whether you can legally own a gator is determined by the laws in these regions. In Florida, for instance, you can have an alligator after obtaining a license to do so from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service. Not surprisingly, alligators must have suitable enclosures that give them room to roam comfortably and enough water to submerge themselves completely.

Given the responsibilities involved, it's not uncommon for state or local animal welfare agencies to perform random, unannounced checks on the wellbeing of alligators living in private homes.

see more on Alligator
Ball python is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Weirdest Animals You Can Legally Own In The US
Photo: WingedWolfPsion/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

If you've ever dreamed of owning a ball python, you're in luck. In most states, it's legal to keep these sub-Saharan African natives. In fact, you don't even need a permit or license to have one in many places.

Some exceptions are New York and the city of Baltimore, where ball pythons are banned. Florida prohibits ball pythons, as well, unless you have a permit issued prior to 2010.

Also Ranked

#34 on The Best Pets for Kids

see more on Ball python
Bearded Dragon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Weirdest Animals You Can Legally Own In The US
Photo: Ltshears/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Bearded dragons are the (sort of) cute reptiles known for a throat pouch that protrudes out from underneath their chin - hence the name. Hailing from central Australia, "beardies," as they are lovingly called, are mostly docile and easy animals to care for as they often interact affectionately with humans.

They're legal to own in every state and can even be purchased from major retailers.

Also Ranked

#20 on The Best Pets for Kids

see more on Bearded Dragon
Capybara is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Weirdest Animals You Can Legally Own In The US
Photo: BS Thurner Hof/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Not many people are aware of the capybara, but it's actually the largest rodent in the world. Some can even weigh well over 100 lbs. Native to South America, these animals are surprisingly tame, but that alone isn't a valid reason to adopt one.

Capybaras are pack animals, so owning just one is not advised. Also, they're massive animals that require a lot of space and food, making them indoor-averse creatures. Legalities differ from state to state, but both Texas and Pennsylvania allow residents to own capybaras legally. 

see more on Capybara