Being a pet owner is one of life's greatest joys. Although it's a big commitment and a lot of work, the experience teaches you a lot of good and beneficial things. A loving pet has the ability to convert even the most anti-animal person into an animal lover, and the bond between humanand pet can be just as powerful as a bond between family members.
Choosing the right animal companion is of the utmost importance when you decide to become a pet owner. Above all, it needs to be an animal that effectively compliments your lifestyle and rhythm. Cats and dogs are the standard, and there's already tons of variety in that; but did you know that there are a couple of wild or exotic animals you could actually own as pets? These animals originate anywhere from the tropics of South America to your own backyard. They may not be the best choices for first-time pet owners, but it's still pretty cool to know that they even exist as options.
This list was compiled simply for your interest and is intended to be an informal exploration of a rather hazy part of Canadian law. Every province has different regulations (at both the provincial and municipal levels) regarding the ownership of exotic pets. Some have strict ban lists of specific species, while others are more lenient or require permits. Always conduct your own research when inquiring about any animal. Here's a very useful interactive infographic by CBC and a quick description of exotic pet laws in Canada by storybookmonkeys.org to get you started.
Without further adieu, here are 11 odd animals (that are either exotic or wild, native Canadian species) that you could legally own as pets:
Capybaras are basically giant hamsters (and when I say giant, I mean larger-than-a-mid-size-dog giant). They originate from South America and can weigh up to 100 lbs. Although they typically make great pets, they aren't the easiest to take care of. They require lots of attention and a few special items such as a pool for swimming and non-toxic grass for grazing. They also tend to get fairly aggressive, and their sharp teeth make them unsuitable for young kids.
Sugar gliders are marsupials, just like kangaroos and koala bears. They are named as such because they possess a gliding membrane, stretching from their wrists to their ankles, that lets them glide through the air. They roughly have the same intelligence as a dog and can be trained in similar ways (e.g. be called upon by name, perform tricks, etc). One particularly important characteristic about sugar gliders is that they are colony animals — a sugar glider must live in the company of other sugar gliders or else it can die of depression. Guess you gotta buy more than one or two!
Wallabies are particularly popular pets in Alberta. They are roughly 30”-36” tall and can weigh up to 50 lbs upon maturity. Like dogs and cats, they come in a range of different fur colours and patterns and are also trainable to an extent. Wallabies also require a playpen during their upbringing, which provides them with a place of comfort, privacy, and safety. Most owners attach a pouch at the side of the playpen for the wallaby to jump into at any given time.
Mini donkeys are far better options for families that live in rural areas than those that live in cities. They require open fields for exercise and grazing, and need to be provided with hay and a salt lick for maintenance. Mini donkeys can grow to a height of 36" and have a lifespan between 25 to 35 years! If Donkey from Shrek is any indication of what it's like to own a donkey as a pet, then it's probably a whole lot of fun.
Hedgehogs are a spiky alternative to the common hamster. They are characterized by a prickly outer skin that can be sensitive to the touch, and are relatively shy creatures that do not typically require too much attention. Maintenance of a hedgehog is fairly simple, and involves regular cleaning of its cage and feeding. They also tend to be nocturnal, and will spend most of the day curled up into a ball sleeping.
Pygmy goats are adorable pets that have a whole lot of energy and spend a lot of time prancing around. Recently, Canadian's have started adopting pygmy goats as urban pets although, in some areas like Richmond, B.C., goats are only allowed in agricultural areas. In other areas, pet ownership of a pygmy goat is allowed but one cannot sell its milk or cheese. Pygmy goats are typically satisfied in an average-sized backyard but can be problematic with the neighbours due to the fact that they tend to be a little noisy.
Potbellied pigs are becoming so common in households nowadays that it's starting to become less odd to own them as pets. Like dogs, they are intelligent and can be trained a wide variety of commands and tricks. However, they must be tended to frequently because they get easily bored and become destructive when they are unoccupied with things to do. Potbellied pigs require a wide open space for exercise and also lots and lots of food.
Fennec foxes are known to be relatively friendly companions. Personality-wise, they tend to have the independence of a cat but the energy of a dog (when they're awake!). Even though the bulk of their time is spent sleeping, caring for a fennec fox is still very time-consuming and involves a lot of playtime, socialization, and feeding. Like dogs, fennec foxes also have a tendency to bark, so they may not be the ideal pet for those living with neighbours nearby.
Servals are Savannah cats that are allowed as pets in most provinces, but ownership is restricted to certain generations only. For example, in Alberta, only F4 generations and lower (e.g. F5, F6, etc.) are permitted as pets. Serval cats have a fur pattern that is similar to cheetahs and can weigh up to 40 pounds upon maturity. They are typically lazy during the day and more active at night time. Large, secure spaces, warm temperatures, and dead rodents for food are necessities for taking care of serval cats.
Hyacinth macaws are one of several breeds of parrots that are on the endangered species list, so whether or not there are laws in place in Canada to regulate its availability for pet ownership, it probably wouldn't be the best idea to take one on. Besides, these birds are expensive, costing more than $10,000 a bird! Nevertheless, hyacinth macaws would make pretty cool companions, since they are extremely sweet and gentle.
Muntjac deer have origins in Southeast Asia. The Leaf Muntjac is the smallest breed, weighing from 10 to 20 lbs and growing to an average height of 20 inches. They can be litter trained like cats and can be taught to respond to their name when they are called. Both indoor and outdoor environments are suitable for Muntjacs; however, in the latter case, the environment must be safely secured as Muntjac have a notorious reputation as an invasive species.
Exotic pet laws are always rapidly changing in Canada. The animals included in this list may be in the process of being banned from ownership or are already no longer legally available to own. Please refer to the local exotic pet policies in your area for further confirmation.
Source: Animal Planet