Can You Keep Wild Animals As Pets? 5 Important Facts

The demand for wild animals as pets is on the rise. This is spurred by the videos on the internet that showcase how adorable these animals are. In a few cases, the owners of these animals have posted pics showing them cuddling these seemingly dangerous animals without fear.

With a quick search on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram will open you up to millions of videos and photos showcasing people playing with ball pythons, raccoons and other dangerous wild animals.

These posts are often accompanied by thousands of likes and shares that will convince you how normal it is to have wild animals for pets. Some of the commonly domesticated wild animals worldwide include snakes, tortoises, iguanas, birds, non-human primates, and even tigers.

So, is it a good idea to keep a wild animal as pet just to show off on social media? Should you get a dangerous, rare animal to take photos and increase your online audience?

Wild animals should not be kept as pets, not only because they poses a high level of danger to humans, but it is also cruel thing to do. On top of that, collecting an animal from the wild can endanger the species. 

Below are a few facts you should keep in mind if you are thinking of getting a wild animal for your pet.

Why Wild Animals Should Not Be Pets

There are several reasons why wild animals should remain just that, living in the wild. Below are some reasons out forward by the specialists on this subject:

– It is Dangerous

It is undeniable that baby wild animals are quite adorable. With this realization, the idea of raising a wild animal seems exciting and tempting. Even so, wild animals are very unpredictable and might become dangerous in a flash.

There are many stories about wild animals that have been brought up as pets but then attack and injure their owners when they are older. Even small animals like wild squirrels can give you a deadly scratch or bite when their instinct kicks in.

Remember that a wild animal has through the ages evolved into an independent being that is suited to survive its tough natural environment. Irrespective of how many years you have spent with your pet, you cannot erode its instinct to survive in hostility.

If it ever feels threatened, the animal will revert to its instinct to protect itself. As such, when you take a wild animal as a pet, you are in constant danger of getting attacked.

– It is Illegal

In most jurisdictions, it is illegal to own an animal that naturally lives in the wild like a crow, squirrel or deer unless you are taking it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center after finding it. It is also illegal to rehabilitate an orphaned, injured or sick wild animal if you are not registered by the state to do so.

Most states also prohibit their residents from owning wild animals that are potentially dangerous like bears, tigers, venomous snakes, large cats and spiders. Ownership of wild animals is allowed in some cases but is often very heavily regulated to minimize animal smuggling.

– It Poses a Health Risk

There are several health risks you will expose yourself and your household to when you decide to live with a wild animal. Most of these animals carry zoonotic diseases like monkeypox, salmonellosis, and herpes-B that can be transmitted to humans.

For instance, according to research, 80-90% of macaque monkeys carry the Simian B or Herpes-B virus that is harmless to them but fatal in humans.

The monkeys transmit it in their genital secretions or saliva during breeding and when they are ill or under stress. Furthermore, 90% of reptile feces contain salmonella.

– Habituation Concerns

Habituating is the process by which an animal will get gradually used to situations that it would normally avoid. To a large extent, it centers on giving a wild animal the living conditions to which it is used in the wild.

Due to the unpredictable nature of wild animals, it is hard to habituate them when kept as pets. This is because it is largely impossible to accurately mirror the natural living conditions of an animal despite your best efforts. As such, it is hard for your pet to be as comfortable in captivity as it would be in the wild.

– It Endangers the Species

The appetite for wild animals as pets has fueled the illegal capture and trade of these animals. There are millions of animals that die annually as they are being transported to many exotic pet shops worldwide in conditions that are ill-suited for them.

By picking a wild animal for a pet, you are endangering its species since it is often not allowed to breed and there is the risk of its death in transit.

Can Wild Animals Be Domesticated?

Yes, wild animals can be domesticated. Even so, this is a process that will take centuries to achieve within an animal species.

For instance, people have domesticated cats and dogs for ages for them to be the lovable animals we know now. You cannot simply pick a wild animal and hope to love it into domestication.

Which Animals Make Good Pets?

The best options for pets are domestic cats, domestic rice or mice, common hamsters, domestic chinchillas, domestic rabbits, dogs and guinea pigs. Tropical fish picked from sustainable wild populations can also make good options for your home aquarium.

You can also settle for canaries, cockatiels, pigeons, doves, parakeets, frogs, lizards and tortoises that have been captured and bred responsibly.


You might have the best intentions when picking a wild animal for your pet. Most people erroneously believe that these animals need rescuing from their natural habitats. If you have a wild animal for your pet or are considering getting one, the tidbits above have hopefully changed your mind about it.

If you have a wild animal in your home, consider taking it to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center. Here, the animal will be evaluated before professionals care for it and sometimes release it into the wild.

Do not simply release your exotic pet into the wild because it can barely survive on its own.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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