I get strange enough looks when I tell people that I have 13 rats and a litter on the way; I can’t imagine strangers’ reactions to people who keep these truly unusual housepets! Here are five pets you might never think to keep at all, much less indoors, and five owners who do exactly that.
1. Indoor Ducks and Geese
Yes, that’s a duck. Yes, on its owners’ bed. And yes, indeed, it is wearing a diaper. As a matter of fact, ducks and geese trained to wear diapers from a young age make excellent housepets for the dedicated owners willing to raise them from the time they hatch, put up with some splats on the carpet before they’re old enough to diaper, and let them have the occasional swim in the bathtub. You can learn more about diapered ducks by visiting The Goose’s Mother and Father.
2. Prairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs were illegal as pets in the United States from 2003 until late 2008, and some states still prohibit them. However, where there is no state ban in place, it is now once again legal to keep Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs in captivity. They are affectionate and intelligent pets with a personality somewhere between a more active guinea pig and a small, burrowing dog. However, I recommend looking for a prairie dog rescue rather than encouraging the removal of these animals from their natural habitat, where they are needed to help prairie ecosystems flourish. In addition, it is worth noting that these are very difficult pets to keep happy– a great deal of time and money must be invested in their care. Learn more about pet Prairie Dogs here.
3. Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes are adorable, but they aren’t pets for the faint of heart: While they can and do live indoors with dedicated owners, and show affection to humans, they rarely litter train completely, and often dig destructively on carpet or wood floors. If you think a Fennec is the right pet for you, try to spend some time with one at a wildlife rescue or a breeder’s home first to ensure you’re up to the demands of ownership. Fennec foxes are becoming progressively more threatened in the wild, so please choose a captive bred fox if you do purchase one. Learn more about pet Fennec foxes here.
4. Pet Possums
Is it so cute it’s ugly, or so ugly it’s cute? I’m not sure, but possums, though often kept as pets, aren’t meant to live in captivity. I don’t recommend keeping an opossum; they are wild animals, and those which seem like friendly pets are usually in poor health and unable to survive in the wild. Healthy possums will take off and never look back the first time you set them down outside! However, an injured or orphan possum may need your help to survive; if you find one, immediately contact a wildlife rehabilitator. In some states they may be able to help you keep the opossum until it’s ready for release. For more information on captive possums, click here.
5. Pet Octopus
Goldfish, snail, turtle… octopus? Cephalopods, including the handsome and intelligent octopus, are becoming more and more common in home aquariums as aquarists learn how to better meet their needs. These saltwater dwellers aren’t for the average hobbyist: They need live food, habitat enrichment, and a big tank of water matching very specific parameters. However, for the truly exceptional owner, an octopus could be the most interactive and engaging critter ever to live in a fish tank. Learn about keeping octopuses and other cephalopods here.