A regular pet might not be your cup of tea, but it’s best to steer clear of wild animals as pets.
It can be tempting to adopt a beautiful animal that you’ve found in the wild, but that’s never a good idea. These animals may be dangerous, wild and unpredictable, and many organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association strongly caution against keeping them as pets.
Here are 3 types of animals that people keep as pets — but really shouldn’t.
1. Wolf Hybrids
A wolf-dog hybrid is exactly what it sounds like: a mixture of dog and wolf. While this might sound fine at first, we need to think about the very real differences between dogs and wolves.
Thousands of years of domestication and breeding by humans have taken dogs far away from their wolf roots. “Domestication is the process by which a wild animal adapts to living with humans by being selectively bred by humans over thousands of years,” explains the International Wolf Center. “Through this process, a dog’s behavior, life cycle and physiology have become permanently altered from that of a wolf.”
The hybrid is a mixture of dog and wolf, making his behavior unpredictable. He may act more domesticated — but he also may act more wolfish in behavior, making him hard to control.
As wolves age, they begin to compete for the position of leader or alpha, causing sudden aggression or bold behavior. Wolves also tend to stubbornly mark their territory and do not care if their territory is inside your home. House-training is difficult at best — and impossible at worst — whereas a dog can be trained to eliminate outdoors relatively simply.
Hybrids also tend to need a great deal of attention and interaction so they don’t become destructive and possibly aggressive.
2. Exotic Cats
Exotic cats of all sizes are often kept as pets here in the United States.
Some breeds of exotic cat are legal and, with the right person who is wholly dedicated to their care, things can work fine. However, too many people purchase an exotic cat because it’s “cool” or “cute” and then fall apart when they realize the tremendous amount of work these animals require.
Exotic cats include tigers, bobcats, servals, ocelots and more. All of these can be dangerous, and the bigger, more territorial cats are more than capable of killing a human being. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) strongly discourages keeping these “dangerous animals,” adding that the “care and handling of these wild and exotic cats should be left to trained professionals who have the knowledge and means to maintain them properly.”
This doesn’t seem like the best idea on the human’s part:
3. Alligators and Crocodiles
This seems like a no-brainer, but there are people who keep alligators or crocs as pets. These reptiles grow to more than 14 feet in length. They are incredibly strong and much faster than they look.
“Perhaps you think a crocodilian can be tamed? Think again,” says Crocodillian.com. “Most people expect that regular handling will reduce their aggressive reptile into a placid lapdog, but they come away disappointed. While some species can become more tolerant than others, this often requires many years of hard work, and most realize that crocodilians are hands-off captives in the best interests of the crocodilian and the owner.”
Incredibly, people keeping these animals as pets may tape their mouths shut so that the “pet” can safely be around people. That doesn’t sound remotely humane to me.
If you love reptiles, there are many other types out there that would make much better and safer pets.
Wild Animals Should Stay Wild
The behavior of exotic and wild animals is not suited for human cohabitation. They will attack, defend, mark territory, roam, struggle and escape.
The CDC also warns that wild and exotic animals can transmit diseases to humans — with sometimes fatal results.
Lastly, when you look to obtain a wild animal as a pet, it’s likely you’re not going to find one at your local shelter. This means that many exotics and wild animals are captured in the wild, exposed to inhumane and puppy mill-like conditions and then shipped to the United States or other countries.
Let wild animals stay in the wild. There are millions of dogs, cats and even smaller exotics just waiting for you to adopt them.