As a child, I considered an "exotic" pet to be anything that wasn't a dog or a cat. Before I was born, my dad had a pet duck named Patrick. I thought that was weird but cool.

Later, Mom and Dad bought us a couple of ducklings and I thought THAT was exotic. They caught colds and died. No more ducks.


But we really DID have an exotic pet. When our neighbor, Mrs. Bowman, passed away, she left her spider monkey, Joe, to Mom in her will. That was a lot of fun for about 10 minutes. Joe really took to Mom and HATED everyone else. He slapped me in the face when I tried to talk to her one time. But then he bit my dad's hand and that was the end of Joe.

And that's fine. Monkeys are way too unpredictable to keep as pets, and many of them are too DANGEROUS to live in your home. And it's a moot point; Kentucky outlawed domestic ownership of monkeys several years ago. But if you DO want an exotic pet, you have options, although a good many of them are GREAT big.



I mean, it's one thing to invite your dog to sleep with you in bed, but it's quite another to do the same thing with an American bison. Yes, you can legally own one in Kentucky, but the Bison Producers of Alberta don't recommend it:

Bison tend to make poor pets. Although they have been domesticated, they retain a lot of their wild instincts. They can be tamed but  when they are frightened they usually resort to their "flight or fight" response in order to save their skin. They are difficult to  tame to a level that I would consider a pet.

They make good burgers, though.



Ostriches, however, do NOT, in my humble opinion. But ostriches are not on this list. Ratites, however, ARE, and I don't understand why because they are a blanket term for creatures SUCH AS ostriches, cassowaries, and emus, among others. First, you want no part of a cassowary, considered the most dangerous bird on Earth.

And I've seen differing opinions regarding ostriches. Hastings Ostrich Farms in Australia says, "Go for it," but make sure they're OLDER ostriches:

Have you ever considered having a 9ft tall bird as a pet? Well, you should! Ostriches are a unique pet which offer a new experience for the owner. Ostriches require a small amount of land to graze and will eat grain, grass, and silage. Older ostriches are better suited as pets over chicks as chicks are fickle to grow out and older birds are low maintenance.

But Animal Wised offers a much different take:

They are also very territorial and aggressive animals. Domestic ostriches are somewhat smaller and more docile, but their temperament and relationship with human beings do not make them very compatible as pets.

If you MUST experiment with owning a ratite as a pet, maybe you should go with an emu, but Pet Keen does advise approaching that decision with caution:

While emus can make lovely pets, they do have specific needs that will require a great deal of your time and patience. They can be quite affectionate and gentle birds, but they might be rather moody and aggressive if provoked.
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How about a yak? When I saw the big bovine beast on the list, I was a little surprised. But after looking at one for a while, it occurred to me how much they resemble garden-variety COWS. And that's probably why they get a thumbs up. Just make sure you have plenty of space. Yes, it's best if you live on a farm. You can also get a little state fair mileage out of them, according to Profitable Livestock:

These animals love the cold, dry conditions and need no special shelter or diets. Yak calves, cows and steers easily become halter trained, and do make good pets or 4H project animals.



Speaking of large animals, I happen to KNOW alpacas and llamas--which are closely related--make good pets; I've known people who have owned them. And one of our favorite things to do when I was living in Bowling Green going to school was to go into one of the city's neighborhoods where a family was keeping llamas and just observe them from the road. We never trespassed, but I'll admit we wanted to. And they had a LOT of them.



Finally, we get to the one that really came as a surprise, but then it occurred to me that I've never heard any stories about ROGUE camels.

Yes, camels make the cut of exotic animals you can own as pets in Kentucky. And why not, I guess? Even though they aren't in the same family, it might not be that different from owning a horse, although I don't know, firsthand. But there are those who do, and they RAVE about dromedaries:

Camels are beautiful, huge, strong animals that make wonderful pets. They are intelligent and sociable, making them loving companions at home. However, the proper care for a camel is needed in order to care properly for these magnificent animals.

Well, good Lord, now I want one. I don't know if our cat would approve, though.

There are many other exotic creatures on the list, but I felt the rest of them made perfect sense. Parrots, mynahs, chinchillas (which look just like gerbils), and many others are tailor-made for pet ownership.

And if I've inspired, let me wish you good luck with those ostriches.

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

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