When most people adopt a pet, they get a dog, cat or fish. These animals are great, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more unique?
If you’re considering taking a walk on the wild side, find out how much it costs to own the most exclusive pets. You definitely won’t be able to adopt these animals from a shelter.
Cost to Buy: $55,000
Other Costs: $250 monthly for food
Camels have been transporting humans on long journeys for centuries, but they must be properly trained. They can kick, spit and bite if not handled properly, so buyer beware.
Owning a camel requires deep pockets and enough land for adequate exercise (generally around a half acre). Buying one will set you back around $55,000, and you’ll spend about $250 per month on hay. Camels are social creatures, so purchasing at least two for companionship is advisable, but check Born Free USA first for ownership rules and regulations.
Cost to Buy: $20,000
Other Costs: $900 yearly for care
A cross between an African Serval and a domesticated house cat, the Savannah cat has the loyalty of a dog, with the independence of a cat. Prices vary according to the amount of Serval in the cat, with the largest percentage averaging $12,000 to $16,000 for males and $15,000 to $20,000 for females. GOBankingRates found that Savannah cats are among most expensive cat breeds in the world.
Nutrition requirements and other costs are similar to those of the average cat, so plan to spend around $340 to $900 per year in total. Ownership rules for hybrid cats vary by state and municipality, so check with your local governing body before your pet adoption.
Cost to Buy: $16,000
Other Costs: $1,000 yearly for care
Not your average pet store bird, the hard-to-breed Palm Cockatoo comes at an average price of $16,000. Expect to spend around $1,000 per year on maintenance costs.
Fun, intelligent animals to own, do note that Palm Cockatoos require a lot of attention, scream loudly and may become aggressive toward certain family members. The Palm Cockatoo is listed on the CITES — Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — list, so you’ll need either a permit or a certificate of captive breeding to own one.
Cost to Buy: $12,000
Other Costs: $2,000 for a cage; $60 monthly on food; up to $500 per vet bill
The Hyacinth Macaw is a $12,000 regal bird that can reach a height of up to 40 inches and a 60-inch wingspan. Extremely strong, these birds can be deadly to smaller parrots, but are easily trained and very affectionate with humans.
Plan to spend around $2,000 for a cage, $60 per month on food and approximately $200 to $500 for a veterinary exam if the bird gets sick. Be sure your bird is weaned and, while ownership is legal in most parts of the U.S., check with your state first to learn the rules.
Cost to Buy: $9,000
Timid creatures not typically found in herds, a bongo can be yours for around $7,000 to $9,000. The largest and heaviest forest antelope, a full-grown bongo can weigh anywhere from 500 to 900 pounds, so don’t get one unless you have a lot of land for it to roam.
A bongo is not listed as prohibited wildlife in Kentucky, so if you live there, you might be able to own one. Check with both your state and local municipality before your pet adoption.
Cost to Buy: $8,500
Other Costs: up to $3,500 for a cage; $25 per week on food
Often used in entertainment due to their highly intelligent nature, Capuchins tend to exert aggressive behavior. Unless you’re a monkey expert, this might not be the best pet, and even then, carefully weigh the decision.
If you do adopt a Capuchin as a pet, it will cost $3,500 to $8,500. Plan to spend around $650 to $3,500 on a cage and $25 per week on food. Capuchins are legal in Tennessee, but not all states, so check with yours before adopting.
Cost to Buy: $5,900
Other Costs: up to $3,700 for a cage and habitat; at least $25 weekly for food
The world’s only nocturnal monkey, the owl monkey can be a great companion if you also prefer to keep nighttime hours. Since they’re considered exotic animals, consult your state’s fish and game department prior to adopting your pet to make sure it’s legal in your area.
Budget approximately $5,900 for your owl monkey, and buy from a certified breeder to ensure it’s properly cared for and socialized. Some of the ownership expenses you’ll incur include a cage — $650 to $900 for an indoor cage or $1,300 to $3,500 for an outdoor cage — around $100 to $200 to create a welcoming habitat and at least $25 per week for food.
Cost to Buy: $4,500
Other Costs: up to $900 annually for care
Domestic by nature, a Bengal cat looks like an exotic animal but has the loving demeanor of a standard tabby cat. Curious, friendly and a fan of human interaction, these brainy cats have the smarts of the Siamese breed.
Show-quality Bengals are among the most expensive cats, costing $3,000 to $4,500, while kittens come at a price of $1,000 to $2,000, depending on their markings. Caring for these eight to 15-pound exotic pets isn’t much different than a standard cat, so expect annual costs to total roughly $340 to $900.
Cost to Buy: $4,000
Other Costs: up to $4,000 for a cage; $65 for diapers; $25 per week for food
Also known as a pocket monkey, this breed can be a little naughty, so don’t adopt one unless you have a lot of patience. Mischievous by nature, it’s best to buy one from a certified breeder because they work to socialize them from birth.
Before you adopt a pet finger monkey, check with your state’s fish and game department, because ownership rules vary throughout the country. Finger monkeys can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, and you should also be prepared to pay up to $4,000 for an indoor cage, $65 for a three- to four-month supply of diapers and a minimum of $25 per week for food.
Cost to Buy: $4,000
Other Costs: up to $450 monthly for care
Domesticated wallabies have personalities that can be described as a mix between a dog and a cat — they’ll follow you around and even get along with other non-aggressive pets. They’re legal to own in Tennessee, but check with your state first before getting attached to one of these adorable creatures.
Plan to spend approximately $1,000 to $4,000 to purchase your Wallaby. Exotic animals aren’t cheap to care for, so make sure you can budget around $225 to $450 for its monthly expenses.
Cotton Top Tamarin
Cost to Buy: $4,000
Other Costs: $25 per week for food
You can bring a cotton top tamarin monkey into your family for about $4,000. As long as you have a Class III permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, owning a cotton top is legal in Florida, but that’s not the case in all states, so check with yours first.
Budget around $25 per week to feed these social, playful animals. Made sure you’re buying from a legitimate breeder, because the cotton top tamarin is an endangered species made vulnerable by the illegal pet trade.
Cost to Buy: $3,500
Other Costs: $7,400 yearly for care
The most recognizable of the lemur group, ringtail lemurs can cost around $3,500 on average. Not only is their initial cost expensive, but you’ll have to budget around $7,400 annually to care for your pet, too.
Actress Kirstie Alley owns 14 of them and told People magazine they have Zen personalities and are safe and loving with people. Available in Texas and Florida with a permit, ringtail lemurs are illegal in many states, so check your local guidelines before buying.
Cost to Buy: $3,000
Other Costs: up to $3,000 for a habitat
The cost to adopt a pet two-toed sloth runs from $1,500 to $3,000. Mostly solitary animals, sloths have a mild disposition and don’t bite defensively.
It takes food six to 21 days to pass through their digestive systems, so you won’t have to spend a ton on feeding them, but building a habitat for your sloth will cost $300 to $3,000. Sloth ownership laws vary by state, so check with your state’s exotic animal governing body for specifics.
Cost to Buy: $3,000
Other Costs: $250 for a cage; $200 for spay or neuter; $10 per week for food
The price of kinkajous varies, so plan to spend anywhere from $750 to $3,000 to get your pet. Other expenses include around $250 for a cage, $200 for spaying and neutering and roughly $10 per week for food.
Kinkajous often have playful, sweet personalities, but note that they do not re-home well. They’re legal in Florida with a permit but not in every state, so check with yours for details.
Cost to Buy: $3,000
Other Costs: $9 per day for food
Kangaroos are known to attack when they feel panicked or threatened, so they’re probably not the best choice for a pet — especially if you have a dog. If you still want one, you’ll need to budget for a purchase price of roughly $2,000 to $3,000 and $9 per day to feed it.
It’s legal to own a kangaroo in Kentucky, but you’ll need a permit if transporting your pet in from an out-of-state location. Rules regarding exotic animal ownership aren’t as relaxed everywhere else, so check with your state first.
Cost to Buy: $2,500
Other Costs: up to $10,000 per year for care
If you want to be like Mike Tyson, buy a $2,500 tiger cub. The former professional boxer famously spent his fortune, including $4,000 per month on his three tigers.
Unlike Tyson, however, you must make sure tigers are legal in your area and obtain any necessary permits before bringing them into your home. Tiger cubs are adorable, but they will grow up to be more than 600 pounds, and the cost of yearly expenses can be as high as $10,000. Domesticating them is possible when they are young, but they are unlikely to retain that training as they reach adulthood, so proceed with caution.
Cost to Buy: $2,500
Other Costs: $2,400 per year
Not recommended for families with young children, the fennec fox is a social animal that requires a lot of attention. Expect to pay around $2,500 for your pet, with total costs reaching around $24,000 over a 10-year span (though fennec foxes can live up to 15 years).
As with all exotic animals, check with your state to make sure you’re allowed to keep a fennec fox as a pet. Ownership with a permit is legal in a variety of states, including Delaware, Florida, Indiana and New York, but outlawed in many others.
Cost to Buy: $2,000
Other Costs: up to $60 per month for care; up to $300 per vet bill
A cross between a Juliana and a potbelly pig, a micro piglet can be yours for roughly $1,500 to $2,000. They get along well with other animals and typically grow no larger than knee height, making them an ideal pet.
Generally speaking, caring for a pig costs around $20 to $60 per month, plus approximately $100 to $300 on veterinary care. They’re not the most exotic pets, but pigs are considered livestock, so check your state ownership laws prior to purchasing.
Cost to Buy: $1,150
Other Costs: $900 per year for care
Affectionate, caring and natural people lovers, the miniature donkey is an ideal pet. You can have one of your very own for $600 to $1,150.
They’re not legal to own in New York City, so verify the laws in your city before adopting one into your family. If you get the green light and have enough land for it to play, plan to spend around $900 annually to care for it.
Cost to Buy: $1,100
Other Costs: 50 cents and up per week for food
You can get a crocodile for $1,100 or less, depending on size, but buyer beware. Crocs can’t be tamed and should only be considered as pets by those extremely experienced with reptiles and who have the space to own one. Feeding a tiny dwarf crocodile costs just 50 cents per week, but costs increase with the size of the animal.
Considered dangerous animals, crocodile ownership is outlawed in California and many other states. You’ll likely need a permit even if your state allows it.
Cost to Buy: $1,100
Other Costs: $1,000 for vet bills
Otherwise known as a giant hamster, a Capybara comes at an initial price of around $1,100 per animal. Vet bills can easily run between $600 and $1,000, and they eat 6 to 10 pounds of food per day. Buying just one isn’t a good idea because they’re pack animals, so prepare to make room for at least two in your home.
Weighing in at an average of 77 to 146 pounds, they have a friendly demeanor but need a living space with both water and mud. Most states require Capybara owners to have a license, among other paperwork, so check with your local governing bodies.
Cost to Buy: $900
Other Costs: $105 per week
Approximately twice the size of a domestic cat, bobcats are elusive animals native to North America. They mainly prey on other wild animals but have been known to kill livestock and domestic pets.
They’re illegal in many states, including California and New York, but if you live in others, such as Nevada or Wisconsin, you can get one with a license or permit for around $900. Not cheap to own, caring for newborns and young bobcats cost roughly $105 per week.
Silver or Arctic Fox
Cost to Buy: $850
Other Costs: $75 weekly for food
If you want to add a silver fox or an arctic fox to your pack, it will cost you roughly $650 to $850. Budget $75 per week for food. When properly domesticated from birth, foxes can be loving household pets.
Assuming the fox isn’t taken from the wild, you can get a Class III permit for legal ownership in Florida. Other states aren’t as welcoming to these exotic animals, so check before you adopt a pet.
Cost to Buy: $500
Other Costs: $150 for a cage; $50 for accessories; $10 per month for food
Sold at the mall and by breeders, one look from a sweet sugar glider will melt your heart. Five-to-seven-inches when full-grown, these pets cost $250 to $500 to adopt. It’s illegal to own a sugar glider in California and many other states, so check with your department of fish and wildlife prior to adopting.
Plan to spend around $150 on a cage for your sugar glider, $50 for a wheel for it to play on and around $10 per month on food. Vet care is also very inexpensive, as they need no vaccinations because they carry no known diseases.
Cost to Buy: $400
Other Costs: $300 to spay or neuter
Considered loving and obedient pets, domesticated skunks are de-scented to remove their stink. Keeping a skunk as a pet is illegal in many states, but allowed in some, including Florida and Indiana, with a permit.
The cost to adopt a pet skunk averages $300 to $400. Plan to spend around $300 to spay or neuter your skunk.
Cost to Buy: $400
Other Costs: $200 per month
Also known as a Patagonian mara, these 18-to-35-pound rodents are distant relatives of the guinea pig. You can have one of your own for $300 to $400, with maintenance costs totaling approximately $200 per month.
If socialized from a young age, they can be friendly pets but are best as outdoor farm animals. You might need a permit, but they’re legal to own in Connecticut. Be sure to check your state’s rules before adopting.
Cost to Buy: $250
Other Costs: Up to $8 monthly for food; $30 to $60 per vet visit
Anything but prickly to their beloved owners, hedgehogs can be sweet pets when properly socialized. Plan to spend around $250 to bring one into your home.
One of the more affordable exotic pets, food costs around $5 to $8 per month, and the average vet visit comes with a $30 to $60 bill. It is legal to own a hedgehog in most places in the U.S., with the exception of Maine, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania or one of the five boroughs of New York City.
Cost to Buy: $150
Other Costs: $35 per month
They’re classified as exotic animals, but chinchillas can be purchased at PetSmart for $150. They’re legal without a permit in most states, but it’s still wise to check the local rules before you adopt a pet.
Nocturnal by nature, chinchillas are generally active and playful. Expect to spend about $35 per month caring for your pet.
Cost to Buy: $40
Other Costs: Up to $600 for habitat; $15 per week for food; $100 veterinary costs
Unless you live in Hawaii, you can purchase a bearded dragon in a pet shop like PetSmart for around $40. Largely considered one of the best exotic pets in the lizard family, bearded dragons are alert, friendly and mild-mannered.
The bearded dragon’s purchase price is notably low for a pet, but other expenses add up quickly. Building a proper habitat for a bearded dragon costs roughly $400 to $600, weekly food expenses average $5 to $15 and veterinary care starts around $100.
Cost to Buy: $40
Other Costs: Up to $450 per year
Given the name because they coil into a ball when confronted, the ball python is a friendly snake known as the most forgiving to new handlers. Legal in most areas, they’re outlawed in places like New York City and Hawaii, so check with your local pet store before adopting.
An exotic pet without the hefty price tag, ball pythons are available at PetSmart. Annual costs to own a snake average $250 to $450.
More on Animals and Pets:
- Why Adopting a Shelter Pet Is Good for Your Wallet and Your Soul
- 12 Jobs That Let You Play With Animals All Day
- Tax Breaks for Pet Owners You Can Actually Get
About the Author
Laura is a writer with nearly 10 years of experience in marketing and personal finance. She is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in personal finance, higher education, legal matters and marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.