12 Animals That Are Surprisingly Legal to Own as Pets in the US

You’ve probably heard a lot about how dangerous some types of pet animals are dogs, cats, and birds especially. You might think it’s best not to have any pets at all if you’re worried about their safety. However, there are plenty of other animals out there who don’t present nearly as much danger as popular household pets do.

In fact, many people choose to keep one or more of them around their homes and families for fun and companionship instead of pure fear of harm. We spoke with experts to find out which animals are considered most likely to be good pets for everyone. Here are just a few examples of pets that may surprise you when it comes to being safe, friendly, and legal.

● Chinchillas
● African Pygmy Goats (and Other Mini-Goats)
● Tasmanian Devils
● Komodo Dragons
● Beavers
● Kinkajous
● Marmosets
● Harp seals
● Ligers
● Harp seals
● Sloths
● Cockroaches

1. Chinchillas

These little rodents look cute and cuddly, but they also bite and scratch. They’re also prone to respiratory problems because they live outdoors and are used to breathing moist air. If you own chinchillas, make sure you get them from a reputable breeder.

Also know that although they’re not venomous, bites and scratches can break open the skin and cause infection. And since they eat hair and wool, you’ll need to buy special food. It’s worth noting they’re very small, only growing up to 4 inches tall. These facts should give you pause before picking up a fluffy friend.

2. African Pygmy Goats (and Other Mini-Goats)

Owning goats is great fun and rewarding, but they can be dangerous too. Like sheep, they chew on almost anything and will nibble away at things like shrubs and fences. They also have sharp horns, and kids won’t stop playing until mom tells them to. The same goes for adult males.

Female pygmy goats are usually kept inside, while male ones go outside, where they can become aggressive. Because of these dangers, owners must take extra care when owning mini-goats, including wearing protective clothing and goggles.

3. Tasmanian Devils

Devils are native to Australia, and Tasmania has its own variety called the Tasmanian devil. This animal is nocturnal and lives in burrows, but it’s still big enough that it shouldn’t be allowed near young children. Its sharp teeth and claws mean it can inflict serious injuries with relative ease. Tasmanian devils are known for their strong jaws and short tails, which makes them particularly dangerous.

Their saliva contains formic acid, which causes intense burning pain when it enters the eyes, mouth, and lungs. What’s more, Tasmanian devils are well-known escape artists. If they feel threatened, they’ll flee by digging under barbed wire fences or walls. So unless you want your yard overrun with these guys, leave them alone!

4. Komodo dragons

The largest lizard species in the world, Komodo dragons are native to Indonesia. These reptiles can grow up to 20 feet long (6 meters). They have long tongues and sharp fangs. Although Komodos are generally docile, they can attack humans if provoked. Since they have an insatiable appetite for meat, they prey on smaller lizards and rodents.

As such, they sometimes hunt down villagers and farmers. Komodo dragons are strict egg layers, which means they lay eggs every year. With females laying dozens of eggs per clutch, this leads to lots of hungry hatchlings and a potential breeding problem.

5. Beavers

There are two main reasons why you probably haven’t seen a beaver hanging around your neighborhood: First, they prefer fresh water, and second, they build dams that block streams and rivers. When building dams, beavers create ponds and wetlands that provide shelter for fish and amphibians.

Once completed, beavers use their dams to trap food, cut branches, and transport wood, helping trees survive longer. Beavers are solitary creatures and rarely interact with other members of their families. They’re active during daylight hours. Aside from eating large amounts of food, beavers’ primary purpose is to maintain the health of their habitat.

6. Kinkajous

Also called “honey badgers,” kinkajous are large rodents that resemble giant weasels. Their bodies and legs are covered with thick fur, and their faces sport prominent cheekbones. Despite their appearance, kinkajous are actually harmless to humans. They’re shy and mostly stay indoors, preferring to avoid contact with humans.
However, they do enjoy sleeping in piles of hay or dry grass. Unlike weasels, kinkajous are nocturnal. They sleep through the day and come out at night to search for food. Male kinkajous are larger than their female counterparts, and they weigh between 15 and 30 pounds (6.8 and 13 kilograms). Their diet includes insects, fruit, seeds, and vegetation.

7. Marmosets

Similar to tamarinds and capuchins, marmosets are small New World monkeys. They’re found throughout South America and Central America. These primates live in tropical forests and feed primarily on fruits, flowers, and leaves. One thing to note is that, unlike other monkey species, marmoset moms nurse their babies.

This behavior allows mothers to protect their offspring from predators, and they often climb up trees to access food high above ground level. Due to deforestation, however, marmosets now face extinction. To help preserve these unique animals, locals in South American countries work hard to restore their habitats and educate tourists on proper conservation practices.

8. Killer bees

Native to Africa, killer bees were brought over to North America by European settlers. Although their sting isn’t fatal, it can cause severe allergic reactions and swelling. They’re extremely territorial and aggressive, defending themselves against threats by surrounding their attackers and stinging them repeatedly.

A single hive produces millions of bees, each capable of killing a human within minutes after stings. On top of that, they tend to nestle close to populated areas, making it easy for them to spread disease. To prevent killer bee colonies from forming, local governments enforce strict laws regarding pesticides and insecticides.

9. Ligers

Although rare, ligers are the crossbreed of a tiger and a lion. They’re born without spots, which occurs naturally in lions. Most ligers have a white coat, black paws, tail tip, and mane. While ligers have normal canine teeth, their tigroid incisors allow them to rip apart flesh as a tiger would.
Ligers are typically kept in captivity, and some zoos have bred ligers successfully. This hybridization process takes years, though, so ligers aren’t commonly owned by private citizens.

10. Harp seals

Harp seals are medium-sized marine mammals that occupy coastal waters. Adult harp seals range between 8 and 24 feet (2.4 and 7 meters) long and weigh between 80 and 175 pounds (36 and 79 kilograms). They have stubby forelegs and webbed hindfeet, and their signature facial markings include elongated tufts of fur along their necks.

They spend time resting in shallow waters, where they graze on sea plants. In addition to consuming seaweed, they also consume clams, octopus and shellfish. Humpback whales actually feed on baby harp seals by mistake. Baby seals are vulnerable to predators like otters, sharks and killer whales.

11. Sloths

Like anteaters, sloths are herbivorous mammals native to Central and South America. They move slowly due to their heavy weight, which keeps their upper body low to the ground. They hang upside down by their front limbs, which are adapted for tree climbing.

Sloths have three stomach compartments and cannot digest cellulose, so they rely on fibrous plant material for nourishment. Sloths possess a vestibular system, allowing them to detect changes in gravity. They use this sense to determine whether or not to stretch out. Sloths hibernate during cold weather months, and they wake when temperatures increase.

12. Cockroaches

If cockroaches ever became extinct, humanity wouldn’t survive. Not only are they incredibly abundant, but they play key roles in nature. For example, cockroaches serve as vectors for spreading diseases. However, aside from that, they’re pretty beneficial. Roaches clean waste matter and decompose organic materials. They also recycle nutrients back into the environment and help regulate humidity levels. Cockroaches are classified under Insecta order Orthoptera, which includes crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts.