Some people love their pets so much that they treat them like children, and for lavish pet owners money spent on their baby is no object. For the rich pet lovers around the world a simple dog or cat is no longer seen as the pet du jour. Instead, rare and unique animals like silver foxes are becoming favourite pets of the rich and famous. Silver foxes, or sibfoxes as they’re known, have just recently become domesticated following years of experiments in Siberia, and with price tags of up to $7,000 USD these cute critters are really only fitting for those with massive bank accounts and money to burn.
If dangerous wild animals like foxes can be tamed and kept as pets, who knows what the future will hold for pet ownership? Most obviously, it seems that sooner or later other fox breeds will be kept as pets, too. Once anybody can afford a pet fox, the rich will have to find something new and unique to keep on the cutting edge of pet ownership. These days, it’s hard to believe that dogs and cats were once wild – now there are 179 million of these animals living as pets in the United States alone. As of 2012, 47% of households in the US had at least one dog while 46% of households had at least one cat. Animal rights organisations may have some concerns over the process of domesticating wild animals, while environmentalists are also worried about the effect this will have on the natural world. However, the human demand for animal company combined with our natural inclination to novelty means the domestication of wild animals is an inexorable trend – and increasingly strange animals are currently undergoing the process of domestication.
Here, we’re taking a look at 10 exotic animals that look set to be domesticated in the future. Will it be a cute and cuddly animal, or will it be some strange amphibian or reptile that will become the next family pet?
For nearly a century minks have been domesticated, but not as pets. They are known to be much more aggressive than their friendlier cousin the ferret (which has proven to be a popular pet). Rather, minks are bred for their size, color and quality of fur and are typically farmed for this commodity to the chagrin of animal rights activists. However, there is still a demand to domesticate these animals to be kept as pets, but breeding them to be tame has proven to difficult. That fact still isn’t stopping us from continuing to try, it seems.
Breeders have been successful in raising tame skunks, and keeping the animal as a pet is becoming increasingly popular in North America and parts of Europe. However, existing legal restrictions around keeping skunks as pets in many areas has prevented them from becoming commonplace pets. Breeders will remove the scent gland of a skunk at a young age, but this practice is not legal everywhere. Removing a scent gland of a skunk is illegal in the UK, but people still choose to keep them as pets there.
8. Prairie Dog
For many farmers prairie dogs are disease-filled vermin that ruin grazing land for livestock, but for others these rodents are cute and cuddly pets. Capturing prairie dogs to be kept as pets was illegal in the United States from 2003 to 2008 due to numerous infectious diseases being reported in pet prairie dogs. The reluctance of these animals to bred in captivity has also made true domestication difficult, but the practice of capturing babies in the wild to be raised as pets remains.
The Kostroma Moose farm in western Russia is an experimental farm where moose are raised for their milk, antler velvet and to be sold to zoos and safari parks. There has been interest in domesticating moose for years, and with other ungulates like reindeer and elk being farmed regularly perhaps a future where the moose is a common farm animal is not far off.
Mongooses are kept as pets in India and Pakistan and are used to keep houses rat free; they are also commonly used in attractions by snake charmers. It is legal to keep a mongoose as a pet in Hawaii and Puerto Rico because the species is already present in the wild in these areas. However, they are illegal in the rest of the United States because of the damage they can do to the poultry industry and endangered reptiles and amphibians. Because these animals are captured in the wild and not bred in captivity they are considered semi-domesticated.
In Australia, three species of wallaby are becoming popular choices for exotic pet owners. Bennett’s wallabies, Damas wallabies, and the Red-necked pademelon all have similar care requirements like annual check ups with an exotic pet veterinarian and plenty of space to roam. Wallabies typically live 12 to 15 years in captivity, and the process of breeding and raising these animals as pets is growing in popularity every day.
You would be excused if you thought this strange-looking creature was a Pokemon rather than a real animal, but these bizarre amphibians do exist! These Mexican salamanders can live up to 15 years and thanks to increased interest in keeping them as pets they may one day be as common as keeping a pet frog. They are relatively easy to breed in captivity, which is a good thing because they are critically endangered in the wild.
3. Serval Cat
A relative of the cheetah, the serval cat is an African wild cat that is gaining popularity among feline fanatics who are willing to shell out the big bucks for this exotic pet. Serval cubs can cost as much as $10,000, and cross breeding these cats with domestic cat breeds like the Bengal is becoming an option to produce an animal that is tamer and slightly more affordable. These crossbreeds are called savannah cats and are often a way for pet owners to have an animal similar to a serval cat in an area where owning one of the wild African cats is illegal.
A guinea pig on steroids, the capybara is native to South America and it is the largest rodent in the world. They require studious care and maintenance including a pool that they can swim in and grass to eat that is non toxic. The giant grazers are social animals and tend to get along with most other pets and people. However, they need constant supervision and can get stressed if left alone. These animals are not fully domesticated so they need constant interaction from a very young age.
1. Fennec Fox
With the domestication of the silver fox, which is a morph of the red fox, it’s only a matter of time before this other fox species is domesticated as well. There are many traits that make these North African foxes an ideal candidate for domestication as a pet. They are much more social that other species of foxes and they don’t possess a musk gland, which means they don’t have an unpleasant odor like most other foxes. Fennec foxes are similar to dogs in many ways, and can be quite docile if handled regularly as a pup. However, no selective breeding has taken place yet which means they are not entirely tame and will run away if let outside without a leash. One day these creatures could be common household pets like dogs are today.