While genetically modified animals may sound like something straight out of a fiction movie, like Napoleon Dynamite’s favorite animal the liger (a lion-tiger hybrid), or the large, prehistoric beasts from Jurassic Park, scientists have been working on the selective breeding of animals for years, leading to the creation of many new species and even new hybrids. Dogs are an animal which have been selectively bred for over 40,000 years in order to alter their appearance and behavior. Today, there are thousands of types of dog breeds that are widely kept as pets, some are so unique you’d have a hard time believing they could even exist. Thanks to selective breeding however, you can now own all kinds of exotic animal hybrids you wouldn’t have thought possible, without having to endanger yourself and your family. Read on to discover some of the most unique types of domestic animals that exist, all thanks to selective breeding practices.
15. Mules and Hinnies
One of the most common and most well known animal hybrids around are mules and hinnies. Both are a combination of horses and donkeys, with the difference between the two being that hinnies are the offspring of female donkeys (called jennies) and male horses (called stallions), while donkeys are the offspring of male donkeys (called jacks) and female horses (called mares). Hinnies are often smaller than mules, with a more oblong head shape and shorter ears. It is not uncommon for natural breeding between horses and donkeys, but when this is done selectively (due to human intervention), it is done for various reasons, the biggest of which are due to behavioral selection. Mules and hinnies exhibit the toughness, stoicism and loyalty of the donkey but not their stubbornness, while inheriting the speed, agility and size of the horse without the aggression. They are often healthier and make better riding animals than their parents, making them excellent barnyard pets.
14. Beefalos or Cattalos
First noticed in the 1700s across the English colonies in North America, the beefalo or cattalo is the result of crossbreeding between cattle and buffalo. The resulting animal displayed positive characteristics of both its parents, including increased hardiness and a more docile behavior, generating significant attraction from farmers. The first larger scale attempt to crossbred the two animals was done by Charles “Buffalo: Jones, who after seeing thousands of cattle die in a blizzard in the winter of 1886 in Kansas, wanted to create an animal that could survive the harsh prairie winters. Over the years, through various attempts at cross-breeding, farmers have been able to create a mixed breed that exhibits all the desirable traits from both animals and is able to reproduce, allowing for large scale farming of the animal. While the animal is often bred for livestock, many people across North America have chosen to keep beefalo as exotic pets because of their aesthetics and calm and friendly personality. Or maybe they just make a good steak.
13. Sheep-Goat Hybrids and Chimeras
As the name suggests, the sheep-goat hybrid is the result of mating a male sheep with a female goat, an extremely rare phenomenon. A few cases have been noted around the world, with the animal displaying both physical characteristics and a DNA structure that suggests a perfect blend of its parents. The hybrid has 57 chromosomes, a number in between that of sheep (which have 54 chromosomes) and goats (which have 60 chromosomes). Typical to hybrid animals, the sheep-goat displays traits of both its parents, including the playfulness and agility of a goat, but the soft docile nature of a sheep. Because of their behavior, they make excellent barnyard pets, showing great affection to their human owners.
In the same hybrid mix are sheep-goat chimeras, commonly called geep, which are the result of combining the embryos of a goat and a sheep. Because the chimera contains cells from two different parents, it has four parents, while the hybrid has only two parents. While the hybrid is unable to mate due to its genetic blend, the chimera can breed, passing on the genetic makeup of only one of its parents (either that of a sheep or a goat). So if you’re ever stuck trying to decide between a pet goat or a pet sheep for your farm or acreage, you could make the choice easy by choosing a sheep-goat hybrid or a sheep-goat chimera, depending on which you’d prefer.
12. Domestic Guinea Fowl
The domestic guinea fowl are a type of birds originating from the domestication process of the helmeted guinea fowl, a common bird to parts of Africa and later introduced to parts of the Caribbean, Europe and South America. Like the domestic turkey or the common hen, the bird became domesticated over time due to its desirability as a source of food, for both meat and eggs. Because of widespread domestication, the guinea fowl has become a very popular ingredient in Italian and Spanish recipes, often served on special occasions. Being very social animals, guinea fowl display strange behavior when kept in small numbers but seem to thrive alongside other types of domestic birds (such as chickens, ducks or geese). They are often used as a way to safeguard against birds of prey, because of the loud piercing shrieks they emit when they feel threatened. They are seen as extremely valuable pest controllers, eating many insects, as well as proving to be beneficial in protecting against Lyme disease carrying ticks. Although not common in North America, they have become popular in countries such as Brazil, both in rural areas and urban areas where poultry are allowed to be kept in yards as urban pets.
11. Hybrid Lovebirds
A hybrid lovebird is created by breeding two types of love birds: a rosy-faced lovebird with a Fisher’s lovebird. The crossbreeding is done purely for aesthetic reasons, which result in unique plumage. While their bodies display bold primary colors such as yellow, red, green and blue, they often feature either a duller peach or grey facial marking, that appears softer and more gradual than that typical to Fisher’s lovebird. Their beaks as well are much lighter in color than those of their parents. Because of the crossbreeding that occurs to produce the hybrid lovebird, the resulting offspring are typically infertile and unable to reproduce further.
10. Iron Age Pigs
Inspired by prehistoric art works found across Europe and dating back to the Iron Age, scientists set out to create a pig that would resemble the pigs found in these images. The project began back in the 1980s, and resulted in combining a Tamworth sow with a male wild boar, resulting in a pig that resembled those from long ago. They have since become common across Europe, being bred for their specialty meat. Being bigger than their parents, the Iron Age pigs also exhibit more aggressive behavior and have more distinct personalities, but they provide a unique challenge for those who wish to adopt a pet pig – a pet pig inspired by ancient work of art. How neat is that?
9. Salamander Hybrids
Barred salamanders were first introduced into the California wild in the 1940s and 1950s from Texas, which were able to breed with the California tiger salamander population, creating a Super Salamander. The resulting species are bigger than the parent species, they are more aggressive, have a larger appetite, and are better hunters. Due to the lack of predators, the Super Salamanders have bred so rapidly, estimates say they now makeup over 1/3 of the salamander population, causing some concern regarding the future of the tiger salamanders. While in the wild they may become an issue in the local pond ecosystem, they make excellent pets as they are voracious eaters, devouring small amphibians and any type of insect they can get.
8. Zebra Hybrids
Zebra hybrids have been bred since the 18th century, with Charles Darwin documenting several types in his work. Zebras can be bred with various equine types including horses (called zorses), donkeys (called zonkeys) and ponies (called zonies), which results in smaller, striped offspring. The offspring typically resemble the non-zebra parent, and have stripes that may cover most parts of the body, commonly the legs and neck. If the non-zebra parent’s coloring features stripes, spots or patterns, this may appear in the offspring and blend with the zebra stripes, resulting in unique patterns in the fur of the offspring. Zebroids are often used for riding, as they are quite easily domesticated and subdued, but they may exhibit a strong temperament similar to zebras, and can be aggressive.
7. Polecat-Ferret Hybrids
As the name would suggest, the polecat-ferret hybrid is a cross between a European polecat and a ferret. The resulting animal is physically stronger than ferrets, and have an improved eyesight, while still displaying the independent yet playful nature of the ferret. Polecat-ferret hybrids have been documented in the wild as early as the 11th century, with the introduction of ferrets to England, likely after the release of domestic ferrets into the wild. Although they are quite friendly, they require much more attention in order to get used to their owners, and require more entertainment as they can easily get bored with routine games and exercises.
The perfect physical blend between wallabies and kangaroos, wallaroos are becoming an increasingly popular choice for an exotic pet. They can reach up to 100 pounds, growing to a size somewhere between that of a kangaroo and a wallaby. They make very curious pets, enjoying socialization with their owners, and if raised with affection and love from early on, they become very attentive and disciplined. There are many breeders around the world for wallaroos, so if you’re considering getting one, make sure you’re able to offer them adequate space for exercising, as they require large pens to play in.
Coyotes are beautiful wild animals that have been a vital part of North American lore. While they look like bigger, wilder dogs, they aren’t known to be the most welcoming or friendliest animals out there. Thanks to cross-breeding however, by breeding dogs with coyotes, pet owners can take pride in knowing they own an animal that looks like a coyote but behaves like a dog. They are friendly towards other dogs, people, children, and tolerant towards cats, but still maintain some of the best traits of coyotes: they can run up to 45 miles per hour, and are independent. Because of their breed, there are no unusual laws limiting keeping coydogs as pets. Breeders are available across North America, with coydog pups selling for about $1000.
4. Cichlid Hybrids
First created in 1986 in Taiwan, the blood parrot cichlid is a hybrid between the midas and the redhead cichlid. They are often bright in color, exhibiting bright shades of red, orange and yellow coloring. One common deformity among the hybrid is the beak shape of the mouth which they have a difficult time closing, causing them to use their throat muscles to crush their foods properly. The fish’s tail was often cut while the fish was small, causing it grow into a heart shape. Because of the cruelty of the practice however, this is no longer allowed and breeders can no longer perform this modification. Blood parrot cichlid are often more hardy than their parents, resulting in a longer average lifespan if properly cared for and fed accordingly. Because of their deformities however, many have chosen to boycott pet stores that sell these fish, so if you’re considering purchasing one, be mindful of the implications of these, and be aware while feeding them.
Another type of cichlid hybrid is the flowerhorn cichlid. Admiring the protruding foreheads of other fish, the Malaysians began breeding various fish including the red devil cichlids, trimac cichlis, and eventually using blood parrot cichlids to breed what would become the original variety flowerhorn cichlid. The breeding of these fish led to many types of flowerhorn cichlids being created, featuring more intricate color patterns and fin shapes. Unlike the blood parrot cichlid, these do not have the same mouth deformity issues and are considered a hardy breed, able to quickly survive in new environments.
3. Silver Foxes
The domestication process of silver foxes began in 1959 in Soviet Russia, by scientist Dmitri Belyaev, who wanted to show how behavioral traits of animals can be altered. He began by breeding red foxes which displayed tame, dog-like characteristics, which after years of selective breeding resulted in silver foxes, commonly known as Siberian foxes. Over the course of a few generations, the silver foxes began displaying unique physical traits, including their spotted silver fur and floppy ears, as well as behavioral traits, such as extremely tame and playful behavior. If you’ve ever wanted to own an animal as playful as a dog, independent as a cat, and as cute as a fox, consider buying a silver fox for your next pet.
Similar to the coydog, the wolfdog is the result of cross-breeding a dog and a wild animal, in this case a wolf. The cross-breeding of the two species is not uncommon and has been practiced for many years, with the creation of many common dog breeds resulting from this, like the German Shepherd, with the original German Shepherd being one quarter wolfdog. Other common wolfdog breeds include the Saarloos hound (created in 1935 by cross-breeding a Mackenzie Valley wolf and a German Shepherd), a Lupo Italiano (created in 1966 by crossing a wild wolf from the Lazio region in Italy and a German Shepherd), the Kunming wolfdog (created in the 1950s by breeding a Chinese wolf and a German Shepherd) and the Czechoslovakian wolfdog (created in 1955 by crossing a Carpathian wolf and a German Shepherd). The various wolfdog breeds are often used in fire rescue, police work, therapy work, search and rescue and herding, but also make excellent pets due to their high level of intelligence, obedience and protective behavior towards children.
1. Savannah Cats And Bengal Cats
If you’ve ever dreamed about owning an exotic cat but gave up on that dream because of the complications associated with it, fear not, animal breeders have solved this dilemma for you. By breeding domestic cats with their exotic counterparts, they’ve been able to produce cats that are smaller, friendlier, and more playful than full-sized felines – all while keeping their unique fur patterns.
One of these mixed breeds, the Bengal cats, are the result of breeding domestic cats with the Asian leopard cat, resulting in what looks like a miniature leopard. They come in either brown or snow white spots, and various fur colorings. They are playful and gentle, require a lot of attention to keep happy, and unlike cats, they enjoy playing in water. Because of their build and stature, they can jump up to 8 feet and are quite agile.
Another common cat hybrid is the savannah cat, which resulted form breeding domestic cats and servals, a medium-sized African wild cat. They exhibit the exotic look of the serval, including their unique spotted markings, tall, deeply cupped, and wide ears, very long legs, and big, rounded noses. Like Bengal cats, they can jump up to an impressive 8 feet and enjoy playing in water. One of their unique quirks is that while they are able to meow like cats, they also chirp like servals, making some of the most vocally unique sounds among cats. Behaviorally they are most similar to dogs, following their owners around, enjoying being walked on leashes, and playing fetch with their owners.