An exotic pet is any pet other than a domestic dog or cat. People keep many types of exotic animals as pets, and there are many choices. So, which is the best exotic pet? The answer will depend partly on taste. Some people think snakes make great pets, while others find them horrifying.

Other considerations will include the price of the pet, its temperament, and ease of care. That last criterion will also contain such matters as the ability to find an exotic pet vet and provide a suitable habitat. Most people are going to want a pet they can keep in their apartment or house. Finally, certain exotic pets are banned in some states and municipalities. A prospective owner will, therefore, need to check the legality of owning a given pet.

The Best Exotic Pets to Consider

The following list will be organized by price, going from cheapest to most expensive.

1. Rats

Rats cost between $10 to $20 apiece, depending on their breed and age. Since rats are social animals, most breeders will only sell them in pairs. So a pair of rats typically costs between $25 and $35. While they are the most intelligent of the rodents, they live for only two or three years. Rats are often bought from pet stores or breeders, and the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association keeps a list of reliable breeders.

  • Rats need to be kept in a cage roughly the size of a 20- gallon fish tank. A rat cage can cost $30 to $180.
  • Rat bedding costs around $7, and you should replace it every month.
  • Rats usually eat commercial food mix designed for rodents. A single bag costs around $6.
  • Also, rats love toys, and those cost $2 to $10.
  • The Rat Fan Club’s website includes a list of rat veterinarians organized by state. A typical vet visit will cost about $35 or $40.

2. Corn Snake

Corn snakes can cost anywhere from $20 to $175. This depends on age, gender and coloration. Snakes bought at pet stores tend to cost less than those purchased at reptile shows or professional reptile stores. Also, baby snakes are less expensive than adult snakes.

Corn snakes are popular exotic pets, as they are relatively easy to care for and handle. They also have docile temperaments and come in a wide array of colors and patterns. Adults can be anywhere from three to six feet long. A well-cared for snake can live 15 to 20 years.

  • Corn snakes eat mice, and those mice will cost $50 to $100 per month.
  • They need to be kept in cages. A cage can around $20 to $300 depending on how large and elaborate it is.
  • These snakes need to see a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. The local herpetologist society or rescue may provide information about veterinarians.

3. Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko is a small-spotted lizard that comes in a wide array of colors and breeds. The more common types can cost as little as $20. Meanwhile, the rarer varieties will cost several hundred dollars. While the more common types are available at pet stores, reptile shows are the best places to find the more rare and exotic types.

  • You can keep Leopard geckos in fish tanks that can hold at least ten gallons. As an adult leopard gecko can be ten inches long, the tank needs to be large enough to let it move about quickly. Such a tank will cost $30 to $70.
  • The tank will need to be lined with sand or a reptile carpet. You need to replace the lining at least once a month. A bag of sand costs $10. You can find a reptile carpet at around $15.
  • As reptiles, geckos need heat lamps, and those cost $5 to $20.
  • Leopard geckos eat insects and insect larvae. A gecko typically eats 25 bugs per month. This monthly food supply costs $15.
  • Leopard geckos need to see a reptile vet.

4. Cockatiel

There are many types of cockatiels, so the price will depend on the kind and age. A single cockatiel can cost anywhere from $25 to over $150. As these birds are social, a pet owner should have at least two. Cockatiels are available in an exotic pet store or a breeder. Local bird clubs and avian veterinarians will be able to recommend the most trustworthy stores and breeders. Some animal shelters or rescue groups also offer cockatiels.

Cockatiels are popular exotic pets. They are roughly a foot long and come in a variety of colors, and they can live for up to 20 years. The males are far more vocal than the females, and they are more likely to mimic speech. On the other hand, the females tend to be friendlier and are let people handle them.

  • Cockatiels are active and will, therefore, need a sizeable cage that is at least 25 inches tall and 20 inches wide. A good cage starts at $70.00.
  • Like humans, cockatiels are omnivores. They eat seeds, pellets, vegetables, fruits, meat, and eggs. A cockatiel owner should plan on spending $15 to $35 a month on food for each bird.
  • Cockatiels need to have by vets who work with birds. The Association of Avian Veterinarians maintains a website with a vet locator feature.

Bengal cat

5. Bengal Cat

Bengal cats vary in price. But pet quality Bengals cost around $500 to $1000, and show cats cost several thousand dollars. These hybrid cats are the result of crossing domestic cats with the Asian leopard cat to produce a wild-looking spotted cat that has the disposition of a domestic cat. However, they do tend to be livelier and energetic. Bengals can weigh about 15 pounds, making them the size of a large domestic cat.

  • You can buy Bengal cats from breeders. Their price will cover a health guarantee, inoculations, registration papers and sometimes microchipping and spaying or neutering. There are also Bengal rescue groups.
  • A Bengal cat’s health needs are similar to those of a domestic cat. They can eat cat food, and they can be taken to a veterinarian who treats cats.


The above animals represent a small sample of the possibilities. There are many more mammals, birds, and reptiles qualify as exotic pets. Amphibians, fish and even scorpions can be exotic pets. Many exotic pets have specific requirements, like cages or heat lamps. So a prospective pet owner needs to consider those as well as the cost of the animal itself. But the reward is priceless; as pets become long-term friends of their owners.

Have you ever had an exotic pet? What was your experience with it like?

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