10 Potentially Big & Bad Wild Animals Kept as Pets


(images via: Pandiyan, PhotoProfiler, Living in the Whine Country)

It has been little more than a year since a 122 pound cougar – originally thought to be a released pet, but actually a wild animal that had migrated from South Dakota – made its way into Chicago’s trendy Roscoe Village and news headlines across the country. While the idea of someone having a cougar as a pet in a heavily-populated, urban area may seem crazy to most, it actually is not as unusual as you may think. From cougars and other large cats to crocodiles and alligators to hippopotamuses and rhinos, it’s surprising to see what exotic animals some people own as pets and just how these creatures co-habitate with their owners and more traditional pets.

From Swamps to Pet Shops: Gators and Crocs

Pet Alligators of Differing Sizes

(images via:Purgatorio, InsideSoCal)

Imagine the surprise that shoppers at a Michigan PetSmart experienced a couple of years ago when two men led their nearly 5 foot, 50 pound pet alligator into the store on a spiked leash. After freaked-out customers called the police, the men had to turn the the gator over and put it in the back of a squad car. It is legal to own an alligator in Michigan as long as you have an exotic pet license, but these men didn’t and were arrested for possession of the wild animal. While pet alligators and crocodiles may seem more suitable as pets on  gator farms, they’ve appeared in other weird places. Just this week, a 3 foot pet alligator was found inside a 22-year-old college student’s bag on a train traveling from Sweden to Norway.

Feisty Felines: Lions and Tigers, Oh My!

Pet Tiger Cubs, Pet Lion, Pet Lynx

(Images via For the Love of Blush, Panoramio, Exotic Catz)

While large cats like lions and tigers would seem best reserved for their native habitats, they are cherished household pets to some die-hard pet enthusiasts. Christian the Lion was raised as a cub to a year of age by two men before being released into the wild. Later, the men were reunited with the lion in Africa. Christian quickly recognized them and expressed his fondness by essentially hugging them and introducing them to his wife. One avid lover of large cats has everything in between white tigers to lion cubs on her sprawling property in California. Other wild, strong and yet large felines that people keep as pets include pumas, cheetahs, lynx, spotted leopards and the next selection on our list.

Cougar Town: Not the 40-somethings on Network TV

Pet Cougars

(Images via: AltPet, Exotic Catz, Exotic Catz)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has been recently exploring the possibility of banning cougars as exotic pets. After the Chicago cougar fiasco, people would have to be crazy to have a full-grown cougar as a pet, right? Actually, some people keep cougars in their house (who needs a watch dog anymore?), and apparently, some cougars are just as big of babies as teeny, tiny, domesticated cats. This full-grown pet cougar apparently likes to play in his owner’s lap and apparently chill out to the soothing tunes of 1990s alternative music. A perusal of other pet cougars on the Internet shows some of these large cats coexisting and sleeping with household dogs. Talk about wild stuff!

Hi, Nice to Meet You Mr. Hyena

Pet Hyenas

(Images via: Jaunted)

Another animal that may be banned as a pet in Florida is the hyena. Earlier this week, a South Carolina trial involving a man who allegedly had a pet hyena on his property was put on hold. According to news reports, the man has argued that he did nothing wrong based on his interpretation of state law, in which he says it is illegal to own a hyena with the intention to sell or display the animal. Based on what the man is saying, the hyena was living in a cage in his yard where it was not visible to the public, thus leaving him innocent of any alleged wrongdoing. We’ll let the court decide.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Rhinestone Rhinos



(Images via: NeatoRama, Tree Hugger)

Perhaps you have seen the cable television show detailing the friendship of a South African man and a hippo named Jessica, which has been raised by the man since it was a baby and now, more than five years later, weighs 1 ton. Back in the sixties, a rhinocerous named Rupert decided to shack up with a family in Rhodesia. Rupert took a liking to the family’s couch before becoming way too big for the house and returning to the wild.

Animal Farm: Don’t Forget These Jaw Droppers

Pet Bear and Monkey

(Images via: Flat Rock, Nancy Around the World,)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission maintains an amazingly-cool animal database in which you can hunt down the names of people in the state with exotic, wild animals. A quick search of the database reveals that people actually own apes, bears, buffalo, new world monkeys and many other jaw-dropping animals. Seems like the days of the lovable dog, curious cat and content goldfish as satisfying family pets have gone to the wayside.