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Some of the priciest pets one can own are a capybara, chinchilla, bengal cat, and more


When most people adopt a pet, they get a dog, cat or fish. These animals are great, but what if you’re looking for something a bit more unique?

If you’re considering taking a walk on the wild side, find out how much it costs to own the most exclusive pets. And buyer beware: It’s not uncommon to find people trying to rehome these animals for a nominal price, or even free. But often, the amount you pay to get a pet is just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll have to factor in a state permit to own an exotic animal, which can be thousands of dollars. You’ll also need regular vet visits, which may be extensive in your pet’s first year, when they generally need vaccinations as well as spaying or neutering. You’ll need to come up with a pet sitter plan. You’ll need to create an appropriate habitat, pet-proof your home, and plan for covering these costs for up to sixty years — which is the life expectancy of some of these animals.Are these pets worth it? You decide.

Camels

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Cost to Buy: $25,000

Other Costs: $4,000 for care

Camels have been transporting humans on long journeys for centuries, but they must be properly trained. They can kick, spit and bite if not handled properly, so buyer beware.

Owning a camel requires deep pockets and enough land for adequate exercise (generally around a half acre). While you may be able to find one to adopt for a nominal price, spend at least

$250 per month on hay. You’ll also need regular visits with a vet who specializes in exotic animals, who can make sure your camel is healthy and free of parasites, which can be common and can cause major health issues. Camels are social creatures, so purchasing at least two for companionship is advisable, but check Born Free USA first for ownership rules and regulations.

Savannah Cat

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Cost to Buy: $20,000

Other Costs: $1,200 yearly for care

A cross between an African Serval and a domesticated house cat, the Savannah cat has the loyalty of a dog, with the independence of a cat. Prices vary according to the amount of Serval in the cat, with the largest percentage averaging $12,000 to $16,000 for males and $15,000 to $20,000 for females. GOBankingRates found that Savannah cats are among the most expensive cat breeds in the world.

Nutrition requirements and other costs are similar to those of the average cat, so plan to spend around $340 to $900 per year in total, not counting vet visits or cat sitting care. Ownership rules for hybrid cats vary by state and municipality, so check with your local governing body before your pet adoption.

Palm Cockatoo

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Cost to Buy: $19,000

Other Costs: $2,000

Not your average pet store bird, the hard-to-breed Palm Cockatoo comes at an average price of $19,000. Expect to spend around $1,000 per year on maintenance costs. Not to mention, these birds can live for 60 years, so you need to make sure you can provide for it in the future, too.

Fun, intelligent animals to own, do note that Palm Cockatoos require a lot of attention, scream loudly and may become aggressive toward certain family members. The Palm Cockatoo is listed on the CITES — Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — list, so you’ll need either a permit or a certificate of captive breeding to own one.

Hyacinth Macaw

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Cost to Buy: $12,000

Other Costs: $1,500

The Hyacinth Macaw is a $12,000 regal bird that can reach a height of up to 40 inches and a 60 inch wingspan. Extremely strong, these birds can be deadly to smaller parrots, but are easily trained and very affectionate with humans.

Plan to spend around $2,000 for a cage, $60 per month on food and approximately $200 to $500 for a veterinary exam if the bird gets sick. Be sure your bird is weaned and, while ownership is legal in most parts of the U.S., check with your state first to learn the rules.

Capuchin Monkey

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Cost to Buy: $5,000

Other Costs: $2,500

Cute, small, and incredibly smart, a Capuchin monkey is like a forever toddler. Curious and playful, these monkeys require a lot of interaction to thrive. You’ll need a large enclosure with plenty of space for them to swing, and you’ll also need to continually train it, or else it will get aggressive.

Capuchin monkeys do well on a diet of monkey chow and fresh produce, and it’s smart to be mindful of what they’re eating. They can get excited by human food, but that’s not the best choice for them. They also need regular vet visits. And they can live for up to sixty years, so your investment is long-term.

Owl Monkey

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Cost to Buy: $3,000

Other Costs: $2,000

The world’s only nocturnal monkey, the owl monkey can be a great companion if you also prefer to keep nighttime hours. Since they’re considered exotic animals, consult your state’s fish and game department prior to adopting your pet to make sure it’s legal in your area.

You’ll need to create a large enough enclosure for them to swing, play, and sleep. They love fresh fruits and veggies, and may also eat bugs like crickets. And while they’re cute, they’re not always cuddly. Aggressive behaviors can be common.

Bengal Cat

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Cost to Buy: $4,500

Other Costs: up to $1,200 annually for care

Domestic by nature, a Bengal cat looks like an exotic animal but has the loving demeanor of a standard tabby cat. Curious, friendly and a fan of human interaction, these brainy cats have the smarts of the Siamese breed.

Show-quality Bengals are among the most expensive cats, costing $3,000 to $4,500, while kittens come at a price of $1,000 to $2,000, depending on their markings. Caring for these eight to 15 pound exotic pets isn’t much different than a standard cat, so expect annual costs to come in around the $1000 mark. Keep in mind that, like cats, they may require more extensive vet care as they get older.

Finger Monkey

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Cost to Buy: $5,000

Other Costs: $3,000

Also known as a pocket monkey, this breed can be a little naughty, so don’t adopt one unless you have a lot of patience. Mischievous by nature, it’s best to buy one from a certified breeder because they work to socialize them from birth.

Before you adopt a pet finger monkey, check with your state’s fish and game department, because ownership rules vary throughout the country. And while they’re small, your bank account should not be to adequately care for these animals. In addition to food and vet care, you also need to budget (teeny-tiny) diapers for these pets, because they’re notoriously hard to train.

Wallaby

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Cost to Buy: $4,000

Other Costs: up to $450 monthly for care

Domesticated wallabies have personalities that can be described as a mix between a dog and a cat — they’ll follow you around and even get along with other non-aggressive pets. They’re legal to own in Tennessee, but check with your state first before getting attached to one of these adorable creatures.

Plan to spend approximately $1,000 to $4,000 to purchase your Wallaby. Exotic animals aren’t cheap to care for, so make sure you can budget around $225 to $450 for its monthly expenses.

Cotton Top Tamarin

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Cost to Buy: $4,000

Other Costs: $25 per week for food

You can bring a cotton top tamarin monkey into your family for about $4,000. As long as you have a Class III permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, owning a cotton top is legal in Florida, but that’s not the case in all states, so check with yours first.

Budget around $25 per week to feed these social, playful animals. Made sure you’re buying from a legitimate breeder, because the cotton top tamarin is an endangered species made vulnerable by the illegal pet trade.

Ringtail Lemurs

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Cost to Buy: $3,500

Other Costs: $8,000

The most recognizable of the lemur group, ringtail lemurs can cost around $3,500 on average. Not only is their initial cost expensive, but you’ll have to budget around $7,400 annually to care for your pet, too. The bulk of this bill is the fresh produce they eat everyday, as well as the occasional insect as a treat. You’ll also need to budget vet care, and also want someone trustworthy to watch your lemurs when you’re away — they don’t do well being left alone for long periods of time.

At one point, the now deceased actress Kirstie Alley owned 14 of them and told a magazine they have Zen personalities and are safe and loving with people. Available in some states with a permit — Alley said that her lemurs seemed to appreciate her California backyard — they are illegal in many states.

Two-Toed Sloth

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Cost to Buy: $3,000

Other Costs: $4,000 a year

The cost to adopt a pet two-toed sloth runs from $1,500 to $3,000. Mostly solitary animals, sloths have a mild disposition and don’t bite defensively. They don’t love being held, and they may primarily enjoy hiding in their enclosure. 

You’ll have to buy leaf-eater food — purchased by zoos — that consists of the leaves, twigs, and buds a sloth would find in nature. It takes food six to 21 days to pass through their digestive systems, so you won’t have to spend a ton on feeding them, but building a habitat for your sloth will cost $300 to $3,000. Sloth ownership laws vary by state, so check with your state’s exotic animal governing body for specifics.

Kinkajou

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Cost to Buy: $3,000

Other Costs: $1,000 a year

This raccoon-like carnivore often gets mistaken for a monkey. While it’s not a primate, it does share primate-like traits of being intelligent, with a penchant for mischief. The price of kinkajous varies, so plan to spend anywhere from $750 to $3,000 to get your pet. You also may need to pay for a permit, depending on your state, as well as vet bills. And don’t forget the kinkajou-proofing. These animals can get into everything, so make sure you create a safe space for them to play.

Kangaroo

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Cost to Buy: $3,000

Other Costs: $5,000 a year

Kangaroos are known to attack when they feel panicked or threatened, so they’re probably not the best choice for a pet — especially if you have a dog. If you still want one, you’ll need to budget about $15 to $20 a day for the hay and grass they eat.

You’ll need plenty of enclosed space for your kangaroo to roam (er, hop) and you’ll also need to make sure your state allows these animals as pets.

Tiger Cub

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Cost to Buy: $2,500

Other Costs: up to $10,000 per year for care

If you want to be like Mike Tyson, buy a $2,500 tiger cub. The former professional boxer famously spent his fortune, including $4,000 per month on his three tigers. But actually getting one in your home is another story. Permitting for these animals is strict, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to purchase one — for good reason. While domesticating them is possible when they’re young, they’re unlikely to retain the training as they grow.

Fennec Fox

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Cost to Buy: $3,500

Other Costs: $3,000 per year

Not recommended for families with young children, the fennec fox is a social animal that requires a lot of attention. Expect to pay around $3,500 for your pet, and remember that your fox is likely to live for 15 years.

As with all exotic animals, check with your state to make sure you’re allowed to keep a fennec fox as a pet. Ownership with a permit is legal in a variety of states, including Delaware, Florida, Indiana and New York, but outlawed in many others.

Micro Piglet

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Cost to Buy: $3500

Other Costs: $2,000 per year

A cross between a Juliana and a potbelly pig, a micro piglet can be yours for $3500. They get along well with other animals and typically grow no larger than knee height, making them an ideal pet.

Generally speaking, caring for a pig costs around $100 a month for food, but pig sitting (they can’t be left alone for long periods, or they get bored) and vet bills will bring your annual costs to around $2,000 per year. They’re not the most exotic pets, but pigs are considered livestock, so check your state ownership laws prior to purchasing.

Miniature Donkey

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Cost to Buy: $500 to $2500

Other Costs: $2,000 a year for care

Affectionate, caring and natural people lovers, the miniature donkey is an ideal pet. You can have one of your very own for $600 to $1,150.

They’re not legal to own in New York City, so verify the laws in your city before adopting one into your family. If you get the green light and have enough land for it to play, plan to spend upwards of $2,000 to care for it, which includes all the hay they can eat.

Crocodile

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Cost to Buy: $1,100

Other Costs: $1,200

You can get a crocodile for $1,100 or less, depending on size, but buyer beware. Crocs can’t be tamed and should only be considered as pets by those extremely experienced with reptiles and who have the space to own one. Small pet crocs will eat live insects and fish, and like hunting for them within their enclosure.

Considered dangerous animals, crocodile ownership is outlawed in many other states. You’ll likely need a permit even if your state allows it.

Capybara

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Cost to Buy: $1,100

Other Costs: $1,000 for vet bills

Otherwise known as a giant hamster, a Capybara comes at an initial price of around $1,100 per animal. Vet bills can easily run between $600 and $1,000, and they eat 6 to 10 pounds of food per day. Buying just one isn’t a good idea because they’re pack animals, so prepare to make room for at least two in your home.

Weighing in at an average of 77 to 146 pounds, they have a friendly demeanor but need a living space with both water and mud. Most states require Capybara owners to have a license, among other paperwork, so check with your local governing bodies.

Bobcat

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Cost to Buy: $900

Other Costs: $6,000 a year

Approximately twice the size of a domestic cat, bobcats are elusive animals native to North America. They mainly prey on other wild animals but have been known to kill livestock and domestic pets. Bobcats are carnivores and need to be fed a diet of fresh, raw meat.You’ll also need to build a large enough enclosure for them to roam — they need space to run. Some owners give them indoor-outdoor access with a pet door, so you’ll also have to anticipate bobcat-proofing your house and building any necessary enclosures. 

They’re illegal in many states, but some states allow you to get one with a license or permit for around $900. You’ll also need to find an exotic vet who works with bobcats; pet bobcats will need a full round of vaccinations, as well as spaying or neutering.

Silver or Arctic Fox

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Cost to Buy: $850

Other Costs: $5,000

If you want to add a silver fox or an arctic fox to your pack, it will cost you roughly $650 to $850. Budget $75 per week for food. When properly domesticated from birth, foxes can be loving household pets. They’ll also add a lot to your grocery bill. Foxes will eat dog food, but you’ll need to supplement with fruits, veggies, live insects and some meat. You’ll also want to make sure they have plenty of space; a happy fox is one who has plenty of space to roam in an enclosure. While they can be housetrained, it’s an uphill battle. In terms of investments, expect your fox to take a lot of your time. 

Assuming the fox isn’t taken from the wild, you can get a permit for these animals in some states. But, in many states, they are illegal.

Sugar Glider

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Cost to Buy: $500

Other Costs: $600

Sold at the mall and by breeders, one look from a sweet sugar glider will melt your heart. Five to seven inches when full-grown, these pets cost $250 to $500 to adopt. It’s illegal to own a sugar glider in California and many other states, so check with your department of fish and wildlife prior to adopting.

While they are relatively inexpensive to care for — fresh produce is a favorite — they do need a lot of socialization. Two sugar gliders are better than one, but even if you have a pair, you’ll want to spend time each day hanging out with your pets.

Skunk

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Cost to Buy: $400

Other Costs: $2,500 a year

Considered loving and obedient pets, domesticated skunks are de-scented to remove their stink once they are considered mature. Keeping a skunk as a pet is illegal in many states, but allowed in some with a permit.

Curious and social, skunks can — and do — get into everything. You’ll need to do some skunk-proofing of your house, and you’ll also want a skunk sitter if you work outside the home. You can take your skunk for a walk or play with it outside.Other costs to consider include vet bills, as well as food bills, which will add up. They love chicken, fish, veggies, and some grains, all of which should be served fresh. 

The cost to adopt a pet skunk averages $300 to $400. Plan to spend around $300 to spay or neuter your skunk.

Patagonian Cavy

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Cost to Buy: $400

Other Costs: $3,000 per year

Also known as a Patagonian mara, these 18 to 35-pound rodents are distant relatives of the guinea pig. You can have one of your own for $300 to $400, with maintenance costs totaling approximately $200 per month. You’ll also need an exotic vet on call — parasites are common and their delicate legs and skittish nature means that they are in danger of leg fractures.

If socialized from a young age, they can be friendly pets but are best as outdoor farm animals. You might need a permit, but they’re legal to own in some states.

Be sure to check your state’s rules before adopting.

Hedgehog

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Cost to Buy: $250

Other Costs: $800 a year

Anything but prickly to their beloved owners, hedgehogs can be sweet pets when properly socialized. Plan to spend around $250 to bring one into your home.

One of the more affordable exotic pets, hedgehogs like eating cat food as well as live insects. Food bills likely won’t break the bank, but hedgehogs can have a variety of health issues that may make vet bills add up. One to watch for: Wobbly hedgehog syndrome, a fatal genetic illness. It is legal to own a hedgehog in most places in the U.S. Exceptions include Pennsylvania, Hawaii, California, Georgia, and one of the five boroughs of New York City.

Chinchilla

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Cost to Buy: $200

Other Costs: $1,000 a year

They’re classified as exotic animals, but chinchillas can be purchased at large pet stores for around $200. A chinchilla purchased from a breeder may be more expensive, but you’ll have information about the chinchilla’s parents, and any health issues they may have had. They’re legal without a permit in most states, but it’s still wise to check the local rules before you adopt a pet.

Nocturnal by nature, chinchillas are generally active and playful. Which is why experts recommend that they have a friend. Expect to spend about $1,000 a year on care, inclusive of vet visits, pet sitting, and food.

Bearded Dragon

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Cost to Buy: $100

Other Costs: $1,000 a year

Unless you live in Hawaii, you can purchase a bearded dragon in a pet shop like PetSmart for around $40. Largely considered one of the best exotic pets in the lizard family, bearded dragons are alert, friendly and mild-mannered.

The bearded dragon’s purchase price is relatively low but other expenses add up quickly. Building a proper habitat for a bearded dragon costs roughly $400 to $600. Because bearded dragons grow dramatically in the first two years of life, some people buy a smaller cage when they are juveniles, and buy a larger habitat when they’re older. Bearded dragons can eat a lot — baby bearded dragons can eat up to 80 crickets a day — and live crickets can cost about 5 cents each. As they grow older, a bearded dragon will eat fewer bugs and move veggies, but buying fresh produce will also.

Ball Python

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Cost to Buy: $500

Other Costs: Up to $450 per year

Given the name because they coil into a ball when confronted, the ball python is a friendly snake known as the most forgiving to new handlers. Legal in most areas, they’re outlawed in places like New York City and Hawaii, so check with your local pet store before adopting. An exotic pet without the hefty price tag, ball pythons are available at pet stores or from breeders. Grown ball pythons only eat once every 5-7 days. But the once a week grocery bill can come with an ick factor — they love mice and rats. Frozen ones are less expensive than live; expect a live large rat to cost $15 or so.

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