Odd Pets in Canada

Odd Pets in Canada

Gabriela Rodiguez

Even though pets aren’t exactly human, there are plenty of pet owners who would say their pet likes to act human out of adoration. Pets like rodents, dogs, cats, and reptiles would all be part of a family somewhere in the world, but what about animals like deer, wolves, or koala bears? Although they’re not the everyday type of house pet, exotic pets are still popular worldwide.

Exotic actually refers to a species that is not native or indigenous to the owner’s location. For example, a koala bear would be considered an exotic animal in Canada. Every province has different regulations (at both the provincial and municipal levels) regarding the ownership of exotic pets. Some have strict ban lists of specific species, while others are more lenient or require permits.

Even if there is quite the process in owning an exotic pet, here’s a few animals that can or have been owned in Canada:


When you think of a capybara just think of a giant hamster. Sure they won’t fit in those little balls or running wheels, but they can tear your furniture apart in a snap! Capybaras also live in groups, making them social animals, so buying at least two (but preferably more) is wise. Capybaras are semi-aquatic so they need to be around lots of water. So if you have a pool, the outdoor space, sturdy furniture, energy, patience, a proper vet, money to pay for the capybara’s wellbeing, and proper transportation to get them all safely to your home, then a Capybara will make a wonderful pet!

Sugar Glider

Sugar Gliders are cute, funny looking flying possums that like to eat nectar, fruit, insects, and even small birds or rodents. They live in social family units in the wild called colonies, so buying a couple of these furry little creatures is a necessity. Sugar Gliders bond well with their human family, but if deprived of social interaction, they will not do well. In fact, they can become depressed to the point of death.

Lots of toys, play time, large cages that can handle lots of flying, occasional rides in your pockets will make a Sugar Glider a sweet companion. Keep in mind that they come from the wild, so patience is required as they can be unpredictable in the average home.

Fennec Fox

Fennec Foxes are confusing when it comes to their appearance and personalities, because they can be compared to cats just as easily as to dogs. They have big and pointy ears like a cat, are about the same size as one and sometimes show the same kind of aloofness. However, their energy and playfulness is that of a very active dog. Odor is not a major issue when it comes to these foxes unless they’re scared. If a Fennec Fox is scared it will give off an odor from its tail, but it’s said to be barely noticeable and only lasts a few moments. Other than that, just keep their litter box clean. One precaution to take about Fennec Foxes is they do share one scary and slightly annoying habit with domestic dogs and cats; at one moment you’ll see it across the room, and the next you almost step on their small, fragile bodies.

BC has passed some of the toughest rules in the country regarding exotic pets. The Ministry of Environment introduced new regulations to the “Wildlife Act” in 2009 which designates over 1,000 non-native species, previously unregulated, as “Controlled Alien Species” (plants, animals and microorganisms from one part of the world that are transported beyond their natural range and become established in a new area).

On top of complicated rules on owning exotic pets, a huge issue is enforcing them. There are no inspections of peoples’ homes to see if they are hiding an exotic pet they have no right to have. There have also been cases where animals became so stressed over the amount of activity in the house that they hide on their own.

In conclusion, exotic pets are hard to take care of properly, no matter how well intended the owner. There are also animals such as wolf hybrids, Slow Loris, and koala bears, that people try to keep as pets no matter how endangered and mistreated they are in the process.

If owning an exotic pet is on your mind please make the effort to do extensive research on how much time, energy, and money it would take to own one. Or to keep things simple, leave wild animals in their own wild habitats. There are many places with domesticated pets that would love to have a forever home. No complicated permits, unmanageable diets, or ridiculous amounts of money required.