Sugar Gliders and Other Exotic Pets You Really Can't Afford to Own

Two Alpaca


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Two Alpaca

Pet Peeve

Animal ownership laws vary greatly depending on where you live —some states are quite strict, while others could care less. Alabama, North Carolina, Nevada, and Wisconsin, for example, have absolutely zero rules about what animals you can and cannot own. Even if you live in one of those states, though, do we really have to say it? Don’t become "Tiger King" Joe Exotic. Wild animals belong in their natural habitat, which means that if you really need to flex your cash on an already hefty price tag, you should spend even more making sure an exotic pet’s environment matches what it’s used to. Here are 22 pets you probably can’t afford to own; if you have stories about these or others, share them in the comments.

Related: Cheap Pets That Are Easy to Take Care Of

The cute sugar glider in the basket front of bicycle

Sugar Gliders

It’s important for us to mention that even dogs, cats, rabbits, and the rest of the country’s most common pets aren’t cheap. Between food, equipment, and vet bills, pets are expensive. This only scales upward when you get an exotic one, and sugar gliders are a prime example. Their initial cost can run as high as $500, and with toys, a proper cage, proper bedding, their diet of fresh produce, and everything else they need, you can be looking at a potential $1,000 expense annually.

Related: Cute Dog Breeds That Make Terrible Pets

woman holds a beautiful and cute ferret
Irina Vasilevskaia/istockphoto


Even if you want only one (let’s be honest, you want two), alpacas are quite the financial undertaking. True, they are probably cuter and nicer than llamas (sorry, llama-heads), but with a starting cost of anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, you know it doesn’t stop there. You’ll need clippers, bedding, vaccinations, dewormings (ew), and food, which happens to come in the form of straw and grain.

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Cebus monkey

Capuchin Monkey

Many of us were kids who wanted an Ace Ventura-style pet capuchin monkey. Every single one of us. But let’s start with the $7,000 price tag to dissuade you and continue to the fact they need tons of space to swing around and will probably destroy your home. We’ll conclude on the thousands of dollars of equipment and, yep, diapers that they need to wear. This is a bad (read: unethical and expensive) call.

Related: The Most Expensive Pets Money Can Buy

Antelope resting in wildlife reserve

Bongo Antelope

We know what you’re thinking: “How can I get my hands on a 900-pound animal that will be miserable outside of its habitat, destroy things with its incredibly sharp horns, and cost me nearly $10,000, not including its annual expenses?” A bongo antelope might be the key to your dreams.

Yellow Canary


A healthy canary can cost as much as $400 to buy, and before you even worry about cages, food, water dispensers, perches, and vitamins, there’s another issue: Canaries are often victims of disease-carrying mosquitos and mites, and that means consistent vet bills. Are those beady red eyes worth it?

Hyacinth Macaw sitting on a palm tree

Hyacinth Macaw

Did you think $400 was a lot for a canary? That covers just your hospital bills if you’re getting a hyacinth macaw — a casual $12,000. These gigantic, terrifying monsters will also try to kill any other birds they see. 

Ball python morph on a branch 2
David Kenny /istockphoto

Ball Python

Why anybody would want a snake within 100 feet of them (much less in their own home) is beyond us. If you are somebody who is able to not have a panic attack while you put a snake on your body and it wraps itself around your limbs, congratulations: you are a lunatic. But the $500 a year you’ll spend on a ball python might slow your roll, and that’s not including what it costs to buy them. They’ve been known to sell for as much as 10 times that amount.

Samoyed dog ( autumn)


At last, an animal that it might make sense to spend a lot of money on. These adorable Siberian dogs are friendly and fluffy — but breeders know how much people want them and are ready to charge for them. You should always look at adoption and rescue options before paying the whopping $3,000.

Kangaroo and Joey


Kangaroos need tons of space (you may recall, they are from the Outback) and love to throw “This is Sparta”-style kicks whenever they’re feeling territorial, so right off the bat, a pet roo seems like a bad call. Expect to spend $3,000 to buy and another $3,000 yearly on food. And resist the urge to stick your human child in its pouch.

Camel Portrait
Svetla Ilieva/istockphoto


Here’s a cheap one for you: Camels can cost anywhere from 20 to 50 grand and an additional $250 a month for food. They also live for 40 to 50 years, so you can potentially plan to spend $150,000 in your lifetime feeding your pet camel. There’s also a matter of their climate — are you able to replicate the climate of the Tanzanian desert? Are you ready to spend money to train a camel to not function the way it’s meant to function?

From Brazza's Monkey

De Brazza’s Monkey

Like lookin’ in a mirror, eh? De Brazza’s monkey looks like a fun dude, but no matter how much we adore that cool white beard and apartment carpet-textured fur, the $10,000 cost is tough to get over. You’re also in line for a potential $1,000 a month in vet bills.

Incredible Savannah Cat that almost looks like a serval

Savannah Cat

You know you can rescue a normal cat for free, right? A top-tier Savannah cat breed, which is a mix of a standard cat and a serval, can hit your bank account to the tune of $20,000. Luckily the standard yearly costs will be somewhere in the typical house cat range, but your credit will definitely need some time to recover.

funny portrait of a dwarf pig
DEBOVE SOPHIE/istockphoto

Micro Pig

Though an oh-so-cute micro piglet won’t run you as jaw-dropping an amount as a racing camel, that doesn’t make them cheap. Expect to pay a couple grand from a breeder, followed by a few hundred a month in care. You’ll want to keep your little guy healthy, too, because vet bills have been known to reach $300 per visit.

palm cockatoo

Palm Cockatoo

Hyacinth macaw not scary enough for you? Look no further than a palm cockatoo, which can cost somewhere in the $15,000 range. Thanks to their 50 years of life, you’ll be paying for its food for quite some time, and that’s if you manage to outlive it. Then you’ve got cages, treats, toys, perches, and medical bills to handle. This flying jungle monster isn’t worth it.

Stag beetle (female)

Stag Beetle

A Japanese breeder once paid $89,000 for this monster, which is nuts to us for a variety of reasons. Because they are endangered their value has skyrocketed, but we hope we don’t have to tell you that keeping an endangered species as a casual pet is probably not the best route to good karma.



While they might be cuter, friendlier, and easier to own than the average pet kangaroo, a domesticated wallaby can end up costing far more than their marsupial cousins. You can look to drop $4,000 on a pet wallaby and another $6,000 yearly in expenses. You can also expect to get hounded by questions every time you go out for a walk.

Lions and white Tiger on the ground

Lions and Tigers

Remember what we said about not being Joe Exotic? We still mean it. Don’t be Joe Exotic. It’s cruel, and they belong in the wild. We hope that’d be enough to sway you, but the 10 grand you’ll spend per year caring for a lion or tiger should do the rest of the work.

excellent Tibetan mastiff of red color ..

Tibetan Mastiff

With an average lifetime cost of more than $30,000, the lovable ball of fluff that is a Tibetan mastiff isn’t cheap. You’ll be hard pressed to find one for less than $3,000 to begin with (in 2011, one sold for a cool $582,000) and between grooming, food, and general care, you might have to pop open a second credit card.

beautiful bengal cat sitting on a bed and turning round

Bengal Cat

Despite the fact that Bengal cats take to domestication far more than other exotic-ish breeds (it's the precise crossbreeding of an Egyptian Mau and an Asian leopard cat), it’s likely that you’ll spend more on veterinary visits for their tendency to suffer health issues. Oh, and they can cost around $3,000.

Chimpanzee sitting in a tree, wildlife shot, Gombe/Tanzania


Let’s start with the most important part: You shouldn’t own a chimpanzee. Much like tigers and lions, they belong in the wild. Even a chimp in a zoo looks miserable, so we’re hoping you don’t expect your apartment to be much different. They also tend to cost at least $60,000 before any other expenses, but didn’t anybody see Jordan Peele’s “Nope”? Price is honestly the last thing we’re worried about.

Horse running on a track in motion

Thoroughbred Horse

If you’re looking to buy a thoroughbred horse, you’re probably a jockey. If you’re probably a jockey, you probably don’t mind using horses in an industry where they get murdered if they are bad at it or get injured. You must also be very wealthy, because you’re going to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $300,000 on the horse, plus a potential $100 a day in other expenses. Not one piece of that sounds worth it to us.