Videos: The 7 Worst Animals to Keep as Pets


Young wolverine in the snow.

There’s nothing wrong with owning exotic pets. Some people just aren’t that interested in the standard dog/cat/fish triumvirate that currently dominates the American pet scene. That’s okay—within reason. However, then there are people who fortify a section of their property with cages, fences, and several layers of security systems just to introduce one of the deadliest animals on the continent to their new play pen. Not to mention jumping through hoops in the long process (depending on your state or province) to get a Permit to Hold Wildlife in Captivity, which usually must be approved by the local wildlife agency.

All that is the easy part. The hard part is actually taking care of the animal itself. Check out this spoof classified ad in the Coma News Daily for a newborn wolverine:

For Sale: Baby Wolverine—Have a litter of baby wolverines for sale. Great pets as long as you keep them in a secure, fenced location and never go near them. This one is six-weeks old and has razor-sharp teeth and claws. This fun, furry animals is a great addition to any family as long as you have no desire to actually pet on it or wish to gain any sort of emotional warmth through the joy of being a pet owner. All shots are current! He is house broken but again, you should not consider ever bringing this animal anywhere near your home or your children or any confined space whatsoever. They don’t like to feel trapped. We have names him “Mr. Tickles” but you can change his name if you want. Contact Joan if you are interested.

PS- This animal will maul your face off if given the chance!

Yeah, there is a reason why most people with those captive wildlife permits are trained professionals. In fact, many states require wildlife experience before a person is eligible to own some of the below animals, which are often considered “Class II” wildlife. Yet that doesn’t stop some people.

Here is our list of the seven worst North American animals to keep as pets.

1. Bear

Bears are extraordinary animals, and anyone who has ever met a bear cub can tell you how cute and fuzzy they are. That said, anybody who has ever met a decently-sized adult can tell you exactly why bears are considered the most powerful land predator in North America. That’s because they are. There’s no question about it, bears are mountains of muscle that for a good chunk of the year, exist only to shove food into their mouths. Still, some people think it’s a good idea to keep them at home. Even for experienced biologists, living with bears is never safe and can always be unpredictable.

2. Raccoon

Not a lot of people like raccoons, and fewer still would even think about inviting one into their homes. These creatures have garnered a bad reputation due to their natural inclination towards theft and likelihood of rabies, which are two good reasons to avoid them. They also bite—really hard. Owning a raccoon is a bit like living with a piranha that grew legs and learned to breathe air. Your fingers and furniture won’t thank you for it.

3. Coyote

Imagine having a dog, but with most of the good aspects gone and replaced with a lot of howling and unpredictable behavior. Congratulations, you may have a coyote on your hands. There is a lot of debate over whether coyotes can be fully domesticated or not. After all, humans did domesticate dogs. However, trying to tame a wild coyote, even from birth, is a difficult proposition. They may seem calm and lovable as pups, but adult coyotes can be hard to manage.

4. Alligator

Sharp teeth capable of shredding large animals? Check. Can grow up to 15 feet and weigh more than 1,000 pounds? Check. A known reputation as a man-killer? Check. These are all good reasons why you shouldn’t own an alligator unless you are a seasoned handler, but it seems the lure of these large reptiles is just too much. Just keep in mind that you neighbors may not take too kindly of you and your new pet, especially if you want to take it on walks around the block.

5. Deer

Some people would tell you that deer make great pets. While they can never be fully tamed, home-raised deer can be passive and even obey commands. Despite that, the vast majority of wildlife agencies advise against keeping deer as private pets. They are still wild animals, which means they can be a vector for disease.

Pet deer are often rescued as orphans and raised like livestock. In the past several years, state wildlife agencies have sparred with private owners on several high profile cases, yet the plight of the deer was just too endearing for many to ignore. They may look cute, but they will also kick holes in your walls and break your fine china. These are just some of the many, many reasons not to raise an “indoor whitetail.”

Even if having a supply of venison close at hand is enticing.

6. Mountain lion

This one goes without saying. A mountain lion is far away from your average tabby, unless your house cat eats roughly one deer a week and has been known to scare even wolf packs. Oh, and if you think your cat is selfish, whiny, or just a jerk in general, know imagine them as a 200-pound apex predator with an appetite for red meat.

7. Wolverine

Pound for pound, these creatures are probably the scariest things on this list. Their reputation for ferocity is not exactly undeserved, as wolverines have been documented to take down adult moose and put the smackdown on predators as large as brown bears. No, we definitely won’t be contacting Joan for that baby wolverine, unless we have a wolf problem.

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