Updated April 23, 2021 to include photo gallery and links

The Netflix documentary about Joe Exotic is all my friends want to talk with me about. My wife and I are planning to watch it again this weekend. It has me wondering, what exotic animals can you legally own in Texas?

First, caring for exotic animals isn't easy. Most "exotic" animals will take full time attention and care. It's not as easy as Ross made it look in Friends with his spider monkey.

Second, it's just not a good idea for the most part. A lot of these animals can rip you to shreds, should the feeling ever take them.

That aside, this is what some digging turned up. Come to find out, Texas isn't a bad place to be if you're looking for a pet that's a little more "exotic" than a dog or cat.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

The big three, and other "dangerous animals" aren't technically able to be purchased freely as pets. You can't just order one and have it brought to you. There is a hefty amount of paperwork, insurance, registrations, and fees involved.

The types of "dangerous animal you can have are listed HERE. There's actually quite a few that you can own with proper registration.

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And that's only if it is legal where you live. It varies from place to place in the state of Texas. According to one report made last year, there were six (6) registered tigers in Potter county.

Statewide in 2019 there were 45 tigers (the majority were at a rescue), 18 lions, 18 cougars, 18 bobcats, and 12 bears registered, according to the report.

When it comes to purchasing one of these animals as a pet, don't. Go to a zoo instead. We have one you can go to. Or, just pull up YouTube. Kids love funny animal videos on YouTube.


I was amazed to find out that Texas is sloth friendly. Yes, you can have a sloth as a pet. That is, if you can handle blowing $6,000 on a 30 year slow moving investment.

If you can, get ready for the longest games of fetch you've ever played.

Lemurs, Capybaras, Bushbabies, Kangaroos, and More

There are several other exotic "pets" you can have, but most of them come with a catch. Bushbabies, or Galago, are prone to spreading their urine all over themselves. Some animals are skittish around humans. Others need constant attention.

Here's a quick list of exotic animals you can have in Texas, and the issues that come with them.

For me, I'll stick with my Toy Yorkie and my Boxer pup.

Here's Some Of The Exotic Animals You Can Own In Texas

Shockingly, Texans can legally own these exotic animals--provided you've filled out the massive amounts of paperwork required.

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