An exotic pet is an animal which is not usually kept as a pet. This definition is inexact, since most pet stores call any animal other than cats, dogs, small rodents, small birds or fish as “exotic,” and others might call reptiles common pets. The definition is also fluid. When a specific animal first enters the pet trade it may be considered exotic, but later become mainstream. One possible way to distinguish between common and exotic pets is whether the animal is trainable. Domestic cats and dogs can easily be trained, while frogs, iguanas and chickens cannot.
Due to the fact that certain animals are rarely kept as pets, some misconceptions about them are rampant. For instance, there has been a misconception that ferrets and some other exotics are rodents. In fact, ferrets belong to the mustela family along with weasels, otters, polecats, and used to include skunks. Most small mammals that secrete a musky odor belong to the mustela family (Skunks are now classified in their own family — Mephitidae.)
When considering adoption of one of the more unusual pets, make sure to check that it is legal to own this species in your area. Look for a veterinarian experienced in caring for this animal before you bring it home. Research the physical and emotional needs of the species to be sure that you can provide a proper home for your pet.