What is an exotic pet?

The definition of exotic pet may change from person to person and organization to organization.  Often “exotic” pets which are quite common and established may be considered exotic by some definitions.  One of the simplest definitions in common use is an exotic pet is anything other than a cat or a dog and not livestock.

The municipality of Cambridge Ontario, has specific criteria for what it considers an exotic pet set out in the city by laws.  Pets which are considered “exotic” are banned from being kept as pets in the city.  This list is current as of the time of writing, but always check out the most up to date by-laws on the City of Cambridge website https://www.cambridge.ca/en/your-city/By-Laws.aspx


ArtiodactylaSuch as cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, deer, elk
CanidaeSuch as coyotes, wolves, foxes, hybrid wolf dogs, coydogs
(except dogs)
ChiropteraSuch as bats, fruit bats, myotis, flying foxes
EdentatesSuch as anteaters, sloths, armadillos
FelidaeSuch as tigers, leopards, cougars, lions, lynx
(except domestic cats)
HyaenidaeSuch as hyaenas
LagomorphaSuch as hares, pikas
(except domestic rabbits)
MarsupialiaSuch as koalas, kangaroos, possums, wallabies
(except sugar gliders derived from self-sustaining captive population)
MustelidaeSuch as mink, skunks, weasels, otters, badgers
(except ferrets)
PrimatesSuch as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, lemurs
PerissodactylaSuch as horses, donkeys, jackasses, mules, zebras, ponies
ProboscideaSuch as elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus
ProcyonidaeSuch as coatimundi, cacomistles, raccoons
RodentiaSuch as porcupines, prairie dogs, nutria,
(except rodents such as chinchillas, hamsters and guinea pigs which do not exceed 1,500 grams and are derived from a self-sustaining captive population)
UrsidaeSuch as bears
ViverridaeSuch as mongoose, civets, genets


CrocodyliaSuch as alligators, crocodiles, gavials, caimans
SquamataLizards that are venomous or poisonous
Lizards that are greater than 2 metres
Snakes that are venomous or poisonous
Snakes that are greater than 2 metres


AnseriformesSuch as ducks, geese, swans, screamers
GalliformesSuch as pheasants, grouse, guinea fowl, turkeys, chickens, pea fowl
StruthioniformesSuch as ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, emus, kiwis
RaptorsSuch as eagles, hawks, falcons except those falcons licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, owls


All venomous or poisonous insects and amphibians

At Preston Animal clinic we know all pets are another member of the family, and we frequently work with unconventional or “exotic” pets. If your pet needs medical assistance reach out to us to set up an appointment with one of our veterinarians.