18 Dangerous Animals You Can Legally Own

While most of us opt for a cuddly companion that doesn’t bite or sting, many people across the world keep exotic and dangerous pets. Generally, it’s not recommended for anyone other than experienced keepers, but depending on your area, you could be allowed to keep these 18 deadly animals as pets.

Venomous Snakes

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Many US states allow you to own venomous snakes, but you’ll need a permit. Gaboon vipers and rattlesnakes are popular species to own due to their distinct patterns. You’ll need to set up a secure and comfortable tank. Pet Helpful says, “The bottom of their enclosure can be lined with dry leaves, the bark of trees, and brown grass to give a natural touch.”

Gila Monsters

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Gila monsters are one of the few venomous species of lizards; despite this, they are legal to own in some places with a license. Owners will need to feed them eggs and rodents and provide them with a hot, dry enclosure. In order to avoid getting bitten, it’s important to keep handling to a minimum.


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They may be small, but scorpions make a dangerous pet if not looked after correctly. Owners should provide them with a secure tank that is warm, dry, and has a deep substrate for burrowing and hiding. You should avoid handling as much as you can to avoid being stung.


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Mexican Redknee and Goliath Birdeaters are both popular tarantula species because of their size and striking appearance. They need a tank that is closely monitored to ensure it stays at the right humidity and temperature. According to The Spruce Pets, “handling should be kept to a minimum, plus they do not develop bonds with their owners.”


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While legal in some regions, there are strict regulations for owners of wolves due to their unpredictable and potentially aggressive nature. To keep them happy and healthy, they need plenty of secure space for exercise and a diet that mimics the prey they’d hunt in the wild.

Big Cats

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It’s certainly not advised to keep a big cat as a household pet, but it is legal in some areas with a special permit. These animals are tricky to look after because of their strength and predatory instincts, and owners need to make sure their diets and habitats simulate the ones they’d have in the wild.


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In some states, it is legal to own an alligator with the proper license and adequate facilities. They require a large aquatic enclosure and a meat based diet, making them a tricky pet for most people. The National Geographic warns that “most gator pet owners are unprepared to care for an adult animal that can reach 14 feet and live 80 years.”

Cone Snails

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These snails are known for their beautiful shells, but handling them can be fatal or cause serious injury due to their venom. They need to be kept in a saltwater tank that is closely monitored in order to make sure they stay healthy.

Poison Dart Frogs

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The poison dart frog’s venom actually comes from their diet, and so while they are still dangerous in captivity, the venom is often not as lethal as it is in the wild. These frogs like a humid tank with plants and moving water to mimic their natural habitats. They also like to be fed a diet of fruit flies and small crickets.


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While rare, it is possible to own hyenas in some countries if you have the proper permits and safe enclosures in place. These animals require lots of proteins and fats in their diet and are known for their aggressive behavior.

Komodo Dragons

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Komodo dragons are the world’s largest species of lizard, and due to their size, strength, and harmful bacteria in their saliva, they are a very dangerous pet. They need a large enclosure, which needs to be temperature-controlled in order to replicate their natural habitats. Owners also need to feed them a protein rich diet, mainly consisting of meat.


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Piranhas need a large tank and will need to be fed a variety of proteins to keep them healthy. Aqueon recommends “keeping them individually or in groups of 5 or more to avoid cannibalism.” While keeping these fish is legal in some regions, some places have banned them due to their aggressive nature.


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Some areas will allow you to keep giant centipede species such as the Scolopendra, but you’ll need to be aware of their potentially dangerous bite. To replicate their natural habitat, they should be kept in a humid enclosure with enough substrate for burrowing and fed insects.

Electric Eels

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Electric eels aren’t legal everywhere, but with a permit, it is possible to own them in some areas. Their tanks should be spacious, and they should be regularly fed with fish to keep them healthy. Because of their size and electric charges, they should only be kept by those with experience.

Bengal Tigers

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To own a Bengal tiger in the USA, you’d need to follow strict regulations as well as get state permits and USDA licenses. They need a very large space to allow them to safely exercise, and it should mimic their natural habitat to keep them physically and mentally healthy.

Monitor Lizards

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Although regulations might vary, you are able to own a monitor lizard in many areas. These lizards have a varied diet, which can include insects, eggs, and occasional fresh meats, although you’ll have to monitor this closely to ensure they are getting the right amount of nutrients.


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Some states allow you to own a freshwater stingray, but many people won’t have the space to have the right size aquarium for these rays as they need plenty of room to roam. They like to eat a variety of foods, such as shrimp, squid, and mollusks.

Brazilian Wandering Spiders

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They’re known as one of the most venomous spiders, but they can be kept legally in some locations across the US if you have a specific arachnid permit. You’ll need to make sure their enclosure is secure, and you should feed them a diet of live insects such as crickets and roaches.

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