Raising a Wild Animal as a Pet – 5 REASONS Why You Shouldn’t

Raising a wild animal as a pet can sound like a pretty fun thing to do. But I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t.

Raising a Wild Animal as a Pet - 5 REASONS Why You Shouldn't

This is a case of, “Do as I say, not as I have done.”  You see, I have a raised quite a number of sick, dying, and/or orphaned wild (and domestic) animals.  While living in rural areas and in the woods, I’ve had many opportunities to do this.  Being a huge lover of animals, as many of you already know, I simply cannot resist a chance to do some good if I find one in need.  I’ve had people drop animals off at my doorstep on occasion as well, due to my reputation as “animal healer.”

I speak from experience and research when I tell you that raising a wild animal as a pet is not a good idea.  A wild animal is just that – a wild animal.  Not a pet.

Raising Wild Animals as Pets

Here are 5 solid reasons why you should not consider raising a wild animal as a pet:

1. It is illegal.

It is against the law to try to raise any type of wild animal in captivity. Any wild animal – baby birds, bunnies, squirrels, raccoons, and the like.  It may be that in some States or Provinces, you may be given a temporary permit to allow you to do this.  You would have to check this out for yourself where you live.  But in general, it’s illegal, so be careful.

2.  Wild animals carry diseases.

Many wild animals can be carriers of rabies without showing any symptoms at all.  Skunks, raccoons, and possums are examples of this.  Wild amphibian and reptiles can infect you with salmonella poisoning.  There are reports of tens of thousands of people being infected each year.  By bringing a wild animal into your home you expose your whole family and your pets to potentially fatal diseases.

Raising a Wild Animal as a Pet

3. Wild animals are labeled “wild” for a reason. 

Domestication does not come easily to a wild animal.  It can take centuries for an animal species to domesticate.  Consider stories you have heard of raccoons attacking babies, monkeys attacking their owners, wild cats killing theirs.  A wild animal will stay wild.  And so they should. Please respect that.

4. They don’t stay little forever.

Baby animals, by their very nature, are hard to resist. They are incredibly cute and appear dependent upon others for their very survival. But those little cuties grow up and their natural instincts kick in. They may bite, scratch, tear up the furniture, or worse. (See point #3 above.)  This is when they end up being released back into the wild because they are no longer wanted as “pets”.  But the problem is that the baby animal may not have developed the critical skills necessary — like hunting for food or evading predators — to survive in the wild.  This is highly unfair to the animal.

Raising a Wild Animal as a Pet

5. They may not need rescuing.

You can’t tell for sure.  The animal you find may not actually need your help.  They may not be lost or abandoned.  It may be a case of the mother gone off to find food for her young. Some animal mothers intentionally stay away from their babies’ nesting place to avoid attracting attention to them, only checking up on them when it is necessary.  And we’ve all heard stories of people coming across cute and cuddly baby bears, only to realize too late the mother is watching nearby!

So, please, think twice or three times before thinking about raising a wild animal as a pet.  If you really think the animal needs help, call your local wildlife center.  They’ll now what to do.
Raising a Wild Animal as a Pet

Thank you for listening.  Stay tuned for my own stories about rescuing wild animals.  The difference is that I had guidance from Wildlife Rescue Personnel.


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MY QUESTION FOR YOU TODAY  Have you ever raised a wild animal?  (I won’t tell.)  But I’d love it if you would share your story with us in the comment section below.  Or it would be fun if you wanted to write something up for me to share it here on my blog!  Oh yes!  Please do!


Jeanne Melanson
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20 thoughts on “Raising a Wild Animal as a Pet – 5 REASONS Why You Shouldn’t”

  1. Hi. I liked your post and I know the dangers of keeping wild animals. I would probably take them to an animal hospital if I found one now. For my career, I want to own an animal reservation where we nurse sick or injured animals back to health and then release them into the wild. It has been my dream since I was little; I remember watching Dora and I always loved the episodes with Diego because he was my favorite(he rescued injured animals). I just want to learn all I can about every kind of animal so I know how to care for them all. I want to go to college to be a zoological veterinarian.

  2. When we were kids our dad was able to get a couple baby raccoons over the years. We thought they were so cute and would even walk them around the yard on a leash.

    That was all well and fine until the female got a little older and suddenly turned mean.

    How true it is that wild animals were meant to be left in the wild. I loved the other reasons/tips you gave as well.

    • so ok thats cool in all thoe ive raised 16 baby birds now the reason i got that many was because i got 9 out of one nest and 7 out of the other and i picked them up and all that and stuff also they were abanded so i had to hatch them even thoe is was a HUGE pain in the but to do that thats my story.

  3. I partially agree with you but some of your reasoning is not sound. You talk of salmonella from amphibians/reptiles and that thousands are infected every year. The truth to that is domestic cats that hunt and domestic dogs that scavange posess a far greater health risk because they still do what wild cats and dogs do. Wolf attacks in a domestic habitat usually occur if the wolf has been cross bred with domestic dogs.
    As I do not agree with wc (wild caught) exotic pets, I do no oppose to cb (captive bred) exotic pets. I keep turtles, bearded dragons and gecko, they all appear more active, content and vibrant than animals in a zoo.
    Not disagreeing with your concerns and I support you but disagree with some points you have risen as they don’t seem to have to much foundation.

    • Good points, Ryan! I, too, am opposed to all wild-caught animals as pets, because they’re almost impossible, if not downright impossible to train as decent pets. AS the owner of a Captive-bred female pet Congo African Grey Parrot who’s now 12.5 years old, and who I purchased from a reputable pet store in my general area when she was a 2.5 month old baby, I totally agree with you here. We’re on the same page. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. I never raised wild animals and as you mentioned there are many reasons why you should be careful to look after them.

    • Raising wild animals, imho, is tempting fate, if one gets the drift. There’ve been too many instances when a wild animal kept as a pet has gone on a rampage, destroying property, and even seriously injuring or killing their owner(s) outright!

  5. I don’t know why anyone would even consider raising a “wild” animal lol It just seems like a really bad idea to me. If they’ve been in the wild for some time, they probably have all sorts of disease.

  6. I agree that wild animal belong in the wild. It is what’s best for them. I always wanted a monkey as a pet. Great post!

    • As the owner of a pet female Congo African Grey Parrot who was born and raised in captivity, and has a metal band on her leg to prove it, I, too, am dead-set against keeping wild animals as pets. The same thing is true of imported wild-caught exotic birds. Not only are wild-caught exotic birds (i. e. cockatoos, African Grey parrots, etc.) almost, if not downright impossible to train to be decent pets, but they’re far more temperamental, and even more likely to carry disease. Moreover, most of the wild-caught, imported exotic birds are subject to such inhumane conditions and manhandling during importation, do not survive the whole ordeal.

      As for monkeys, they’re so close to humans, that that can be rather vicious. I’d never get any wild-caught pets, and never will.

  7. The only animals I had as pets are dogs and aquarium fish. I would never (not in my wildest dreams) even think of raising a wild animal. I totally agree with you that some of these animals carry diseases. I would not want to be the one to start a plague.

  8. Great post. I foster animals in my home, but never wild animals. I wish more people were educated! Thank you for sharing.

  9. I rescued an opossum from the side of the road when I was young. Turned him over to the wildlife center nearby. We also had a flying squirrel land in our fireplace when our flew was open. We released him into the wild too. Heck, I’m even attached to my two snails. LOL

  10. Hi Jeanne ,
    I like animals more where they belong ,
    I would help and keep one if needed for a while ,
    but release again .
    I think better have them free


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