Five Unusual Family Pets Your Family Will Love

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When you think of a family pet, most will automatically think of traditional pets like dogs, cats, fish or birds; the most common pets found in Australian households. With our backyards getting smaller combined with recent legislative changes across a number of states, this has seen an increasing number of Australians become owners of some more not-so-traditional pets.

Due to the growing phenomenon of owning unusual pets, the Australian Veterinarian Association established a Special Interest Group in 2013 for vets to specifically discuss the medical treatment of some of our more unusual animal friends.  In recognition of the latest trend of owning a ‘cool’ pet, here are some of the more unusual pets found around the country today.


Commonly known as Mexican Walking Fish, axolotls are amphibian creatures that resemble large tadpoles. They are relatively easy to look after, prefer a solitary life and normally live 12-15 years. They are relatively cheap to care for however you will need a tank and associated equipment so include that in your initial budget. They are great pets for teens or families with limited space.


Generally known to be placid, pythons can live up to 30 years. Not recommended for families with children under 10, pythons must be treated gently and with respect as they are known to lash out if they feel threatened. Although reptiles are expensive to keep, pythons as pets have become more popular across Australia with the relaxation of regulations* about ownership.

Hermit Crabs

Unusual Family Pets

Although one of the most popular sellers at pet stores, it has been a number of years since I have come across a family with hermit crabs. Cheap to buy, but not including the initial outlay for a tank, hermit crabs are reasonably cheap to keep but costs may be more than you expect. Hermit crabs are social creatures and can survive from a few months up to a couple of years. Great for older kids who are learning or have a level of responsibility.

Miniature Pigs

The first thing you imagine when you think of a miniature pig is that it is tiny. Like the breed says, a teacup, but that is not the case. Similar to the training required for a dog, pigs are very intelligent and loyal creatures with even the miniature varieties growing up to 60 cm high and weighing 100 kg. Requiring lots of time and space, pet pigs have been known to be destructive when bored, just like dogs!  Many unsuspecting people have been ‘duped’ when buying a miniature pig and actually purchase a regular pig that will grow even larger. Great for farms or families with acreage.

Australian Tarantulas

The biggest breed of Australian Tarantula also happens to be the most popular pet spider. Growing up to 16 cms, they will eat almost anything that enters their burrow with their massive 1 cm long fangs. Apparently owners can develop a strong emotional bond with their pet spider. They don’t require a lot of room and have been known to live 25 years. Remember, tarantulas are venomous to dogs and cats. Suitable for people without severe arachnophobia.

If you are considering a new pet, regardless of the type of animal, always remember responsible pet ownership. Take into consideration the time needed, space required, your budget and whether the animal will suit the lifestyle of your family.

As for me, the moment my son starts to hassle me for an unusual pet, to avoid any future pet Tarantula from crawling over my face while I sleep or the potential of having to feed live mice to a python, I’ll pull out the magnifying glass. It’s about time we go hunting for pet rocks!

Do you own an unusual pet, or would you get one? What other unusual pets do you own?

* Regulations for owning native and exotic animals differ from state to state and these may change at any time. Please research the legal requirements in your jurisdiction before deciding on a native or exotic pet.


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