Facts about the animal kingdom

The Most Exotic Animals in the World

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: March 12, 2020
The Most Exotic Animals in the World

On planet earth we find an immense variety of animals and living beings. All are special and have unique qualities that make them extremely distinct. There are all kinds of mammals, birds, fish or insects that will fascinate and shock us with their appearance and behavior. However, there are some which are more commonly known as being exotic. They are so due to their rarity and uniqueness.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article to discover, the most exotic animals in the world. By looking at this list of exotic animals with picture, you will see why planet Earth is an such amazing place.

You may also be interested in: 10 Most Beautiful Animals in the World
  1. What makes an animal exotic?
  2. Slow Loris
  3. Mandarin duck
  4. Tapir
  5. Pink grasshopper
  6. Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede
  7. Leafy seadragon
  8. Fanfin Angler
  9. Japanese macaque
  10. Pink dolphin
  11. Liger
  12. Atelopus frog
  13. Pangolin
  14. Fennec fox
See more >>

What makes an animal exotic?

The most common use of the term ‘exotic’ is relative. Its usage will largely depend on where you live. For example, if you live in the United Kingdom a sloth will be a very rare sighting since they do not live wild there. However, if you live in certain parts of Costa Rica, you can see sloths fairly commonly when you are out walking. This shows that animals which are considered ‘foreign’ or ‘unusual’ will depend on the context.

What is a little more easy to define is when we use the adjective ‘exotic’ in relation to pets. In this usage, we are discussing pets which are not commonly kept domestically in a given area. A dog is not an exotic pet in the United States of America, but its relative the hyena would be if kept domestically.

The reason why we need to make a distinction between exotic and non-exotic pets is due to how they are kept. Some people get enticed by the idea of having a pet which is different from the usual, but often they are not kept as pets as a reason. Dogs, cats and other animals have gone through a millennia-long process of domestication. This makes them suited to living as a pet. Other animals have not and taking them away from their wild habitat is often both cruel and dangerous.

A good example is the otter. While otters are adorably cute, keeping them as pets is usually not good for either them or the household. It also helps to support an illegal animal trade which runs on the abuse of animals and the destruction of wild animal populations and habitat.

The reason exotic animals are so appealing to us is because they are rare and amazing. While we show you our list of the world's most exotic animals, we hope you keep in mind we should support their protection in the wild, not encourage keeping them as pets.

Slow Loris

The internet-famous slow Loris is a type of primate that lives in Asia. Their evolutionary history is mysterious since only fossil remains of their ancestors have been found. The slow loris doesn't have any means of protection against their predators, so they developed a gland in their armpits that oozes poison. They lick the secretion and when mixed with their saliva it becomes active, and then they bite their predators. They may even apply the poison in the coat of their young to protect them.

They are a species threatened with extinction and their main predator is the human being. In addition to the deforestation of their habitat, illegal trade is the main problem of this small mammal.

Possession of a Slow Loris as a pet is illegal worldwide. In addition, the complicated task of separating a mother from her offspring ends in the death of the parent. It is also known that some traffickers tear their teeth out with tweezers or nail clippers to make them appropriate for children and to avoid poisoning. Horrific.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Slow Loris

Mandarin duck

Hailing from China, Japan and Russia and introduced in Europe, the mandarin duck is a race appreciated by its enormous beauty. The male possesses a variety of incredible colors like green, fuchsia, blue, brown, cream and orange. Because of its color, they have become one of the most exotic animals in the world.

They usually inhabit areas close to lakes, ponds or lagoons. They are considered carriers of good fortune throughout Asia, as well as affection and conjugal love. In important weddings they are sometimes offered as the main gift.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Mandarin duck


The tapir is a large herbivorous mammal inhabiting wooded areas of South America, Central America and Southeast Asia. It has one of the oldest families spanning about 55 million years. They have a very versatile trunk and are docile and calm animals. They are in danger of extinction, especially in Mexico, due to indiscriminate hunting, their low reproductive potential and the destruction of their habitat.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Tapir

Pink grasshopper

It is common to see green, brown and even white grasshoppers. However, the pink grasshopper is of this color because of a recessive gene that they develop, unlike other grasshoppers. Although there is an isolated case of every 50,000, it is believed that the survival of this type of grasshopper is due to their color. This is mainly because they are no longer attractive to the eyes of predators.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Pink grasshopper

Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede

The Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede or Scolopendra gigantea is a giant centipede species found in the lowlands of Venezuela, Colombia, Trinidad and Jamaica. They are carnivorous animals that feed on reptiles, amphibians, and even mammals such as mice and bats.

They can exceed 30 centimeters in length and has poison pliers with which they can produce pain, chills, fever and weakness. Only one case of human death by the venom of the giant yellow-leg centipede in Venezuela is known.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Peruvian giant yellow-leg centipede

Leafy seadragon

The leafy sea dragon, is a beautiful marine fish of the same family as the seahorse. Originally from Australia, they have long leaf-shaped extensions that are distributed throughout their body, which helps them camouflage themselves. This is one of the most desired exotic animals in the world.

They look like floating algae and because of their physical characteristics, they are the object of various threats. They are trapped by collectors and even used in alternative medicine. Their current status is of minor concern, yet they are protected by the Australian government.

Getting sea dragons for your aquarium is a difficult and expensive process as distributing them requires special licenses to ensure the proper origin or permits. Still, captive support is very difficult and most individuals die.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Leafy seadragon

Fanfin Angler

The Fanfin angler inhabits the deepest and most hidden areas of the world's oceans and there is hardly any clear information about their behavior and life. They have a small luminous organ with which they attract their prey.

The difficulties they have in finding a mate in the dark means large females become hosts of the male that enters inside her body like a parasite - keeping them fertilized for life.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Fanfin Angler

Japanese macaque

The Japanese macaque lives in the region of Jigokudani. They are the only primates adapted to extremely cold temperatures and their survival is due to the woolly mantle that they possess that isolates them from the cold. Accustomed to human presence, during the inhospitable winter, they spend long hours enjoying thermal baths, where they share with individuals of a higher social class. They have sex in a heterosexual and homosexual way.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Japanese macaque

Pink dolphin

The pink dolphin lives in the tributaries of the Amazon and the Orinoco basin. They feed on fish, river turtles and crabs. The total population volume is unknown and is therefore included in the IUCN Red List. They are kept in captivity in some aquariums of the world, however, they are difficult to train which causes them high mortality to live in non-wild state. The pink dolphin is considered a true exotic animal because of its incredible character and color.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Pink dolphin


This is the hybrid produced between the crossing of the male lion and the female tiger. They can reach up to 4 meters in length and their appearance is large and bulky. There is no known adult male case that is not sterile. In addition to the liger, the Tigon is also known as the fruit of a cross between a male tiger and a lioness. Only one non-sterile case of Tigon is known.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Liger

Atelopus frog

There are several species of Atelopus, known for their bright colors and tiny size. Most of them, already extinct in the wild, are maintained due to captivity. They become the most exotic family of frogs in the world for their variety of colors such as yellow and black, blue and black or fuchsia and black.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Atelopus frog


The Pangolin is a type of mammal with large scales and lives in tropical areas of Asia and Africa. Although they do not possess a primary weapon against predators, the powerful legs they use to dig have enough force to break a human leg in one swoop!

They also emit foul-smelling acids to ward off predators or hide by digging holes in record time. They live alone or in pairs and populations have been reduced by the excessive demand of their meat in China. They are known for non-existent medicinal powers and are victims of trafficking.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Pangolin

Fennec fox

To finish, we will show you the Fennec fox or desert fox. They are mammals that inhabit the Sahara and Arabia and are perfectly adapted to the arid climate. Their large ears are used as ventilation. They are not a threatened species but the CITES agreement regulates their trade and distribution for their protection. They are tremendously small reaching 21 centimeters high and 1.5 kilograms in weight. This adorable exotic animal is one of the most beautiful in the world.

The Most Exotic Animals in the World - Fennec fox

If you enjoyed this article you may be interested in the most endangered animals in North America and endangered animals in the Great Barrier Reef.

If you want to read similar articles to The Most Exotic Animals in the World, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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The Most Exotic Animals in the World