14 Awesome & Weird Pets You Didn’t Know You Could Adopt

Ready for some wild and wonderfully weird pet love? Consider adopting one of these 14 cool critters, and give a quirky companion a second shot at the good life!

Published November 21, 2023

When people talk about pet adoption, they usually refer to adopting a cat or dog. But there are plenty of other unique and weird pets that you can adopt. From chinchillas to llamas and even fish (yes, fish!), consider heading to your shelter to adopt one of these critters before shopping for one.

1. Fish


Along with all the dogs and cats in shelters, there are also many fish in need of homes. You can find goldfish, betta, koi, and tons of other species on national adoption sites like Petfinder. Some of these fishies were relinquished because their owners moved and couldn’t transport them, or they outgrew their aquarium.

2. Hamsters


Hamsters aren’t necessarily weird pets, but a lot of people are unaware that you can actually find them up for adoption. These furry critters are a very popular choice as a first pet and ideal for busy owners because they don’t need as much attention as many other small pets.   

Quick Tip

Looking for a class pet? Adopting one can be a great teaching moment for the class, and you’ll save a life in the process.

3. Snakes


What’s a long, slithery, and unusual pet that you can adopt? A snake! Pet snakes are increasing in popularity, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. Even “small” snake species grow to be three feet long and need a lot more space than most people think. Unfortunately, that’s why a lot of these misunderstood pets need to be rehomed.

4. Goats


Barnyard animals like goats are also plentiful in shelters. Goats are super intelligent and playful pets, but they’re definitely not for everyone. They’re climbers who will find their way out of most fences and will eat just about anything. But if you are looking for a goat, consider adopting one to give one of these curious pets a loving second home.

5. Pigs


Pigs are definitely unique pets, but they can make excellent companions for the right household. It’s really important to know that most pet pigs aren’t as small as the media portrays them to be. Even “mini” pigs reach between 50 and 150 pounds at their adult weight, which is one reason people end up needing to find new homes for their pigs.

Quick Tip

Before adopting one of these smart pets, make sure it’s legal to own a pig in your area. A lot of municipalities don’t allow you to keep them within city limits.

6. Bearded Dragons


The pet store isn’t the only place you can find pet beardies; check out your local shelter or reptile rescue. These tiny dinos can grow up to two feet long, so make sure you have the right habitat and enough space before considering adoption.

7. Frogs


If you’re OK with a hands-off pet, then a frog might be a great choice for you. There are endless different species you can choose from, but the White’s tree frog is a great choice for beginners

Helpful Hack

Exotics rescues are the most likely place to find a pet frog for adoption, but some open admission shelters receive them as well and will rehome them if they can.

8. Rats


Rats are at the top of the list as the most misunderstood, weird pets out there. These furry critters are incredibly friendly, cuddly, and super smart. Just know that rats do best in pairs because they’re incredibly social pets, so definitely consider adopting not just one but two of these cuties.

9. Chickens


Have you always wanted chickens? You can adopt them! The great thing about adopting adult chickens instead of buying them as chicks is that you won’t end up with any surprise roosters, although if you specifically want a rooster, you can certainly find plenty in search of homes. Just keep in mind that these birds are social and do best outdoors, so be prepared to keep a couple (or more) in a coop.

Fast Fact

Chickens need protection from predators and are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so read up on their housing needs before getting one or a flock.

10. Tarantulas


Tarantulas are indeed awesome and weird pets. These arachnids are generally low-maintenance and don’t need a lot of attention or handling. In fact, they prefer not to be handled, so they’re a great choice if you want a hands-off pet. Plus, they’re just downright cool.

11. Sheep


Think a sheep is the perfect pet for ewe? It’s definitely possible! Like other livestock animals, they need shelter, space for grazing, and specialized veterinary care. Sheep are very social and affectionate, so don’t be surprised if your newly adopted buddy follows you around and rubs up against you any chance they get!  

12. Chinchillas


Chinchillas are fascinating little rodents, which is why people flock to them. But their care requirements are more complex and specific compared to a lot of the other small pets out there. Not to mention, they can live up to 20 years. Because they’re social critters, you’ll probably come across quite a few bonded pairs through shelters and chinchilla rescues.

Fast Fact

Although they're considered exotic pets and not allowed in all localities, chinchillas were domesticated in the 19th century, so bringing one home is an option if you're prepared to meet their substantial needs.

13. Llamas


Llamas are large, curious pets that need plenty of space, but if you have a barn and land, it’s definitely possible. Llamas are very social and form incredibly strong bonds with their human parents. Because they thrive on companionship, it’s often best to get a pair so they have a buddy around continuously. Specialized rescues, like The Llama Sanctuary, are your best bet when looking for adoptable llamas.

14. Parrots


Yes, you can adopt parrots, as well. A lot of large pet birds find themselves in shelters and rescues because they actually outlive their owners or people buy them before realizing their very real and very big needs. Many species can live 50 to 60 years or more and are as smart as small children! Before bringing home one of these chatty and intelligent pets, make sure you’re up for not just a life-long commitment but the energy and time their care requires.

Animal Shelters Have Everything


No matter what species you settle on, whether that’s a snake, chinchilla, or even a llama, chances are good there are plenty of pets out there in need of homes. Reach out to your local shelter to inquire with them, research species-specific rescues in your area, or search for your new pet on a national database like Petfinder. Your new buddy is definitely out there!

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14 Awesome & Weird Pets You Didn’t Know You Could Adopt