The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Some Unusual Shelter Animals You May Not Have Known You Could Adopt The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Some Unusual Shelter Animals You May Not Have Known You Could Adopt

Friday, August 3, 2018

Some Unusual Shelter Animals You May Not Have Known You Could Adopt

Although dogs and cats remain by far the most common pet to rescue and adopt, other kinds of animals do end up in shelters. From farm animals to small rodents and even reptiles, there are plenty of options if you’re looking to bring home a different kind of furry or scaly — friend.

While some of these animals end up in shelters because an owner moves away, plenty of them are abandoned by “impulse buyers” who change their mind after buying a needy breed of pig or chinchilla, experts say.

For that reason, Dana Puglisi of, which has listings for more than a dozen species of shelter animals, said that it’s important to read up on animal needs if you’re interested in adopting an atypical pet.

“It’s very easy to look at an animal and say, ‘That’s such a cute animal, I want it to be a part of my life,” Puglisi tells NBC. “It’s another thing to take on the actual day-to-day responsibility for caring for that pet.” 

In addition, some states have restrictions on what kind of animal you can keep as a pet, so Puglisi said she also suggests checking local laws before reaching out to a shelter.

Below are some of the unusual shelter animals you may not have known you could adopt:

Holy cow, indeed! In areas with more farmland, shelters and sanctuaries like Animal Place in Grass Valley, Calif. may have cows that were rescued from factories. Be sure you have the space and resources to adopt a shelter cow, though, as they need at least 80 square feet of space and over 20 gallons of water a day.

According to, chinchillas are noisy and nocturnal, so it’s best to avoid keeping them in their new owner’s bedroom. Since rescue chinchillas are of unknown parentage and may not be neutered, owners should plan to keep them apart from opposite-sex chins in order to avoid accidental breeding.

The right breed of pig can make for an adorable rescue animal — and a shelter is often the best way to find one. Puglisi said that more and more pig owners are abandoning their pets after being tricked into bringing home baby farm pigs that put on hundreds of pounds as they grow up. If you have the space, you can adopt one of these larger abandoned pigs, but shelters also have plenty of smaller breeds, like Vietnamese miniature pot-bellies.

Parrots (as well as other tropical birds like parakeets) are often left behind at shelters when owners move away or become unable to keep caring for these sometimes needy birds. As with some other animals on this list, though, be sure to check local regulations if you choose to adopt — parrots aren’t allowed to be kept as pets in some states.

If there’s anything to learn from the recent goat yoga fitness craze, it’s that these farm animals can serve as fun, furry additions to the family. While regular-size goats can be found in some shelters, a few also have pint-sized pygmy goats up for adoption for anyone short on space. Who knows, they might even eat the weeds in your yard.

Equestrian lovers can adopt either full-size or miniature horses, like Smooshy, a dwarf miniature horse adopted by actress Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory.” Mini-horses in particular are seeing a surge in shelters right now, Puglisi said, as “impulse buyers” purchase and then abandon the horses they use to emulate celebrity horse owners.

From king snakes to corn snakes to Colombian boa constrictors, there’s plenty of shelter serpents snakes that you can adopt into your home. Most snakes are carnivores or omnivores, and they require a steady diet of other animals in order to be well-fed — so be prepared to keep “mousicles” inside your freezer.

These tail-wagging mammals make for active, friendly pets to adopt or even house temporarily through foster programs for older or sick ferrets. Watch your fingers, though — ferrets are also known for biting.

Bearded Dragons
They may not be quite like the Viking pets in “How to Train Your Dragon,” but shelter bearded dragons can let you support shelters while (sort of) living out a mythical animal fantasy. Sometimes known as “beardies,” these reptiles originated in central Australia and are often kept in zoos. They’re considered one of the easiest reptiles to care for, but still need a specific light pattern and large tank.


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