While in theory any animal might be a pet, in practice only a small number of species of mammals (especially dogs and cats) and other small animals, such as birds, fish, or lizards, are practical. One reason for this is that large animals are not able to fit inside small dwellings.
In general, a pet must either be small enough (or easily controlled) for his or her undesirable behavioral tendencies to be negligible, or the animal must be actually domesticable. Examples of the former are such animals as fish (including carnivorous ones such as piranha), chickens, invertebrates or small reptiles.
A few animals are sufficiently capable of adapting to human interaction to be considered domesticable. Dogs (“man’s best friend”) are considered to be a classic example of domesticated animals normally suited to being pets. Domestic dogs are quite similar to wolves, but their physical form and behavior are characteristically different, more than mere differences in size, coat, or coloring. Behaviorally speaking, characteristic changes in dogs due to domestication include a prolonged infancy, increased playfulness, and barking. Wolves are far less playful and don’t bark.
Domestic cats appear to be less changed behaviorally by their association with humans, in comparison; however, they do fit the example of an animal being small enough to control. The same hunting tendencies that make domestic cats useful for control of vermin make its larger, wild relatives too dangerous for domestication. Even small wild felines, such as bobcats or ocelots, can seriously injure or kill a human.
Primates have a wide variety of properties that can lead to being good pets, but most species have certain characteristics that exclude them from being ideal pets. Common chimpanzees — especially males — are not willing to allow humans to “take the lead” when they are adults, and as a result, they make for poor pets. Gorillas, mainly female ones, are rather better in this respect, though considerably larger. Bonobos, being more social than common chimpanzees, may be more suited to being pets when adult, but exhibit overt sexual behavior which is not accepted from pets in most human societies.
Many horses and related animals are suitable for human companionship as pets or work animals, while zebras, otherwise quite similar, are not. Zebras use biting as a means of expressing conflict within the herd, and this behavior seems quite unchangeable. By human standards, the biting would be rather savage. Horses and donkeys, on the other hand, don’t have a biting habit quite as deep-seated or dangerous.
Many rodents such as fancy rats, fancy mice, and golden hamsters are commonly kept as household pets.
Animals such as reptiles are typically considered exotic pets. This may change in the future, as ‘exotic’ pet ownership is increasing rapidly. Some of these animals, such as green iguanas, large monitor lizard species, and large birds, do not make suitable pets for the average person as they require extensive housing and diet. They can also become quite aggressive if not regularly handled. Exotic mammals are also becoming increasingly more popular as pets. For example, the domesticated hedgehog has been selectively bred to the point where its physical characteristics no longer directly match its wild European and African counterparts.
Many animal species are difficult to handle and cannot be pets for the general populace. Raptors, such as eagles and falcons, must be handled very carefully to avoid attacks on their handlers; the sport of falconry is to a large extent ways of avoiding such outcomes, and so they are not really pets in the sense meant here. Large cats cannot become pets, as they do not reliably restrain their impulses (although cheetahs are an exception and have been kept as pets in the past). Nor do the large bears, for similar reasons. Small monkeys can be human companions, but they are notoriously unable to defer their curiosity which leads to much destruction. Several of the ferret and otter varieties can be human companions. Raccoons also fit this example. They adapt easily to almost any environment, but resist domestication.
A pet can be acquired from an animal shelter, a breeder, and from private transactions, typically due to the giving away of extra newborns after the birth of a litter. See also pet adoption. Because of environmental and public safety concerns, some pets are illegal in many jurisdictions.
Owning a pet is a lifestyle, there is a lot to consider when choosing the right pet for you. We can suggest the right pet for you so you make the right choice when choosing a life long friendship with your pet.