Do Wild Animals Like to be Pets?

When we think of wild animals we think of animals who have never lived and existed in a domesticated manner with humans, like African lions and hyenas. The Free Dictionary defines ‘wild animals’ as ‘animals that have not been domesticated or tamed and are usually living in a natural environment, including both game and non-game species.’

To understand the full meaning of the question and to find out if wild animals do like to be domesticated or tamed lets look at how the word ‘pet’ is defined.

The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘pet’ as ‘an animal that is kept in the home as a companion and treated kindly’.

The majority of wild animals don’t receive fulfilling lives when living in a modern house. Over millions of years most wild animals have developed complex instincts, needs and ways of living they cannot achieve living in today’s homes with humans. Wild animals need to be among others of their own species, in their natural habitat.

Trying to Turn a Wild Animal into a Pet can be Dangerous

A major reason not to try to keep a wild animal at home is you may get hurt. In August 2019 a Florida man was killed when his cassowary (the world’s most dangerous bird), he kept on his property attacked him when he fell into the giant bird’s pen. The owner received many lacerations across his face, back, abdomen, thighs, neck, legs and right arm. A severed brachial artery, on his upper arm killed him.

Man Injured By Pet Black Leopard

Another shocking reminder of how dangerous wild animals can be in captivity was in 2020, when a man in Florida paid $150 to pet a black leopard in it’s cage which was kept in a local house. As soon as he approached the leopard, the big cat pounced and bit off half his ear and ripped his scalp. You could say the man’s desire to treat the wild animal kindly and be a companion thus making the leopard a pet did not go down well at all.

Man Killed by Pet Hippo

Despite warnings, the temptation to take a potentially dangerous wild animal and try make it a pet can sway people to try, despite the dangers. In December 2020 a South African man was killed by a hippopotamus he described as like his son. The man had adopted the hippo when it was found as a calf. The grown hippo responded to his calls, regularly played with him, let the man clean his teeth and even ride him on pleasurable journeys.

“It’s a little bit dangerous, but I trust him with my heart that he will not harm anybody,” Els said, according to Daily Mirror. “I can swim with him. I go in the water. He allows me to get on his back, and I ride him like a horse. He swims with me.”

He added: “He’s like a son to me.”

He was found in the river with several bite marks on his body.

Responsibility for Injuries Caused by a Wild Animal as a Pet

Remember, if a wild animal attacks a guest or somebody in your home the owner is legally responsible and can face a hefty bill in legal damages, even if the injury is not too serious. And if the time comes when the owner has had enough of risking life and limb, finding a new home for a large or potentially dangerous animal can be problematic, if not impossible in a modern city or suburb.

In this world of an estimated 8.7 million different species of animals: 6.5 million species on land and 2.2 million in oceans there must be a few cases of wild animals who conversely do like to be pets you’d think?

Exceptions to the Rule

A recent letter to the New York Times was from a lady who’s neighbor had taken in a New York pigeon as a pet, tying string around its leg. Elizabeth Young, the founder of Palomacy, a San Francisco pigeon rescue organization, said they make surprisingly good pets.

Pigeons are highly intelligent homing birds, typically with a calm, mild disposition. “Pigeons are probably the safest, least problematic pet anyone could have,” Ms. Young said. “They don’t bite, chew or scratch, and they are very quiet.” The paper rightly warned that pets such as pigeons need to be treated humanely with space in a an apartment or an animal watch group should be contacted. We will never know if the pigeon liked to be the woman’s pet as it had no choice in the matter.

Do Wild Animals Like to be Pets?
Do Wild Animals Like to be Pets? Pigeons Have Been Taken As Pets

Wild Foxes As Pets

In Kent, England, a man found an injured red fox and let it sleep in a pen in his garden. He soon gained the fox’s trust by petting its cheek. The fox began to brush against the man and enjoy having his stomach petted. Soon the fox was spending several hours every evening the man’s home and even goes for country walks on the end of a dog leash.

Anyone watching them together can tell you this wild fox does like being a pet. A drawback is the fox is not ideally suited for domestic toilet training; they leave powerful scent marks which are hard to remove. The take away from this heart warming account is the new owner was not risking his or anyone else’s life as foxes are not dangerous, like all wild animals they can carry disease so it would be advised to allow a vet to give your new furry friend a check up before welcoming it into human environment.

A Wild Fox in Kent England Became a Pet

Taking Wild Animals From the Wild Could Endanger The Species

It is well known birds like African grey parrots make good pets if they’ve been born in captivity. African grey parrots are known to be clever mimics. Alex, one of the most well-known African grey parrots in the world, was trained to mimic over 100 human words and even said good night to his trainer every day. Unsurprisingly, the friendly and smart grey birds are popular as pets.

Do Wild Animals Like to be Pets? Room to Fly and Companions are Best
Do Wild Animals Like to be Pets? Room to Fly and Companions are Best

Owners say they are sociable, seem to like humans and enjoy domesticated life when they are correctly cared for. However, the grey parrot is a good example when international trade can decimate a species in the wild simply for financial gain. Since 1992, the country of Ghana has lost between 90% and 99% of grey parrots in the wild.

Wild Parrots in Captivity

We don’t know for sure if a bird likes to be taken from the wild or how the bird feels, or do we? PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) claim

“Birds are meant to fly and be with others of their own kind. Considering that some parrots fly 30 miles per day in the wild, it’s no wonder that confinement can cause birds to have temper tantrums and mood swings.”

Birds imported from the wild are often frightened and high-strung, and both hand-raised and wild-caught birds often become neurotic, pulling out feathers and mutilating themselves, sometimes to the point of death.


Notwithstanding, how a wild bird feels, the moral question should be asked: is it right to risk losing a species of wild animal in the wild for our own entertainment or financial gain?

Fantastic Wildlife says wild African grey parrots like other endangered wild animals should be banned by placing the species on Appendix I of CITES.

If the bird is already in captivity the least an owner can do is find someone with birds of the same species and where they have a free-flight home to offer them the best quality of life possible.

For Health Reasons it can be Dangerous Taking Wild Animals from their Natural Habitat

Like humans wild animals can carry disease, though their ailments are never treated so they are more prevalent and can be passed onto humans. For example avian influenza viruses have caused rare, intermittent infections in humans, resulting in illnesses ranging from mild to severe. Viruses can be breathed in or get into eyes and into the nose.

If you believe you’ve been infected you can follow advice from the Center of Disease, Control and Prevention.

Lizards, snakes, turtles and reptiles too can carry bacteria called Salmonella that can cause serious illness in humans

The list of zoonotic diseases is vast. According to Healthline the following list are prevalent in wild animals (among the diseases humans can catch from wild animals):

  • animal flu
  • anthrax
  • avian flu
  • bovine tuberculosis
  • brucellosis
  • campylobacter infection
  • cryptosporidiosis
  • cysticercosis
  • dengue fever
  • ebola
  • encephalitis from ticks
  • enzootic abortion
  • erysipeloid
  • fish tank granuloma
  • giardiasis
  • glanders
  • hemorrhagic colitis
  • hepatitis E
  • hydatid disease
  • leptospirosis
  • listeria infection
  • louping ill
  • lyme disease
  • lymphocytic choriomeningitis
  • malaria
  • orf infection
  • parrot fever
  • pasteurellosis
  • plague
  • Q fever
  • rabies
  • rat-bite fever
  • ringworm
  • rocky mountain spotted fever
  • salmonella and e coli infections
  • streptococcal sepsis

In Conclusion

Wild animals mostly do not like being made pets as this entails they are taken from their natural habitat, they’ve been adapted to survive in. Secondly, it means the life they knew, of hunting, surviving, socializing is replaced by often cramped conditions, solitude and unfamiliar human contact. Most wild animals see humans as prey or predator and are not comfortable existing in cohabitation or close contact.

As with most things in life there are exceptions to the rule and the case of the Kent fox where a wild animal befriended a human is an endearing true account.

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