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The 20 Most Expensive Pets in the World (With Pictures)
Bringing a new pet into your home is an unforgettable experience, but some new pet owners are shocked at the cost of purebred pets, pet supplies, and veterinarian fees. Although rescue organizations and animal shelters are excellent sources for finding affordable pets, many choose to buy from breeders. If you’re hesitant to spend $1,200 on a traditional Siamese kitten, you may be shocked by the sticker prices of the world’s most expensive creatures. The purchase price of these hyper-expensive pets does not include the vet bills, care costs, or exotic pet permits.
Disclaimer: Pet Keen does not endorse the practice of keeping wild animals as pets. This article is for informative and entertainment purposes only.
The 20 Most Expensive Pets in the World
1. Thoroughbred Racehorse
Although he was purchased as a yearling for the low price of $4 million, Fusaichi Pegasus was sold for $70 million in 2000 after winning the Kentucky derby. Thoroughbred racehorses are the most valued and expensive breed of horses, but Fusaichi Pegasus set a record for the most expensive pet. The price may seem steep, but after retiring from racing, the horse commanded astronomical fees as a stud. His most famous offspring, Ruler On Ice, won the Belmont Stakes in 2011.
2. Tibetan Mastiff
Before 2011, the Tibetan Mastiff was ranked lower on the most expensive pets list, but that year the purebred Red Tibetan Mastiff Big Splash was sold for $1.5 million. The ferocious puppy didn’t hold his title for long because, in 2015, a Tibetan Mastiff was sold in China for $1.9 million. The unnamed Mastiff is unlikely to be overcome by a more expensive puppy in the near future. The breeding market for Mastiffs in China was booming six years ago, but it has recently collapsed and caused prices to sink. After several breeding facilities were closed, the giant creatures were set free. Now, the mighty beasts are becoming problematic in rural Tibet. Over 100,000 feral Mastiffs roam the countryside and attack bears, snow leopards, foxes, and humans.
3. Holstein Cow
Missy became the most expensive cow on the planet when she was sold in 2009 for $1.2 million. The award-winning Holstein, whose full name is Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy, is what dairy farmers and bovine breeders dream of. The cow is a genetic marvel that can produce 50% more milk than an ordinary Holstein. Her high price is the result of her champion pedigree and remarkable genetic traits.
Although the cow’s price seems excessive, the animal’s owners secured the rights for selling Missy’s valuable embryos when they purchased the young Holstein.
4. Cloned Labrador
Have you ever wanted to clone your beloved pet? Despite objections from animal rights groups, veterinarians, and biologists, one couple in Florida purchased a cloned Yellow Labrador for $155,000 in 2009. A South Korean firm used the DNA from a beloved dog named Lancelot and injected it into an egg from a surrogate dog. Although shelters euthanize over 900,000 cats and dogs every year in the United States alone, some people are prepared to pay high prices to have a clone rather than rescue one.
5. White Lion Cubs
If you’re fond of rare wild cats, you can hand over $140,000 for a gorgeous white lion cub. Hailing from the Timbavati region of South Africa, white lions carry a recessive gene that gives them their white color. Providing fresh meat, purchasing permits, taking the cat to a specialized wildlife vet, and barricading an enclosure for the cat to live can cost more than the purchase price. Lions are not suited for domestic life, but the states and countries with lacking exotic pet regulations are the ideal spots for wealthy landowners to construct their own private zoos for white lions.
6. Arabian Horse
Although you can buy an Arabian Horse for $15,000, the top stallions and most valuable bloodlines go for $130,000 or more. Arabian horses are one of the oldest breeds, and they’re prized for their beauty and speed. Next to Thoroughbred horses, Arabians get the highest auction prices for show horses and racing bloodlines.
7. Stag Beetle
You can buy a stag beetle in Japan for as little as $10 or as much as $1,500. However, the rarer giant stag beetles command higher prices, and in 1999, one unknown Japanese resident paid $90,000 for a larger-than-average stag beetle. Fireflies, beetles, and crickets are beloved pets in Japan, and Japanese pet stores look much different than western stores. Since their stores are stocked with expensive insects, Japanese store owners struggle to protect their merchandise from thieves. Unlike a prized dog or cat, beetles are much easier to steal.
Although several countries have banned the importation of apes used as pets, several wealthy pet owners find ways of buying chimpanzees and other apes and monkeys from smugglers. A young chimpanzee can cost $60,000, but most activists and animal lovers frown upon keeping apes as pets. Young chimps command the highest prices because they’re more adorable and open to training. However, chimps stay with their mothers for up to five years in the wild before venturing out alone. Smugglers disrupt the chimps’ development and socialization skills when they steal them from their mothers.
Some prized champion camels can sell for millions, but a pet owner in a western country can expect to pay $20,000 to $50,000 for a camel. In North Africa and Middle Eastern countries, camel racing is a massive industry, and racing camels are valued as high as thoroughbred horses. Over 90% of the domesticated camels in the world are Dromedaries (with one hump). The two hump varieties, Wild Bacterian and Bacterian camels, are less common and mostly live in Asia.
10. Savannah Cat
Resembling a small leopard, the Savannah cat can cost up to $20,000 for a prized pedigree. Although it looks like a wild cat, it’s a hybrid breed that resulted from mating a Siamese with a wild Serval. For experienced cat owners, a Savannah makes an excellent pet. They’re fiercely loyal to their owners and wary of strangers. However, some countries like Australia banned the cats after they had issues with local wildlife.
11. Palm Cockatoo
Because of difficulties with breeding the species, Palm Cockatoos are rarer and more expensive than other Cockatoos. Also called the Great Black Cockatoo, the bird can cost as much as $20,000. They’re one of the loudest parrot species, and they have a diverse inventory of vocalizations. They’re rare birds because they have slow mating habits, and their habitats are disappearing due to human development. A female Palm Cockatoo typically lays a single egg every two years.
12. Hyacinth Macaw
Like the Palm Cockatoo, the Hyacinth Macaw has a slow breeding pattern, and its rarity has driven up the price. You can expect to pay $5,000 to $12,000 for an infant Hyacinth. The gorgeous bird has bright blue plumage with shades of yellow around its eyes and lower beak. Taking Macaws from the wild is illegal in their home countries (central and eastern South America), but illicit smugglers continue to steal eggs from the mothers’ nests to make significant profits.
13. De Brazza’s Monkey
Hailing from Central Africa, the De Brazza’s Monkey is one of the oldest monkey species. It has a vibrant orange diadem above its eyes and a dense white beard that makes it appear older than its actual age. De Brazza’s Monkeys are standard features of zoos around the world, but some pet owners are willing to shell out $10,000 for an infant. Raising a De Brazza as a pet is a big commitment. The monkeys can live up to 30 years in captivity.
14. Capuchin Monkey
Capuchin Monkeys are considered the most intelligent of the New World Monkeys. Their sharp brains have helped them become television stars, movie extras, and sideshow performers. Unfortunately, their intelligence has also made them a favorite subject for laboratory experiments. Capuchins are one of the few monkeys that can use tools and pick up on behaviors from other animals. If you have $10,000, you can own one as a pet.
International exotic pet regulations limit the number of countries that allow Toucans, but if you live in an area with slacker restrictions, you can own the beautiful bird for $8,000 to $10,000. Much like the lifespan of a domesticated cat, Toucans can live 15 to 20 years. In the ideal environment, Toucans can make exceptional pets. They’re lively and affectionate to their owners, but their food expenses can be steep. They only eat fresh tropical fruit and vegetables.
16. Bengal Cat
Next to the Savannah, the Bengal is one of the most expensive domesticated cats. It can cost $3,000 to $5,000 from a qualified breeder. The Bengal is the result of breeding hybrid domesticated cats like the Egyptian Mau with the Asian Leopard cat. The cat looks like a miniature cheetah, but its temperament is suited for domestic family life. Bengals are vocal creatures that frequently talk to their owners when they need attention or food.
Resembling a small kangaroo, the wallaby is a friendly marsupial that is more suited for pet ownership than a kangaroo. Wallabies are not legal to own in most places except for Victoria, Australia, but some residents of other Australian territories ignore the laws because they enjoy keeping the marsupials as pets. Wallabies are tamer than kangaroos, and some are affectionate and loyal towards their owners. You can pay $2,000 to $4,000 for a young wallaby.
18. Rhesus Macaque
Rhesus Macaques are Old World monkeys, and for around $4,000, you can own one as a pet. Like the Capuchins, Rhesus monkeys are familiar sights in research facilities. Although they’re not overly aggressive, they’re not ideal for the average pet owner. Because they have frequently attacked children, adults, and other pets, they’re ranked as one of the worst exotic pets to own by PetWatch and EcoHealth Alliance.
For $3,000, you can purchase a baby kangaroo. The marsupials originated from Australia, but their home state forbids citizens from owning kangaroos. After the kangaroo population exploded, the Australian government allowed permitted gun owners to shoot the animals to control their numbers. If you live in one of 13 states, including Washington, Illinois, and Texas, in the United States, you can legally own a kangaroo.
20. Tiger Cub
Although rarer white tiger cubs can cost as much as $10,000, you can purchase a young tiger cub for as low as $3,000. It seems unusual that you can buy a wild cat for less than the price of an English Bulldog, but owning an exotic pet is sometimes as simple as adopting a rescue animal, depending on your country’s regulations. Tigers are not good pets, but their wild instincts do not prevent wealthy and possibly eccentric pet lovers from acquiring them. In the United States, there are an estimated 15,000 exotic cats kept as pets.
Is Owning an Exotic Pet Legal?
In most countries, exotic pet ownership is banned or strictly limited. However, North America is a great place to be an exotic pet owner. Mexico has fewer restrictions on wild animal ownership than any other country, and you can purchase wild cats for as low as $2,000. In the United States, each state determines the legality of exotic animals.
Some states have comprehensive bans on all wild animals, but in North Carolina, Nevada, and Alabama, you can own practically any type of wild animal. In 2020, a neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina was on high alert when a careless resident lost his spitting cobra. Luckily, the snake was caught by animal control experts before it harmed the neighborhood children or pets.
What Does Exotic Pet Ownership Entail?
Owning an exotic animal is discouraged by several health organizations, governments, and animal rights groups like the Humane Society and ASPCA. Raising a domesticated cat, bird, dog, or reptile is a challenge in itself, but wild animals are far more unpredictable and dangerous than their tamer relatives. If you have adequate space, a hefty savings account, and plenty of patience, you may feel confident that you can raise an exotic pet properly.
Before making a deal with an exotic pet dealer, check to see if your home country or state allows wild pets. Even in regions with few regulations, you’ll have to apply for an exotic pet permit and register the animal with the department of agriculture. Buying a wild animal is simple but caring for the creature is the greatest challenge. Some municipalities will not grant a permit to an applicant until wildlife officials have inspected the care site. For owners of wild cats, apes, and monkeys, the area must be barricaded to prevent escape and protect the nearby population.
When you take care of an animal, such as a white lion, that requires a carnivorous diet, you’ll spend more on pet food than you would with an herbivore. Fresh meat can cost $1,000 or more a month, and you’ll have to spend up to $15,000 on yearly permits and insurance for a wild feline. With the added costs of insurance, specialized vet services, permits, and a specialized diet, an exotic animal may cost five to ten times more to care for every year than a domesticated dog like a golden retriever.
Animals provide us with love and companionship, but some pet owners are willing to spend a fortune on their favorite creatures. Whether you’re thinking about buying a Tibetan Mastiff, Savannah cat, or a Capuchin monkey, your commitment to the animal’s health and well-being will determine its lifespan. Exotic animals are gorgeous creatures unlike anything in an ordinary pet store, but they require a higher level of care and experience than domesticated pets.
Featured Image Credit: Kat_marinina, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The 20 Most Expensive Pets in the World
- 1. Thoroughbred Racehorse
- 2. Tibetan Mastiff
- 3. Holstein Cow
- 4. Cloned Labrador
- 5. White Lion Cubs
- 6. Arabian Horse
- 7. Stag Beetle
- 8. Chimpanzee
- 9. Camel
- 10. Savannah Cat
- 11. Palm Cockatoo
- 12. Hyacinth Macaw
- 13. De Brazza’s Monkey
- 14. Capuchin Monkey
- 15. Toucan
- 16. Bengal Cat
- 17. Wallaby
- 18. Rhesus Macaque
- 19. Kangaroo
- 20. Tiger Cub
- Is Owning an Exotic Pet Legal?
- What Does Exotic Pet Ownership Entail?