Not all animals make good pets. Dogs and cats (and even goats) may be well-suited for home living, but when it comes to more exotic companions, not all mammals are equally eager to be your lifelong cohabitor. So animal welfare researchers from Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands gathered data on 90 different mammals, ranking them based on their suitability as pets. The results are now published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, as Popular Science reports.
The Dutch Animals Act maintains that mammals should only be kept by non-experts if they are used for agricultural production or can be safely kept by anyone without special training. This list helps establish a ranking of fauna that are indeed suitable for domestic living. The animals were some of the most commonly kept as pets in a web survey, minus the rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs that already were considered “production” animals. They were ranked based on their behavioral needs, welfare, health, and the risks of keeping them in close quarters with people.
Koeneet al., Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2016)
The researchers found that Sika deer, the agile wallaby, the tamar wallaby, and the Asian palm civet are all quite suitable as pets, though they have not been fully domesticated. The ferret came in as the highest-ranking mammal on the list, followed by the alpaca. You might be surprised to find that skunks make not-terrible pets: they come in at number 19 on the list.
Please check your local laws before you adopt a skunk, though. There are U.S. states where owning a ferret or a skunk can get you hundreds of dollars in fines or even jail time.
[h/t Popular Science]
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