Adopting a pet means welcoming a new family member, so it better be one that makes you smile. Why not try out one of these unusual looking pets, which will not only enrich your life but will also make great conversation pieces?
10. Gouldian Finch
It’s not unusual for pet birds to have brightly-colored feathers, but the Gouldian Finch takes color to a new level. Their solid blocks of super-saturated shades make them look like their feathers were designed by a “Project Runway” finalist. They are social creatures, so they prefer to be housed with other Gouldian Finches. Not only do they look as festive as a carnival (or like they fell into a vat of melted sherbet), but they also make soothing sounds and are good with children. What more could you want? They can, however, be prima donnas — with that plumage, who could blame them? — so before buying one, be sure to read up on their proper care.
9. Cornish Rex Cat
With their wavy fur that makes them look like they’re wearing corduroy coats, the Cornish Rex cat breed is sure to get a second — or third, or fourth — look. Their unusual fur texture comes from the fact that they lack the two outer layers of hair that other cats possess. This gives them not only an unusual fur texture but also makes them extremely soft. Contrary to popular belief, the grooves in their fur do not derive from the finger tracks left by people petting them.
8. Ghost Shrimp
While ghost shrimp can be used as food for large aquarium predators, an increasing number of people keep the delicate, transparent Ghost Shrimp as pets. A diverse group of fresh-water shrimp, they are easy to take care of and breed. As long as there are no predators in the tank, these otherworldly creatures will give your aquarium a little bit of a science-fiction look.
7. Sugar Glider
The squirrel-like Sugar Glider, native to Australia, is found in forested areas in the wild. They eat insects and the sap from eucalyptus and gum trees. As a pet, these adorable, pocket-sized pets have to be kept in a roomy cage, since they can’t be toilet trained. They eat messily: sucking the nutrients out of their food and then spitting it back out. But just look at that cute face, and you’ll see why many pet owners think the extra work is worth it. At night is a good time to take them out so they can play and frolic, and possibly glide across your living room.
6. Eastern Blue-Tongued Skink
For many owners of this popular lizard, it was love at first sight of the Eastern Blue-Tongued Skink’s spectacular tongue. Native to Australia, it can survive for 30 years in captivity and is stout and slow-moving with a snake-like head. Their body coloring ranges from brown to grey, with a barred pattern. Their tongue ranges from bright to dark blue, and they love to display it. They also hiss loudly when disturbed, which will make newcomers wonder if they’re some sort of a fat snake with legs!
The Mexican hairless dog breed Xoloitzcuintli looks a little bit like a mix between a Chihuahua and a zebra. The very rare breed has brown and white stripes all over its body, looking a little bit like someone got creative with a white paintbrush. Perhaps because of its fantastic appearance, the breed was considered sacred by the ancient Aztecs, Toltecs and Mayans.
4. Ranchu Goldfish
Leave it to the Japanese to develop a goldfish that looks like a normal goldfish covered with bubbles. Dubbed the “king of goldfish” by the Japanese, these fish vary widely in color and appearance. They’re distinguished from a standard goldfish primarily by the headgrowths, which develop within the first year. Hopefully, no one brings home a baby Ranchu by mistake, because otherwise, it could be alarming to watch their heads expand into what looks like a mass of bubbles.
3. Sphynx Cat
While it’s considered a hairless breed, don’t look for a Sphynx cat to solve your allergy problems. Surprisingly, with cats it’s not the fur so much as the protein in their skin oil and saliva that produces allergies. But if you’re just looking for a strikingly original pet to share your home, the Sphynx — with its wedge-shaped head, sturdy body, and patterned skin (which has the same pattern their fur would be) — could be a great choice. They need weekly baths (see these care guidelines), but tend to be generally healthy. Make sure you invest in cat toys, though, since these cats are known for being energetic and curious. Perhaps it comes from not being weighed down with a lot of fur.
A dog breed with tight curls that help protect it from the elements, the Hungarian herder breed Puli resembles a mop with a face. The American Kennel Club calls the breed intelligent, protective, and possessing an excellent sense of humor. If you own a Puli, especially if you’re nearsighted, it’s recommended that you look carefully every time you mop the floor, to be sure you’re not using your canine friend.
1. Elephant Nose Fish
The African fish commonly known as Elephant Nose takes its name from its distinctive proboscis. It uses its “trunk” to hunt for small food organisms. In the wild, it prefers muddy, slow-moving rivers and pools, which explain its earthtone coloring. In an aquarium, it likes heavily planted environments with low lighting. In addition to having a unique appearance, it also generates weak electrical impulses which you can listen to by placing electrodes in the tank connected to earphones or an amplifier. Groovy.