Cats and dogs, while extremely lovable, are not the only choices out there when it comes to selecting a household pet. There are quite a few unusual animals in existence that actually make good, even great companions for their human owners. We’re not talking man-eating tigers or wild boars here—there are some limits to just how exotic you should go.

The advantages of getting an unusual pet are many. These quirky creatures make for interesting conversation starters and can be used as educational tools for kids. Some exotic pets can give you tons of affections, loads of fun and years of companionship. Just remember that you need to avoid any endangered or truly wild animals, and make sure you know what you’re getting into as far as general upkeep is concerned.

For example, if you live in a Manhattan apartment, you might want to think twice about getting a miniature donkey (they need a good amount of space), but a potbellied pig should do just fine. Here are five exotic pets that will give you a few ideas about what's out there.

1. Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons (see above) are lizards that are quite playful and full of character. If you’ve ever wanted a social pet that isn’t a mammal, the bearded dragon just might be for you. Bearded dragons are pretty simple to care for, once you learn a few basic tricks. They eat vegetables and insects, are able to be handled often, and can live as long as 10 years. These durable reptiles get their name from the prickly skin under their throats, which billows up and resembles a man’s beard. How cool would it be to tell your friends that you have to head home in order to “feed your dragon”?

2. Potbellied Pig

Potbellied pig
Brian Robert Marshall / Wikimedia Commons

Potbellied pigs have a lot of charisma. Their diminutive size makes them a heck of a lot easier to manage as pets than massive farm pigs. Potbellied pigs are smart and easily trainable, although like some dog breeds, they can be, well, a bit pig-headed at times.

As long as you show them that you’re the dominant species in the house, they should learn to behave like little ladies and gentlemen, and give you very little trouble at all. These small pigs are sensitive to your emotions, and are quite emotionally sensitive themselves. If you want an animal that's full of love (and can be potty trained), a potbellied pig could be a great way to go.

3. Hissing Cockroach

While a giant hissing cockroach might not be the kind of creature you can cuddle up with on the sofa, they still make for incredibly interesting pets. These large and colorful natives of Madagascar are very easy to care for. You can keep them in a small terrarium, or a large plastic container. They eat dry dog food, fruit, orange peels and decaying animal matter. The more cockroaches you choose to keep (they do breed like cockroaches), the greater the chance is that you’ll be treated to a hissing “symphony.” These huge insects love to hiss when they're mating, or just feeling really good.

4. Bengal Cat

Bengal cat
V. Sauvaget / Wikimedia Commons

No, a Bengal cat is not a Bengal tiger, just in case you were wondering. Bengal cats are a cross between your typical housecat and a leopard. (Yes, a leopard.) This unusual mix results in a very exotic and wild-looking cat.

As a rule, these little beasts act pretty much like any other domesticated cat, as long as they’re three or four generations removed from the original pairing with the leopard.

Bengal cats are full of pep and personality, and they make wonderful pets for people who already have some experience raising and taking care of stubborn cats.

5. Miniature Donkey

Just because the word “miniature” is in the name of the miniature donkey, don’t think you can keep one these charming and affectionate animals in a small space. At the very least, you’ll need a good-sized backyard, if not a large garden or small farm. Children love these gentle animals (they’re a bit like Donkey in ‘Shrek’), but they do require some attention.

Land for grazing, hay, fresh water and protective shelter number among the most important things a miniature donkey should have for a good life—that, and lots of love. If you take care of the basics with these curious animals, you’ll get a lot of affection, and a delightful pet in return, plus a playmate that doesn’t mind towing your kids around in a small cart or red wagon.

More From TSM Interactive