Dogs, cats and hamsters are some of the most popular pets in Singapore. Yet, if you’re someone who prefers to stand out from the crowd, you may be thinking of owning a pet that’s out of the ordinary.
Before you get carried away with this thought, find out which exotic pets are legal or illegal in Singapore below!
Since 1986, Singapore has been a part of an international agreement under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This agreement was established to prevent wildlife species from facing the threat of extinction due to trade.
In Singapore, the governing authority that enforces these regulations is the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS).
Legal Exotic Pets in Singapore
These exotic animals are legal and can be kept as pets in Singapore. You can refer to the full list at the AVS website for more pets like Tubifex worms and Mealworms.
Animals listed in the CITES Appendix must be accompanied by a CITES Certificate of Origin permit when purchased.
1. American Bullfrogs
The American bullfrog is a species originating from North America. It’s usually found in green or greyish-brown colours with some brown spots. It can also be identified by the circular eardrums found on the sides of its head.
Although American bullfrogs are imported into Singapore to be sold as pets, they are also used to cook up dishes like frog leg porridge in restaurants across the island!
2. Crab-eating Frogs
These tiny amphibians live up to their name as small crabs, insects and other small crustaceans make up their main diet in the wild.
One unique characteristic of the crab-eating frog is its ability to live in saltwater of up to 75% salinity, as most of its kind are unable to survive in environments beyond 10% salinity.
3. Green Tree Frogs
Green tree frogs are popular pets around the world due to their docile, low-maintenance nature. They can live up to 16 years and grow up to 10cm in length.
As their name suggests, these frogs are usually green in colour. However, they can also change their skin colour to brown to escape predators or get ready for the breeding season!
Daphnia, or water fleas, are tiny crustaceans about 3mm in length. They thrive in large groups and are a great addition to a freshwater aquarium as they can help to clean the water in the tank.
If you’re planning to keep these water fleas as pets, it’s important to ensure that their tank mates don’t prey on them. Additionally, these creatures breed rapidly in large quantities, which can make them hard to manage. If you’re concerned about overpopulation, you can always harvest these Daphnia as food for pet fish!
Ruggies are a type of land hermit crab that comes in a variety of colours such as peach, white, black and grey. They can be distinguished by their elongated eyes, orange feelers and sand coloured eyestalks.
Ruggies are the only species of hermit crabs permitted for sale in Singapore. As they have strict habitat and care requirements, they aren’t ideal for first-time pet owners.
6. Sea Monkeys
Despite their name, sea monkeys aren’t actually monkeys. Instead, they’re a type of brine shrimp.
These crustaceans have an interesting ability — cryptobiosis. This means that they can remain inactive for extended periods of time (when environmental conditions aren’t favourable) and return to life when these conditions improve!
7. Moon Jellyfish
If you’re looking for a pretty pet that you can admire for hours on end, step into the world of Moon Jellyfishes!
These creatures are harmless and breathtaking with a translucent, dome-shaped bell and 4 horseshoe-shaped gonads in the centre. They have a relatively low stinging power, making them safe for pet owners.
However, they’re also fragile animals with special habitat requirements such as a curved tank and a slow water flow.
Did you know that the adorable Chinchilla falls into the classification of a rodent, just like your regular mouse?
This cute, shy creature is typically more active in the night and is very athletic. As Chinchillas don’t have sweat glands, living in a tropical climate like that of Singapore requires proper care and ventilation!
Gerbils are small, burrowing rodents that hail from Asia and Africa.
Despite their small size and lovable appearance, they aren’t ideal pets for children as they can get injured if not handled carefully. Furthermore, gerbils can bite or scratch if they feel frightened.
Mice may not be the first animal on your mind when it comes to pets. However, they’re easy to care for and are great for working adults as they’re nocturnal animals. Do note that it can be hard for owners to hold them as they’re often skittish, though they can be fed by hand.
11. Malayan Box Turtles
The Malayan box turtle is a relatively uncommon terrapin in Singapore. As such, the price of purchasing one tends to be on the higher side.
They have stripes of yellow that run along the sides of their head and can live up to 35 years, making them a great long-term companion!
12. Red-eared Sliders
As their name suggests, the red-eared sliders have striking red or maroon stripes behind their eyes. They also have a yellow belly shell and the colour of their top shell can range from olive to dark brown.
They’re more commonly found in Singapore as compared to their Malayan box counterparts and are quite easy to care for!
Illegal Exotic Pets in Singapore
Certain exotic wildlife are banned for sale and aren’t allowed as pets in Singapore due to reasons such as:
• Imbalance in the ecosystem
The trading of some of these animals can cause the ecosystem to become imbalanced.
• Inability to meet the needs of the animals
Certain animals require very strict living conditions that Singaporean pet owners may not be able to provide. This can affect the animal’s well-being and endanger their lives.
Some creatures can threaten the safety and well-being of the general public if released into the wild.
• The spread of diseases
Some of these animals can spread diseases to humans and other animals, endangering their lives and well-being.
• Threaten the local biodiversity
The release of these exotic animals into the wild can affect the biodiversity of our island.
The bright, vibrant colour of the salamander makes them incredibly appealing to look at. However, one of the reasons for which salamanders are banned in Singapore is the salmonella they carry in their guts.
If improperly handled, these creatures can pass on this bacteria to their owners, causing them to fall ill.
Bonus: AxolotlThe axolotl is a species of salamander that lives almost exclusively in water. These baby pink creatures with adorable feathery-looking gills on both sides of their heads are native to a lake in Mexico City.
Due to natural threats, loss of habitat and being captured for food (in Mexico, roasted axolotl is a delicacy), the axolotl has become a critically endangered species and needs to be preserved!
Due to their poisonous sting and sharp claws, scorpions are dangerous creatures that shouldn’t be kept as pets. In addition, the trade of these creatures will impact the global ecosystem and affect the population of many wild animal species.
Tarantulas have a painful bite and an intimidating appearance. Yet, they’re relatively harmless with venom that’s milder than a bee sting.
In spite of this, they’re listed as illegal pets in Singapore due to the fact that they’re an endangered species. Individuals found keeping tarantulas can expect a jail term of up to 2 years, a fine of up to $50,000 per species, or both.
16. Civet Cats
Don’t be misled by their name – civet cats aren’t actually cats. Rather, they’re more similar to a mongoose. Though this furry nocturnal animal is native to our sunny island, they’re shy and prefer to keep out of sight.
Additionally, while they may look docile and harmless, civet cats may attack if they feel threatened.
Foxes may look cute with their pointed ears and long furry tail. However, they can be difficult to care for.
These curious creatures enjoy digging more than dogs so they require large open spaces where they can dig lots of holes. Additionally, their urine leaves a pungent stench that some may liken to a skunk (if you’ve ever smelled one!).
Primates like gibbons are meant to be wild animals and are, therefore, challenging to look after in captivity. They’re escape artists and can showcase destructive behaviour when under stress and frustration.
Furthermore, capturing a gibbon is a cruel process as the whole family is often slaughtered just to obtain a baby. Thus, it’s essential to stop the support for such wildlife trades and protect these beautiful animals!
As hedgehogs are such adorable and lovable animals, it’s no surprise that they’re wildly popular as pets around the world. However, the demand for this creature is likely to fuel an illegal wildlife trade and is hence banned from being kept or sold in Singapore.
Also, hedgehogs could disrupt our local ecosystem if they escape or are released into the wild as they’re not native to our island.
20. Slow Lorises
Slow lorises have large alluring eyes and furry bodies that can make any animal lover’s eyes light up in excitement. Yet, these animals are very difficult to care for as they have complex diet requirements.
The inability to meet these needs can cause a multitude of health problems including malnutrition and obesity. More importantly, slow lorises have a venomous bite that can be deadly to humans.
21. Sugar Gliders
Due to their small size and cute appearance, sugar gliders are highly popular as pets around the world. However, they have to be kept with their own kind in order to thrive and have special diet requirements.
To prevent our citizens from supporting the illegal trade of these animals, the government has banned the sale and possession of sugar gliders completely.
22. Bearded Dragons
Bearded dragons require a large amount of space to thrive. They also have complicated needs when it comes to food and are definitely not recommended for beginner pet owners.
Though they’re harmless to people, they can affect Singapore’s ecosystem if released into the wild. Hence, they’re illegal as pets in Singapore!
Iguanas are similar to bearded dragons in terms of their needs and care requirements.
Though they’re beautiful reptiles that deserve our admiration, they shouldn’t and can’t be kept as pets in Singapore as they can threaten our local ecosystem and endanger the wellbeing of our native creatures.
24. Indian Star Tortoises
This unique terrapin sports a yellow or orange and black shell with star patterns all over the top.
As much as they’re appealing to look at and coveted as a pet by many, this animal is an endangered species and protected under CITES. Hence, it’s banned as a pet in Singapore.
Snakes are often misunderstood and erroneously marketed as great pets for beginners. In fact, they have strict habitat requirements and care needs, making them high-maintenance pets.
Snakes are also dangerous to humans as they carry bacteria such as salmonella and can pass on diseases that affect various parts of our bodies such as our muscles, heart and lungs.
Owning Exotic Pets in Singapore
All animals deserve our care and respect. Thus, we should only keep and care for those that are approved by our government and CITES and guard against the illegal trading of wildlife.
Let’s do our part to keep all our animal friends safe, happy and healthy!