Moosh - miniature horse

There are several well-documented reasons for owning an emotional support animal. If you suffer from an emotional or psychological disability, then chances are you’re already aware of the many benefits of ESAs. When people think about pets, they generally assume that only certain animals – the obvious ones such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs – can be registered as emotional support animals, but in fact almost any animal can become an ESA. Here we take a look at some of the more exotic ESAs.

Rats

When it comes to choosing an emotional support animal, a rat is not an obvious choice – which makes it, by definition, an exotic choice! The brown rat, also known as the fancy rat, makes a very good emotional support animal. They are highly intelligent, independent and clean animals. They’re perfectly capable of looking after themselves – so long as you provide food, a “toilet”, and bedding, of course – so they don’t need much attention from you. Brown rats are very social animals, however, so if given the chance, they will happily bond and play with you. You can even teach them tricks, such as rolling over and sitting up! It’s important to make sure emotional support rats have plenty to occupy them, as they enjoy challenges.

Requiring little care but giving a lot in return makes the brown rat an excellent choice as an emotional support animal. They generally don’t like living on their own, though, so it’s advisable to have at least two so they don’t get lonely. You can register more than one emotional support animal, so there’s no problem there, and you get double the fun! The only downside of owning an ESA rat or two is that they typically only live two to three years, so be prepared to breed from them or replace them.

Moosh - rat

Emotional support rats can be a great choice of unusual pet.

Pigs

Again, a pig may not be the first pet that comes to mind when you think of an emotional support animal! But pigs as pets are becoming more and more popular. Like rats, they too are very social animals with a friendly nature. They are naturally playful and intelligent, and it’s actually possible to train a pig in much the same way as you’d train a dog. They’re not as affectionate as dogs though, and won’t enjoy being cuddled or picked up regularly, so you’ll have to find a different way to forge a bond with them. Let’s look at two different pig breeds that make good exotic emotional support animals.

The one most people are familiar with is the pot-bellied pig. A popular breed, they are not as large as your average farmer’s pig; most grow to the size of a medium to large dog. They possibly make one of the best emotional support animals because they are affectionate, curious, and active, and can be easily trained. If you put in a bit of time and effort, you will get the best out of your pot-bellied pig.

Another breed of pig that might appeal as an ESA is a miniature pig. These pigs are also known as teacup pigs and were originally bred for medical research purposes. As the name implies, they are comparatively smaller than other pig breeds, which makes them an easier emotional support animal to care for. They can be trained but you need to be dedicated and learn to interact with them, but your efforts will be rewarded. They prefer to have a companion, so it’s best to have two if you can.

Moosh - pot-bellied pig

A pot-bellied pig is a cute option for an ESA.

Horses

Many people have an affinity with horses. They are gorgeous, gracious creatures that come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Here we look at just two breeds that would make excellent and exotic ESAs.

Firstly the miniature horse – who doesn’t love these beautiful creatures? They are actually bred to be friendly and to be able to interact with people and, like most horses, are easily trained. Miniature horses have a calm nature, which is exactly one of the qualities you need in an emotional support animal. They also have the advantage of living longer than regular pets such as dogs and cats.

One of the most exotic horse breeds is a palomino. Known for its unusual gold/blonde color and white mane and tail, thoroughbred palominos certainly make exotic emotional support animals. These horses have different temperaments, so choose wisely! The larger ones tend to be more laid-back, co-operative, and intelligent. They need to be trained and you will have to put in the time to bond with them – but like any emotional support animal, the more time and love you give them, the more they give back to you in terms of affection and emotional support.

Moosh - miniature horse

When it comes to exotic ESAs, miniature horses are some of the cutest!

So that’s just a few exotic ESAs to think about. In terms of whether airlines would allow these pets in the cabin with you – at the moment, most airlines do not allow rats or pigs on their planes. There are one or two exceptions, so it’s worth checking if you intend to fly with your emotional support animal. Palomino horses clearly wouldn’t be allowed in the cabin of a plane, but miniature horses are often classed in the same category as large dogs, so some airlines will accept them. In all cases, you have to pre-book your pet and be in possession of a valid ESA letter.