If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you choose?
It's a question most animal lovers have pondered at some point or another, most of us more than once. And as it turns out, scientists have pondered it, too.
A team of researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands examined data on 90 species of mammals, from partially domesticated to fully wild, in order to determine their suitability as pets.
The team developed a framework with which to assess each species. The framework of criteria takes into account factors such as the unique biology of each species, natural behavior and behavioral needs, potential risk to humans, and the suitability of the species to life in captivity.
The researchers, all animal scientists, used a variety of sources to develop their framework. They used everything from information contained in encyclopedias and other bibliographic sources, to expert knowledge from independent parties. They used this framework to assess and rank the pet suitability of 90 different mammal species.
And the verdict?
The sika deer, native to East Asia, came out on top as the most suitable potential exotic pet. The agile wallaby, the tammar wallaby, and the llama were also highly ranked.
The black-tailed prairie dog, on the other hand, was ranked among the least suitable for life in captivity.
In the meantime, if you're thinking of adding a new pet to your household, maybe take a pass on the prairie dog and the screaming hairy armadillo.
You can read the complete study and see the final rankings here.