Comparison of Exotics as Companion Animals


General Information

We are not offering any animals of any type for sale to the general public at this time. We are, however, leaving this page up for informational purposes. Any references to animals for sale by us are not valid.

We, at R-Zu-2-U, do not openly promote exotic animals to the general public as companion animals. We recognize, however, that there are individuals that have the proper experience with domestic animals that might like to make a move into something more exotic. We have prepared this page to show the differences in the species with which we are familiar.

We do not pretend to cover every single aspect of owning an exotic and further surfing of our site and others on the internet may help you make a decision that will be proper for you and an animal you wish to add to your family. Check out our Kitten Care Manual for additional information.

Some photos of R-Zu-2-U kids.

SOME DANGERS: Exotic animals, especially carnivores should never be considered as companion animals unless you not only plan to spend a great deal of time interacting with them, but actually do it. Some individuals may regress if you lose interest or lack the time and dedication it takes to keep them tame. Some individuals will remain tame even after long absences of their owners, others will not. I have a caracal and serval that were hand-raised by me and even though they are in the breeding compounds for nearly a year, they are as tame as the day I put them out there. I have heard that some carnivores will become less tame even if their owners take a 3 week vacation. The key phrase here is "you get out of them what you put into them". Lots of socialization and interaction helps to make them comfortable and part of the environment in which they are living. If you plan to be away for some time, it is important that the animals are well socialized and acquainted with whomever will be their caretaker in your absence. One other factor to take into consideration is that you must never make your animal so dependent on you that it will become neurotic and grieve in your absence. It is difficult sometimes to decide upon the proper amount of interaction, and the type. Many natural drives can be redirected into other more acceptable behaviors (to both you and the animal) if you have a good understanding of the species and your particular animal. That is what we are here for when you have an animal from R-Zu-2-U. We will help to guide you through all the little things we have already observed about the species and what we have found works best for us and others with the same animal in similar situations. The animals are not our hobby, they are our way of life. This is not a 40 hour a week job for us. We live and take care of them 24 - 7. Our animals have a different life than those in zoos because they know us and see us all day, every day, and into the night.

We are not talking about animals sold by others. We know exactly how we raise our babies and have hand-picked our breeders for tractable temperaments as well as physical beauty and mental stability. The following information is relative to the hand-raised babies we produce from these high quality sires and dams.

First of all, we give our babies the right start so they will be the most comfortable in a life with people. They are imprinted on humans - because they live in our home and that is what they see from the very moment they open their eyes for the first time. They are handled many times a day to be fed, stimulated and cuddled. We just cannot help but cuddle the babies! Occasionally - welllllll - actually quite often, they end up in our beds! In addition, we have a family nearby that loves to help us raise porcupine and prairie dog babies when we are overwhelmed. Their daughter, who is now 16 was one of my 4-H kids and they are well-experienced with animals as well as true animal-lovers. All of our babies are well-socialized with humans and in some instances have interacted with other animals of the same or different species that we are hand-raising at the same time. Often, these babies have been taken to school animal educational programs.

Boundless energy? All young animals have boundless energy that usually mellows-out to some degree as they mature. Some kittens and the foxes will be scampering, leaping, running and bounding all over the place - from here to there - up on this and under that, and through there - everywhere and anywhere! They play so hard they often have to stop and pant to catch up on their oxygen needs! It really makes your head spin at times. It is simply part of being an animal ‘kid’. But, as a rule, most do calm down eventually. Don’t encourage the behavior, and do NOT discipline for it. Ignore the spurts of energy or redirect their behavior into some sort of ‘play’. Games of toss and retrieve are relished by many of these animals, and tiny food treats can reinforce the positive response that you desire.

What about other pets? We are often asked how a certain species or individual animal will get along with "my housecats", "my boyfriend's dog", my mom's canary, etc. Our answer is simply common sense. This depends on the species, its temperament, its training and how you monitor its behavior. We have never had an incident or death due to interaction between any of our exotics or domestic animals. That is because we are always on alert to curb undesirable behavior or to remove temptation if necessary. We also do not allow predator/predator or predator/prey species to ever be alone unattended. This is asking for trouble! Instincts are there even if the animal appears 100% tame. You cannot expect a fishing cat to stay out of your goldfish bowl any more than you can expect a chocoholic to keep their fingers off the brownies! We cannot give you a black and white answer - so many people have untrained or spoiled domestic pets. These people are NOT good candidates for an exotic, so if you have a dog that doesn’t even have basic obedience, do both of us a favor and do not ask for information about our babies.

Who can buy one of our babies? We no longer sell to the private sector. People with good experience with domestic animals, who have the interest and dedication to learn how to handle and live with one of these animals and enrich both the lives of both themselves AND the animal may be potential owners.

Are they legal where I live? Certain states and localities have VERY restrictive laws governing private ownership of CERTAIN animals. BEFORE you contact us you must check this out to see if the animal you want is EVEN legal. Check with your state wildlife agency first. Know your laws, and know your rights.

How to they get from there to here?Animals can be shipped by airfreight by the best possible airline. You will have to pick the shipment up at the airport. Shipping cost depends on the destination, airline, weight, size of crate and type of air service. The crates used are for shipping only and will not be suitable for the animal to live in once it arrives.

Consultation: We do not do private consulting at this time so please do not write or try to call..

Feeding: We recommend a similar diet for all the cat species we offer. Purina Mazui brand exotic feline dry feed (can only be ordered through Purina Feed Dealer stores), Zu-Preem canned feline and/or ground chicken (bones and all). If you use Mazuri feline, vitamins are usually not necessary. If not, you should add zoological vitamins to the diet. Science Diet growth (dry) mixed with ground meat has been sucessfully used by breeders we know with good results, however we have not used that diet. We do not recommend a pick-and-choose diet where the animal can choose between several items. Of course the will pick what they like first and the diet will not be balanced. Feed the same thing all the time, mixed to avoid picky eaters. We will cover the basic diets under the other species. We give full diet instructions with every animal we sell.

Neutering is a MUST to avoid/curb hormonal surges in seasonal breeders and spray marking in the males of some species. We recommend neutering by 6 months of age in the canids, felids, other carnivores and the fall of the "year born" in prairie dogs. If you procrastinate and do not get it done, we don't want to hear from you because your animal has undesirable behavior. We are tough on these subjects because often, people ignore the necessary neutering until it is too late. Don't do it!

Litter Training can be accomplished in all cat and dog species, the other carnivores and even prairie dogs and porcupine. We have not tried to litter train kinkajou or coatimundi but suspect they may be similar to monkeys in that respect. Tree-dwelling animals are not easily litter trained, but taking them ‘out’ to potty might be possible. We have not had experience doing this since our adults have outdoor habitats. Our coati babies, however, have always used litter pans with shredded paper quite dependably.

Declawing is a possible choice for cats that are to be kept indoors. They can and WILL be destructive when sharpening their claws which occurs often. Declawing, performed at 5 weeks heals most rapidly. I have heard pros and cons on declawing and have both types of cats. I see absolutely no difference in the animals that are declawed or not, except the declawed animals are not as destructive to other animals and your possessions. For a more complete list of pros and cons of declawing see our kitten care manual.

Immunization and Deworming recommendations will be given for most species on written request from purchasers. In general, carnivores are usually given killed vaccines of either dog or cat types depending on the particular species. Rodent species including prairie dogs and porcupines do not have vaccines for their species that we are aware of at this time. Deworming should be performed after an analysis of feces by your veterinarian. We cannot urge anyone who handles any animal, whether domestic or exotic, to practice good hygiene - taking preventative measures such as disinfecting quarters, dishes and equipment on a regular basis as well as bathing of the animal and washing your own hands before you eat that burger and fries! All our animals receive the proper vaccinations for their species up to the age that they are shipped.

Exercise and the proper habitat is a must. If you own an exotic, you can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER - did I mention "NEVER" - turn it out in the back yard to potty or even let it off leash to see if it ‘loves you’ and will stay with you, etc. These animals have finely honed instincts that may not be evident, but should a butterfly, a mouse or a fluttering leaf cross their path and you do not have them on a leash, they are HISTORY with a capitol "H". They simply cannot control themselves. These instincts are what have helped them survive in the wild. They are not now and never will be domestic animals. You must cherish and protect them with every ounce of your being and appreciate the priviledge that one is a part of your life. Don’t take this attitude personally. Understand their psyche and you will provide the best for your mutual relatonship.
Most of these animals will not be happy as 'cage' animals. You must provide a habitat with plenty of room with furnishings for their particular species. Climbing species like branches or tree trucks and resting or basking shelves. Ground dwellers like PVC tunnels and caves. Have fun building a habitat that will help to keep the animal(s) mentally and physically fit. We will be here to guide you when you plan the habitat.

Click the Titles below to visit our FAQs pages on these species which also include photographs. Enjoy.

Cat Family

Our caracals have short, thick coats in light creamy tan, gold, red, rust and silver tipped. Because we interchange males, we never know what colors we will have. We do not reserve babies by specific color because many individuals change color as they get older. Basically the caracal has a solid base color with black markings on the face and back of the long pointed ears. The ears black on the back, sometimes changing to charcoal with long straight black ear tufts. Some tufts get very long. The tail is 3/4 length. Then are 17-24 inches tall.

Caracals are intelligent with an extremely high prey drive which can be directed into a play drive. Our house caracal plays soccer in the hallway, can jump 8 feet straight up to catch a toy or get up on a shelf (or anything else up that high.) They can get along with other household animals if you bring them up properly and monitor their behavior around the other animals. Our house caracal lives with 2 parrots that she harrassed when she was a kitten and now ignores in her adulthood. Caracals are very lively for the first 7 or 8 months and finally mellow into mature individuals. My caracal sleeps on my bed, has free roam of the house and is regal and ellegant. Females mature to about 30 lbs. while males can eventually mature to 40-50+ lb. (at 4-5 years). Their lifespan is about 20 years.

Jungle Cat
The jungle cat is the closest wild relative to the domestic cat with the exception of the African wild cat. Males can top the scale at 30 lb, with females at 15 to 20 lb. They can be up to 18 inches tall. Their coat is medium length with a dense undercoat. The coat is a mixture of hairs of several colors - olive, black and tan. They have orange blush around the face, chest and back of ears. Their color is quite beautiful. Their legs and tail are striped and they have a few stripes on the face. Although they are capable of jumping, they do not display this behavior as much as the caracal and serval. They are a slightly aloof cat and in our experience, not as affectionate as some of the other species. Their lifespan is about 20 years.

Our bobcat breeders have thick, luxurious coats that they do not lose in the summer like some other northern breeds. They are thick bodied and stocky with shorter legs than the two lynx species we carry. They have lightly ruffed face and cheeks with tiny black ear tufts and a short ‘bob-tail’, hence their name. The males are about 1 inch taller than the female with a slightly heavier body and head. I estimate them to weigh about 35-45 lbs. and measure about 20-23 inches tall. Bobcats can be very affectionate to their owners and very playful. They can be aggressive about their food to other animals but not all of them are. Our adults never quibble because they have established a dominance order which is not challenged. Their lifespan is about 20 years.

Canadian Lynx
The Canadian Lynx has silver-gray ticked fur with fat faces and fur ruffs under the neck and at their cheeks. They have thick, luxurious coats and are medium-sized between the bobcats and Siberian lynx. One of the neatest features of this lynx is their huge 'schmoo' feet which are almost comical in appearance. Everyone who sees our adults comments on their 'adorable feet'. They have black ear tufts and white eye spots on the back of their ears. I estimate them to weigh about 50-65 lb. and measure 22-26 inches tall. The males are larger than the females by about 10-15% with fatter faces and heavier ruffs. Their eyes are ‘silver’. They can be very affectionate and need to be handled fairly regularly to maintain the bond. Canadian lynx 'bark' a pleasant little 'chortle-like bark' when they are excited. Their lifespan is about 20 years.

Siberian Lynx
The Siberian Lynx is the largest of the lynx family and the largest cat we raise. They are reddish gray, with a slightly longer, black tipped tail. Their coats are thick and rich with white markings around their eyes. The male is about 15% larger than the female. I estimate their height to be 24-31 inches tall with weight of 50-85 lb. They look much heavier because of the fluffy coat. They are longer in leg and body than the Canadian Lynx. These lynx take several years to mature and can live up to 18 years.

Servals are an unusual cat because of their long legs, long body and neck and small head with huge funnel shaped ears. They have solid spots like the cheetah and sometimes remind me of a cheetah. They are very affectionate and will rub their face and cheeks all over you if you are their person. Servals are not very forgiving at times if you are the type that is away for weeks at a time. I have known servals to be left for 3 or 4 weeks that do not ‘forgive’ the owner upon return and refuse to be handled. It takes some effort to win their trust back. I find this more prevalent in males than females. Servals are the same size for males and females with the male having a slightly more masculine head. Their tail is slightly shorter than a house cat’s tail in ratio to its body. The serval is about 22 inches tall, 28 inches long and with a weight of about 35 lbs. The body can be varying shades of pale yellow to deep orange with black spots on the sides and longitudinal stripes down the back. They are a very interesting cat. Several of our breeders are extremely affectionate and playful. They are very passionate about their owners and do well with domestic cats if raised with them from kittens. Their lifespan is about 23 years.

Fishing Cat
The fishing cat is the ‘quarter horse’ of the small cat world. They are about 30 lbs. and about 18 inches tall. Shorter legs, stocky body, round head with rounded ears, this cat is built for strength. Normally a quiet cat, it has a distinct cackle similar to a hyena when it is looking for its mate. They are silver gray with solid black spots. They like water but do not have to ‘fish’ every day. They do enjoy fishing for minnows or feeder goldfish. This sport will keep them happy for hours. Unless neutered they have a pungent odor to their urine. They are the most expensive cat we breed and very rare in private collections. They are not aggressive and rather docile, even breeders that are never handled.

We do not raise cougars any longer ourselves, however, we do list the babies for a dear friend who takes wonderful care of his animals. His breeders are Western cougars and the male weighs 250 lbs. They can be up to 4 feet long. The cubs look like little Sumo wrestlers compared to the servals and other cats we have. They are spotted when born with blue eyes. They progress rapidly from the little pet nurser to a regular baby bottle with a huge hole in the nipple. Cougars play rougher than the other cats and are a handful as they get older. They are NOT suitable as house pets. The size of the litter pan they'd need should tell you that. Cougars can be taught to walk on a leash like a dog, however, they are incredibly strong and if they decide to climb a tree when you are walking them, believe me, you are going up the tree - whether you want to or not! Cougars eat about 2-5 lbs. of meat per day as adults. They are very affectionate, but make no mistake, VERY strong. They are probably much stronger than the strongest person you know!

Dog Family


The darling Fennec fox weighs 2-3 lbs when fully grown with ears about 6 inches long! They have been litter box trained by many people who own them. About 1 ounce when born, they are fed, after weaning, a diet of high quality cat food (dry but softened when young) and mixed fruits and veggies. They are true omnivores. They will go bezerk for a grape. No matter how long I have had them, I still think they should go bezerk for a piece of liver, but if you put a piece of liver, a piece of bell pepper and a grape in front of them, the grape will disappear first, then the pepper and then the liver! Weird, huh? I taught one pup to retrieve like a dog. The only difference was that he would run out after the ‘dumbell’ which was made of soft felt, and jump straight up in the air and pounce on it like - well - like a fox (imagine that!) - as if it was a mouse. They he would ferociously ‘kill’ it and then come and offer it to me as a gift, by laying it across my bare feet. This type of behavior gets me all mushy inside and it makes me feel real humble. We did this on the kitchen floor which was waxed and shiney. He soon learned that he could run full blast and 'slide in for home base'. He taught ME alot about fennec foxes. What loves they are. They can be nippy, not because they want to be aggressive, but that is ‘fox’ behavior to other foxes. They are a little mouthy, but it can be curbed by lightly squeezing their muzzle. I've usually seen this behavior when they have been in a crate quite a while and I open the door. They are so glad to see me that they sometimes nip a finger with their needle-like teeth as then jump into my arms for hugs. So what are a dozen bandages when you have that kind of loving animal? If you are not a model for hand-lotion, it is not a big deal. They usually outgrow this phase after 4-5 months of age. They LOVE to sleep in bed with you and make all sorts of interesting tunnels under the covers. Eventually they settle down and warm your feet or curl under your chin or hair (if you have hair, that is!) Their lifespan is similar to other dogs at about 15 years.

Black Backed Jackal
The black backed jackal is a gorgeous, smooth-coated member of the wild dog family with a strikingly beautiful grizzled saddle on their back. They have a sharply pointed muzzle and fine-boned legs and feet. They weigh about 25-30 lbs. Both sexes are the same size. They can be kept as tame animals, however, they are ferocious diggers and can climb like a cat. They must never be put in an area that is not totally enclosed, top and bottom. They eat a wide variety of foods and can be maintained strictly on a high quality dog food as well as a meat/vegetable diet. These jackals have a concentrated urine that has a pungent odor as adults. Owners have told us their neutered animals do not have this odor. They make lovely display animals. Their life span is about 15 years.

Other Carnivores

Coatimundis are not only ‘weird’ looking like someone stretched their nose a few inches too long, but they are incredibly intelligent. They weigh about 15-18 lbs at maturity and only stand about 10 inches tall. They are active, busy animals, so if you are looking for a doormat type of animal, this is not for you. They can easily be trained to walk on a harness, love to climb and play. They are best maintained if they have a roomy cage when you cannot monitor their behavior in the house. Having a coatimundi is like having a perpetual 2 year old. They will be into everything and anything. It is THEIR JOB to get into trouble. Their hands are incredibly dexterous and they use them to their advantage to open cupboards, boxes, certain types of doors and locks. Your house must be kid-proof or you will be SORRY! If you don't want an animal that can learn and will keep you busy, this is NOT the animal for you. Coatis do not make good cage animals and must have the proper habitat to keep them mentally and physically stimulated and healthy. Coatis are NOT for the inexperienced! Diet is dry dog food, raw chicken and fruits. We also feed canned primate diet. Lifespan is about 15 years.

Closely related, taxonomically only, to the coatimundi and raccoon, the kinkajou is quiet, loving and affectionate, basically they are your loveable tree-dwelling doormat in the daytime. They weigh 5 to 10 lbs and stand about 8 inches at the shoulder. They are not as intelligent (in our opinion) as the other two, but make endearing pets. They can be trained to a harness or collar and might be candidates to ‘outside’ potty training. They are quiet animals and mostly nocturnal but are perfectly happy for you to wake them up for attention. They need an enclosure with climbing apparatus and shelves. Their diet consists of bananas (the staple), sweet fruits, cooked carrots and sweet potatoes, an occasional hard-boiled egg and dry dog food. Their lifespan is 20+ years.

African Civet

The African civet is probably the best known for the 'civet musk' it can secrete from special glands under its tail. This civet is used in perfumes. I don't think they are suitable for a house companion, unless you run the Best Little *&$^# House in Texas because of the musk they produce. They can weigh up to 50 lbs and stand about 15-18 inches at the shoulders. We have never had one descented so cannot express an opinion about that. Our breeder animals have no odor at all unless you open their musk pouch and remove some of it. I love the way it smells, sort of like 1000 proof Tabu perfume. They can be affectionate and friendly. One of our breeder males is exceptionally affectionate and rubs his neck all over my hair. I don’t smell anything, but when I've gone shopping shortly after one of his massages, I have had some PRETTTTTY interesting offers while in the checkout line. Just kidding! They eat fruits, canned primate diet and raw chicken. I just love these animals. They weigh 30-50 lbs when mature with a distinct silver body, with solid or rousetted black spots, a black mask and a mane from the head to the tail that they erect when excited. I do not know of anyone in the US who is breeding these but us. They are excellent mousers. Lifespan is 20+ years.

Genets are the sports model of the ‘ferret’ world. They weigh 3-5 lbs. and stand about 7 inches at the shoulders. Their bodies are long and lean like a ferret, but more closely related to the civet and cats. The species we currently raise have lovely coats of silver background with black spots. Their very long, fluffy tail is silver and ringed with black stripes. They are cat-like in the face with retractable claws and shorter limbs suitable for tree dwelling animals. They love to lay on shelves with their beautiful tails gracefully hanging down. They are excellent mousers and avid about catching any insect around. There are several species and sub-species. At the moment we are breeding the small spotted with the color described above. Some species eat fruit, cat food (dry) and raw chicken. Some will only eat raw chicken and mice. Some will also eat eggs. We give complete diet directions. The easily litter train! Lifespan is about 15 years.

Rodent Family

Prairie Dog
When you first get your baby prairie dog it will weigh 4-8 ounces. Adult prairie dog adults weigh about 2-3 lbs and when standing on all fours, reach a height of about 5 inches. Prairie dogs make wonderful, endearing and inexpensive companion animals. They are easy to feed, although their diet must be controlled to be sure they are getting the proper nutrition and are not overweight. Serious health problems can result. They need to be protected from fungal infections of the respiratory tract. Proper bedding and nutrition are very important to prevent these problems. Prairie dogs MUST be neutered in the fall of the year they are born. If they are not, they can become protective of their cage and personal items. Lifespan is 8-12 years. Lots of useful and interesting prairie dog information can be accessed off of our FAQs pages. Go to Animal FAQs and scroll down to prairie dogs for many pages on prairie dog information.

South African Crested Porcupines
South African Crested Porcupines are the largest of all porcupines and stand about 18-20 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 70 lbs. They shed a quill or two daily, like we shed hair, which are highly prized by crafters world-wide. There is a picture of the quills at this link. Sometimes I give thick ones to female friends who like to wear their hair in a twist. These porcupines not only can be affectionate, they are wonderful in educational programs. They can be trained to walk on a leash or follow a bell. They are easy to feed and are clean about their toilet habits, using one place to go most of the time. A litter pan in that area works wonders. They are affectionate, believe it or NOT, and to have a 60 lb. porcupine climb in your lap for hugs is a real definition of lap-dancing! Their lifespan is 20 years.

In Closing

We hope this will answer many of your questions and help you make a proper decision about which type of exotic, if any, would fit into your life. It is our goal to match the right species and individual animal to the proper person who already knows what to expect ahead of time.

Ownership of an exotic animal is a huge responsibility. You must provide for the safety of the animal, yourself and the public at large. You must provide the proper nutrition, environment and stimulation so that both of your lives will be blessed and enriched.


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