13 Most Bizarre Emotional Support Animals

Owning a pet is good for your overall health, physical and mental. As emotional support animals have become widely accepted, dogs and cats are not the only animals providing support.

May 22, 2024By Holly Ramsey
most bizarre emotional support animals

Research has shown there are several benefits to having a pet. Animal companions are proven to help our physical health but there is also a positive benefit to our mental health. When you think about an emotional support animal (ESA) dogs and cats are the most likely animals used. However, people not fond of dogs or cats have begun using other species as their emotional support animals. Read on to learn of some of the most bizarre emotional support animals.

Bearded Dragons

orange bearded dragon
Image source: wallpapercave.com

Not the soft, huggable pet you think of when you picture an emotional support animal, but bearded dragons are a popular choice for people who are allergic to pet dander or have a deep love and respect for reptiles and amphibians. Surprisingly enough, bearded dragons do develop a close connection with their caregivers.

Pigs

piglet in grass
Image source: rd.com

Many argue that pigs are a close cognitive match to humans and can think and problem-solve. They are also believed to be highly sensitive to the emotions of humans. While pigs being used as emotional support animals is new, there is no denying a tiny piglet will bring a smile to anyone’s face. Pigs tend to lean toward drama when you try to make them do something so taking them into public spaces may create more of a headache than stress relief.

Turkeys

domesticated turkey
Image source: alifeofheritage.com

Not just for Thanksgiving dinner any longer, turkeys have been used for emotional support by those who find these persnickety birds adorable. While turkeys are generally found strutting around the barnyard or out in the wild, some people find them charming and bring comfort in stressful situations.

Marmosets

marmoset exotic pet on hand
Image source: animalssale.com

Marmosets are a group of small, long-tailed monkeys from South America. These are wild animals that some people try to domesticate and turn into pets and not every state allows a person to own a marmoset. Check your state’s regulations before purchasing a marmoset as an emotional support animal. These tiny primates are adorable and have big personalities. They do require specialized care and can be a handful.

Snakes

pet corn snake
Image source: proper-cooking.com

While snakes are not welcome in many places, they are becoming a popular choice of emotional support animal. These slithering reptiles may not be cute and cuddly, but many people find them fascinating and a good alternative for a pet when you have allergies to some of the more traditional animal companions. Most airlines do not allow snakes to travel in cabins, but they can travel in the cargo hold in an approved cage.

Ducks

domestic duck
Image source: farmfreshforlife.com

Not all fowl are foul to be around, especially when they wear cute outfits and diapers. One of the more famous emotional support ducks goes by the name of Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt. He became a viral sensation when he accompanied his person on a flight wearing cute red shoes and a bold Captain America diaper, and passengers uploaded videos and photos of this adorable duck enjoying the attention.

Hens and Roosters

buff orpington chicken
Image source: petkeen.com

Feathered fowl seems to be a popular alternative to the traditional dog or cat as an emotional support animal and hens and roosters are at the top of the list. Whether employing a hen or rooster as your emotional support animal, expect to get some strange looks. These feathered friends are surprisingly intuitive when it comes to their owners’ moods. It is best to keep your chickens out in the country, they can be noisy little creatures.

Miniature Horses

miniature horse flies on plane
Image source: fox5sandiego.com

Miniature horses have been used extensively as service animals throughout the years. They are also becoming accepted as emotional support animals. Mini horses form deep bonds with their owners and provide comfort when needed. While many airlines have banned many bizarre emotional support animals such as reptiles, primates, and rodents, miniature horses are still welcome to fly on most airlines with their owners.

Sugar Gliders

sugar glider on log
Image source: thesprucepets.com

These tiny gliding possums are omnivorous, arboreal, and nocturnal. Their tiny size may make them an ideal pet, even an emotional support animal, but their sleeping habits may not be. Since they are nocturnal, sugar gliders tend to sleep the day away and then stay up all night. They can be carried in small pouches and people do not usually know a sugar glider is present when the glider is sleeping, but these tiny marsupials are very active when awake.

Goats

baby pygmy goat
Image source: thethings.com

With the popularity of goat yoga, it was only a matter of time before these barnyard animals were employed as emotional support animals. Goats are very smart animals for those who cannot resist the cuteness of a goat, they are perfect. Many airlines have banned goats from coming aboard their planes unless traveling in cargo, so if you plan on traveling the friendly skies, a goat may not be the best choice for your emotional support animal.

Hedgehogs

hedgehog in fall leaves
Image source: worldlandtrust.org

These rather prickly little creatures are not the cuddly variety of emotional support animals, but many people find them comforting and take them everywhere. Hedgehogs require specialized care and are not the best choice for everyone. However, some public places and airlines have banned the more bizarre emotional support animals, including hedgehogs.

Llamas and Alpacas

llama in green grass
Image source: publicdomainpictures.net

Despite their reputation as spitters, llamas have become very popular as emotional support animals. Their cousins, alpacas, are also gaining in popularity. Several nursing homes have employed llamas and alpacas as part of an enrichment and therapy program. While these animals still have a persnickety demeanor they do enjoy attention. Llamas and alpacas are similar animals but some differences should be considered when thinking about having a llama or alpaca as an emotional support animal.

Geese

four white geese
Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Another bird species being pressed into employment, geese are not an overly popular choice for an emotional support animal. However, people who love their feathered friends may decide a goose is better than a chicken or turkey as their next emotional support animal. Do not expect your support goose to be welcomed everywhere you go. Many places do have a ban on many of the peculiar emotional support animals.

The rise in popularity of emotional support animals is causing a stir in public places. While working service animals are widely accepted, emotional support animals are not. As people push the envelope of what is considered an acceptable emotional support animal, the more bizarre choices are being banned from public areas including public transit. When choosing an emotional support animal, you do not have stick with a traditional animal but do choose an animal that will be allowed to travel with you when the need arises.

Holly Ramsey
By Holly Ramsey

Holly is a 2nd generation dog breeder/trainer and has over 25 years of experience with several different breeds. She enjoys working with her Japanese Chin and Rough Collies and helping her mom and daughter with their chosen breeds. Most evenings, Holly is hanging out with her daughter watching movies, crafting, or playing with the fur-kids.