7 Unusual Service Animals

Anyone can have a dog or cat as a companion animal but now there are far more options.


Animals, Wellness
Girl getting pet therapy with a horse.

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The use of therapy or emotional support animals (ESA) is growing. That’s because there is a myriad of benefits of having something soft to cuddle with and tell your problems to. In fact, research from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has shown that just spending a few minutes with animals can significantly reduce stress.

With the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic, its no wonder that more people are turning to support animals. But it's not just the usual dogs, cats, or even miniature pigs that are supporting people, in their homes, hospitals, therapeutic centers, or even on airplanes. Check out this list of seven unusual ESA animals.

Miniature Donkey

These small donkeys make great ESA animals, especially for kids, according to Mooshe Me. That’s because these little guys are very affectionate and friendly and who can resist those big front teeth. But not everyone can have a mini donkey live with them because these minis can grow to be 3 feet (.9 meters) tall and weigh over 300 pounds (136 kilograms). Visit a therapeutic farm to reap the benefits of hugging and petting mini donkeys.

Mini donkeys are great support animals

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Bearded Dragon

These little lizards are extremely social and calm around people. While they are not cute and really don’t like to be cuddled, they still like to interact with their human owners and make good ESAs according to Family Pet Planet. You can even register your bearded dragon for emotional support status for depression and anxiety with proper documentation from your doctor.

A lizard can be a PSA.

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These little critters are absolutely adorable but since their backs are covered in spikes, hugging and stroking can be difficult. Turn them over and their bellies are soft, furry, and easy to pet. While you can register hedgehogs as an ESA animal, Mooshe Me recommends finding out if your state or municipality allows them to be kept as pets.

You can pet the soft bellies of hedgehogs.

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While you probably can’t keep a camel in your backyard, you can still receive emotional therapy from ones like Kazzy, a two-humped Bactrian camel who is a US based support animal. She lives on the Lyon Ranch in Sonoma, California and visits schools and nursing homes to cheer people up.

Camels are unusual support animals.

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These small furry animals are very popular pets and make excellent ESAs for people who are on the autism spectrum, or who suffer from anxiety or depression according to Emotional Pet Support. They are soft, furry, friendly, social, and can be litterbox trained. But the best part is that they love to be held, stroked, and carried around.

a ferret is easily trained.

(Milla_Luca / Shutterstock.com)


Trained capuchin monkeys are being used as service animals for people with spinal cord injuries and mobility impairments according to SBS News. These furry helpers can reach things that people with disabilities can’t and provide companionship which also makes them ideal support animals too.

Monkeys can be trained as service animals.

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What’s more comforting than petting a bunny? Using rabbits as ESA animals is not new according to Mooshe Me. They are soft, furry, and calm so they are ideal for people who are anxious or for seniors to be less lonely. Petting a furry animal is also good for your health because it can help reduce your blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.

A senior woman petting comfort bunny.

(Ruslan Huzau / Shutterstock.com)