The praying mantis isn't exactly a cuddly creature, what with its spiked forearms, freaky eyeballs, and penchant for ripping its lovers' heads off. But despite the insect's unconventional nature, it is an incredibly popular exotic pet, especially in Asia, Africa, and South America. Sure, you can't take one out to for a walk or play fetch with it, but mantises must be good for something, because tons of 'em are sold to happy owners every year.
Indeed, these alien-looking insects aren't the only pets out there who defy convention. In this slideshow, we'll introduce you to 14 more animals that are gaining popularity as companions for humans—some cute, some nightmarish, and some that you've never even heard of. Enjoy!