10 Exotic Pets That Are Legal to Own in New York State - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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10 Exotic Pets That Are Legal to Own in New York State

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

Which Exotic Animals Are Legal Pets in New York State?

Most exotic animals are regulated by the Department of Conservation (DEC). When it comes to exotic pets, ‘The Big 5’ are defined as 'wild animals' and are illegal as they are in many states. These animals include bears, primates, big cats, canids, venomous and large reptiles (crocodilians, large constrictor snakes, and large monitor lizards). A lot more animals are legal in New York State, as opposed to New York City, where most animals are illegal.

Note: All information comes from online resources and personal knowledge. You should contact your state’s agency as well as your city, county, and neighborhood association if you are serious about adopting uncommon exotic pets.

The pictured coati is albino

The pictured coati is albino

1. Coatimundi

This long-nosed South American relative of the raccoon should be legal according to the New York’s wild animal ordinance since it is not a native animal it doesn’t fall under any native game laws. The coatimundi is a relatively large animal with reasonable intelligence and capable dexterity.

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2. Binturong

This large creature is famous for having an odor that resembles popcorn. Also called a bearcat but not a member of the feline family, binturongs may look dangerous but most of them living in pet situations are even-tempered. Since they do not fall in the category of a non-domesticated member of felidae and they are non-native to New York, they are not a regulated species in the state.

Fennec Foxes Are Legal Pets in New York State

Fennec Foxes Are Legal Pets in New York State

3. Fennec Fox

Luckily for New Yorkers, fennec foxes are the only species from ‘The Big 5’ that are legal to own in the state. Before the animal ban was finalized in NYS, fennec fox owners brought their pets to meet legislators and with the truth that at least some exotic pets aren’t so bad staring them in the face, this species was exempted. It’s too bad more owners of more species didn’t come forward and perhaps prove the truth that should be obvious: minimally, smaller exotic pets are not any more dangerous than dogs and cats and should never be banned. Unfortunately, that leaves other small fox species like the bat-eared fox illegal.

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4. Kinkajou

All primates are illegal as pets in New York, but a kinkajou can make a similar-looking replacement. They are actually in the raccoon family, but possess a prehensile tail and monkey-like form. Like primates, they should have a spacious enclosure and lead a mentally active lifestyle. Some people report that they can have a nasty side. They won’t be killing anyone but you will want to avoid a bite from a kinkajou’s decently-sized dentition.

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5. Wallaby

Exotic marsupials are legal in New York. This includes sugar gliders, short-tailed opossums, wallabies and kangaroos. The animals are unusual but harmless to the general public.

Unfortunately for one wallaby owner in Westchester, their well-cared for pet escaped its enclosure in 2014. Macropods require secure outdoor housing.

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6. Hyena?

There may very well be a loophole in New York’s ‘Big 5’ ban; it seems to leave out members of hyaenidae, which include the aardwolf, striped hyena and spotted hyena. People mistakenly think these are part of the canine family, but they are in their own group and are more closely related to cats, being feliforms. This makes hyenas technically legal in New York State.

However, should someone be found with a hyena, it is certain the officials will realize their error and enact an emergency update to the law, and without a grandfather clause, the bold owner might be in some trouble. It is likely no city or county would be open to approving such an animal as well. Even if they have no existing laws against it, they’ll likely create it.

10-exotic-pets-legal-in-new-york

7. Exotic Squirrels

The grey and fox squirrels are native rodents that are regulated under game laws but non-native squirrels such as the prevost’s squirrel, Guayaquil Squirrel and Siberian chipmunk (which look very similar to New York’s native chipmunks) can be possessed. Relative to other rodents, squirrels can be challenging pets because of their energy and space requirements.

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8. Capybara

Being an exotic rodent, this hefty semi-aquatic guinea pig relative can live with you in the state as well as maras, pacas, and agoutis. Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world.

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9. Porcupine

Just like hedgehogs, a porcupine can become your quilled companion. They are simply large rodents. Probably except native North American porcupines, the species you can have include African Crested, Palawan (Asia) , and prehensile-tailed porcupines (South America).

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10. Boa Constrictors

In New York, ‘large’ constrictor snakes are illegal. Large is a relative term but is better defined by species that have killed humans or are around the same size as those that have, although this is an extremely rare occurrence. Such snakes include anacondas, Burmese pythons, African rock python, and Reticulated python, all of which are banned. Boa constrictors are relatively large snakes and there has been a recorded death from this species in recent time, however they do not get as large as the others, reaching 3-13 feet depending on the species and care.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Are pet monkeys illegal in New York?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Are sugar gliders legal in New York State?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I own an otter in New York state?

Answer: No.

Question: Can I own a fox in New York State?

Answer: Yes, but only fennec foxes.

Question: Can I own an axolotl in New York State?

Answer: Yes, you can own an axolotl in the state of New York.

Question: Are hedgehogs legal as pets in New York State?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Are ball pythons illegal in New York?

Answer: No, but they are in NYC.

Question: Can I keep a pet pot belly pig in New York?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I own a monkey in New York?

Answer: No, primates are illegal.

Question: Is the Ball Python legal to own in NYS?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can you own a savanah monitor in New York State?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I own a sugar glider in New York ?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Are monkeys legal to own in New York state?

Answer: No.

Question: Are Bush Babies legal to own in NYC?

Answer: Bush Babies are illegal in New York State.

Question: Can I own a ferret in New York City?

Answer: Not legally.

Question: Can you own a toucan in New York State?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I own a lemur in New York?

Answer: No, primates are illegal.

Question: Is a marble fox okay to own in New York state?

Answer: A marble fox is a red fox with a special coat color, they are also illegal.

Question: Are iguanas legal to own in upstate New York?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can I own an octopus in New York State?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Are skunks legal to own in New York?

Answer: No.

Question: Is an arctic fox legal to own in New York State?

Answer: Foxes are illegal in New York State except fennecs.

Question: Is it legal to own a captive bred, descented skunk in the state of New York? If not then why?

Answer: No, they are considered to be rabies vectors and are illegal along with raccoons, bats, and foxes. They are also native animals.

Question: Are ball pythons legal to own in New York state?

Answer: Yes, in the state.

Question: Are peacocks legal to own in the U.S.?

Answer: Yes, I think they are legal in all 50 states.

Question: Can you own a peacock in New York state?

Answer: Yes, they are common livestock.

Question: What snakes are allowed in NYC?

Answer: Non-venomous, non-pythons, non-boas, like king snakes, milk snakes, garter snakes, etc.

Question: Can I own a pet raccoon in New York City?

Answer: No, raccoons are not legal in New York state.

Question: Can I own a venomous bush viper in New York State?

Answer: Venomous snakes are illegal in New York State.

Question: Are ferrets legal to own in New York?

Answer: Yes, in the state.

Question: Can I own a marmoset in New York State?

Answer: No.

Question: Are birds, such as ravens and crows, illegal to own in New York?

Answer: I think so, especially if they are non-native crows (African).

Question: Is it ok to own a pet hedgehog in New York state?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Can you own a spider monkey in New York?

Answer: Primates are banned in New York.

Question: Can I own a pangolin in New York state?

Answer: They barely survive in captivity, no private owners have them in the U.S., and they are in about 2 AZA zoos I think. They are highly endangered and wouldn't be able to cross state lines, though they are technically legal to possess I think.

Question: Can I own tarantulas in New York City?

Answer: Venomous animals aren't legal.

Question: Can you own a serval in new york state?

Answer: No, exotic cats and hybrids more than the F5 generation are not legal.

Question: Can I own Savannah cat in NYC ?

Answer: No, hybrids are still considered exotic cats. In New York State, hybrids should be 'F5' and lower. These are basically regular cats. You can probably get away with that in NYC if they just look 'normal,' but it's probably illegal.

Question: Can you own an otter in New York state?

Answer: No, otters are illegal to possess under New York's furbearer laws.

Question: Can I own a raccoon in New York?

Answer: No, a raccoon cannot be owned in New York.

Question: Are caimans illegal in New York City?

Answer: Yes, they are illegal.

Question: Can you own a sloth in New York State?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Do otters make good pets?

Answer: No, unless you have a great facility that will make cleaning up after them easy and will meet their enrichment needs.

Question: Are red foxes legal to own in New York?

Answer: No.

Question: I'd love to own a Serval, but I'm in New York State. Is it legal? I am also considering a fennec fox.

Answer: Servals are illegal but fennec foxes aren't.

Question: What exotic animals can I have in Brooklyn?

Answer: Most exotic animals are illegal in NYC.

Question: Is a red fox legal in New York State?

Answer: No.

Question: Are tamanduas legal in New York City and/or New York State?

Answer: Yes, but only in the state.

Question: Are raccoons legal as pets in New York State?

Answer: No.

Question: Can I own a Jerboa in New York State?

Answer: Yes, but good luck finding one.

Comments

Yeiry Matinez on September 08, 2020:

Can I have a mini pig pet in NY?

Poopbutt on September 04, 2020:

Can you own a lynx in New York or Canada

Bigfarts on September 01, 2020:

Can you have a pet monkey in ny?

A.B on August 20, 2020:

Can I own a Ball Python in Brooklyn?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 26, 2020:

Darren TTH: I don't think so.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 26, 2020:

New yorker1278: no.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 26, 2020:

James Gaffney Monitors are not legal in NYC.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 26, 2020:

Panther: they should be.

Darren TTH on July 23, 2020:

Can you own a beaver in New York State?

Sws on July 15, 2020:

Can you own a toucan ?

New yorker1278 on July 09, 2020:

Are Ackie monitors legal in nyc

James Gaffney on July 09, 2020:

Can you own a Ackie Monitor in NYC?

Arianna on July 02, 2020:

Can you own ducks in New York State?

Panther on June 29, 2020:

Are Zebras legal, or do you need a permit to own one?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 03, 2020:

logan wilson Yes.

WolfHazel on May 16, 2020:

Cab i have a pet Sable in the state?

braxton on May 15, 2020:

is it illegal to have a pet fox

annabel on May 15, 2020:

@sd hedgehogs are not illegal, i live in new york state and I have one. but you can only have African pigmy hedgehogs

logan wilson on May 14, 2020:

do you require a permit to get a raccoon in New York state?

sd on May 02, 2020:

are hedgehogs illegal

Allison Gonzalez on April 27, 2020:

I was thinking while searching through this page if ferrets are legal and do you need a permit?

Nobodyspecil on April 25, 2020:

I was wondering if sloths were illgal In New york and they are I just wanted to do some research but konwing i will never own one so i ask whats fhe best thing to keep them in a cage or outdoor area for them to climb ?

lilica on April 25, 2020:

where can i own a arctic fox?

Tara on April 01, 2020:

Can I own a meerkat in Buffalo New york?

vhkdh on March 20, 2020:

are Argentine black and white tegus legal in New York State

Hi on March 11, 2020:

Can you have a lace monitor in ny

Dankulczyk on February 25, 2020:

What exotic animals can you own in Buffalo, NY?

Dave on February 07, 2020:

Are blue iguana legal in new york

Harsh on February 06, 2020:

Are raccoons legal in New York

ariana bravo on January 07, 2020:

can you own a TOUCAN in the bronx?

Jayden Lee on November 17, 2019:

Can you own a zebra in. New York ?

ji ge on October 10, 2019:

can i keep an octopus in NYS?

Rob on October 02, 2019:

Can I own a KINKAJOU on long island NY?

Emily on September 22, 2019:

Yo. I wanna sugar glider. Me pet.

Melinda Martin on August 04, 2019:

Yes u can have a hedgehog in ny state lots of ppl do

Ava-Milan Hernández on July 11, 2019:

Can you own a hegehog in NYC please answer

Toni VanScott on July 10, 2019:

Can I own a macaw in New York

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 22, 2019:

Crocodilians aren't legal in New York.

joe on June 21, 2019:

can i own dwarf caiman in NY

Lavvy on May 27, 2019:

Can you own a flying lizard in New York state?

Khyra on May 11, 2019:

Can you own a mini pig in ny state ?

Jayden Lee on April 13, 2019:

Can you own a Lion and a tiger in New York State

Lela on April 12, 2019:

Can you own a teacup pig?

Jayden Lee on March 17, 2019:

Can you own a Zebra , a Giraffe and a Ostrich In New York State

Chris on March 09, 2019:

Can you own a mink in New York state

Ysmarjuri Gabin on March 05, 2019:

Are bearded dragons legal in New York City ?

Allyssa on February 23, 2019:

Can you own a mini pig Suffolk county, Long Island?

Chris on February 17, 2019:

What type of lizards can I own in ny?

Kristy on October 09, 2018:

Can u own a mini pig in nys

Logan on August 25, 2018:

Can you have a raccoon

Banana on July 10, 2018:

Are sheep legal as pets in NYC?

Dassy on July 02, 2018:

Can I have an ocelot in New York

ken c. on June 11, 2018:

boas are not illegal the only boa that is is the anaconda both green,and yellow and speckled etc.

Jayden Lee on June 01, 2018:

Can you own a elephant in New York state

Zakk on March 05, 2018:

Boa's are legal to own in New York.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on November 28, 2017:

Probably.

HEDGEHOGS? on November 28, 2017:

are hedgehogs legal in long Island??

Cathy on November 10, 2017:

Are hedgehogs legal in NY?

Anybody looking for raccoon pets on October 11, 2017:

If you’re looking poking for a Pet raccoon message me. Across the street there’s an infestation u can have them all

Marlon hernandez on October 11, 2017:

can i have a pet racoon in new york if i can were can i get one

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 24, 2017:

Nope.

Hi on September 24, 2017:

Can you have a pet monkey in ny state

Sally on September 06, 2017:

Sugar gliders are legal in New York State, however, in the 5 boroughs of NYC and some western cities of NYS, they are illegal.

Cyndy on August 28, 2017:

Irresposible tenant let boa escape. Are they legal in nassau county, ny

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 26, 2017:

Yes, peafowl are legal in most places, maybe all.

Charlene on August 22, 2017:

Can you have a pet arctic fox in New York State

Jen on June 26, 2017:

Still researching fennics but I have a cpl questions, do they get along well with older children in the home? Are they very territorial? Do they spray like a cat or stink like a ferret? They don't seem to require alot of maintenance to be a happy part of the family, am i correct here or have i missed something? Thank you for the information you provide it is very helpful.

Bob on June 06, 2017:

Hmmm, Dogs and cats are carnivores, why aren't they banned?

and dont use they "domesticated" word....almost any animal (with some exceptions) can be domesticated if raised from a newborn.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 05, 2017:

Just fennecs.

Batbun Away on June 04, 2017:

So fennel foxes are A-OK. What about other types of fox?

linda Iacono on May 08, 2017:

Those sugar gliders are so cute, but I have enough trouble sleeping. I'm glad I didn't impulse buy. Every one should check out just you'e in for. But they are just too cute. Do cats mingle with sugar gliders? ty

AdamNy on April 21, 2017:

DebbieDoubtful. Their is a difference between NYC and NYS.

cool kid on March 30, 2017:

can you have a pet Alaskan munk

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 16, 2017:

Debbie Doubtful: nope

Debbie Doubtful on March 15, 2017:

Well im glad I read NY Dept of Health website after reading this page...To author, there is some misinformation on here, specifically squirrel, boa constrictors are illegal in NY...and so are sugar gliders

AP on March 15, 2017:

A lot of states blanket ban all carnivores, and those that don't usually ban hyenas. In terms of what animals seem to be most commonly banned I'd say it's a "big four" of carnivorans, primates, crocodilians, and venomous snakes. (Elephants are also usually banned, but anyone who can afford to keep an elephant can afford to jump through the hoops to become an educational facility of some sort.)

A second tier of commonly-banned animals includes native mammals, deer, bats, and armadillos (all due to disease concerns), Virginia opossums (caught up in furbearer regulations), large constricting snakes (due to safety concerns) and quaker parakeets (due to environmental concerns, though as those have proven unfounded those laws are being slowly repealed).

I think "Born Free" focuses on getting carnivores and primates banned in particular, and this explains why marmosets and tamarins aren't exempted from primate bans, as the are in many jurisdictions in Europe. Any state which at least bans those animals is a good start in their eyes, though they also lobbied Massachusetts not to legalize sugar gliders, showing that they're opposed to all exotic animal ownership and probably all animal ownership period.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 02, 2017:

Nope.

Tori on March 01, 2017:

I thought sugar gliders were illegal in New York.

ManNewt on February 25, 2017:

Don't worry, you can place the venomous reptiles and the big reptiles on the same category as intimidating reptiles, and voilà five groups.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 24, 2017:

I forgot to add them. Too bad, I wanted it to stay at 5.

ManNewt on February 22, 2017:

If primates arenot on the big 5, then why are they banned?