Which Exotic Pets Are Legal in the United States?

Updated on March 15, 2018
Melissa A Smith profile image

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

From left, bobcat by John Fowler, lemur by Thowra_uk, wolf by Rexano (used with permission), and fennec fox by Kitty Terwolbeck, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr
From left, bobcat by John Fowler, lemur by Thowra_uk, wolf by Rexano (used with permission), and fennec fox by Kitty Terwolbeck, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr | Source

Which exotic pets are legal in the United States? The better question is which exotic pets are legal in your specified state. Bans vary from state to state. Even within your state, animal bans also exist in certain cities, counties, and neighborhood associations. This article will give you an idea of which pets are generally allowed, but you should always look into the the specific regulations that apply to you.

People’s definitions of an exotic animal vary. The media generally uses the word "exotic" to describe pets that people fear, such as big cats, large snakes, and wolves (even though these canines are native to America).

Exotics are generally any animal other than dogs, cats, farm animals, and common "pocket" pets such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and small rodents like hamsters. Small reptiles are exotic pets, but they are rarely banned. Parrots are another exotic species that rarely faces bans. There are exceptions to these rules, of course.

The Fine Print

The legality of certain animal species may depend specific regulations. Some animals are only legal if you can meet certain requirements, are eligible for a USDA license, or are using the animal for specific, non-pet purposes (e.g. commercial, exhibition, sanctuary, or educational). This article will address animals that are legal for private ownership either without criteria or with criteria that an average citizen can meet.

Exotic Pet Bans

Exotic pets are often misjudged and misunderstood, and misinformation is abundant.

Most exotic pets are illegal in California, and Hawaii has the strictest pet regulations because island ecosystems are the most prone to invasive species (ironically, one of their most prominent invasive species, the domesticated cat, is one of the few pets you can own there).

New York City is famous among exotic pet enthusiasts for its absurd pet restrictions. Common animals in the pet trade such as ball pythons, ferrets, and tarantulas are banned, but still kept illegally by its citizens.

This list is provided as a general guide and for public interest. It should not be taken as a definitive document that verifies the legality of animals one is seeking to keep.

Always check with your state, county, town, ect. to confirm whether an exotic animal is legal for private possession. This list was last updated June, 2013.

Carnivora

Animals in this category that are sometimes kept as pets include, but are not limited to:

  • Big cats (tigers, mountain lions, lions, *cheetahs, leopards)
  • Bears (black bears, sun bears, brown bears)
  • Canines (fennec fox, red fox, silver fox, wolves, wolf hybrids)
  • Hyenas
  • Medium and small cats (servals, caracals, bobcats, Asian leopard cats, hybrids)
  • Mustelids (polecats, ferrets, weasels)
  • Procyonids (raccoons, kinkajous, ring-tailed cats)
  • Skunks
  • Viverrids (genets, binterongs, asian palm civets)

If your state has a ban or requires a permit for animals in the order "carnivora," then all of these animals (excluding whatever listed exceptions) are not legal.

*Cheetahs are rare in the United States and are not kept as pets. They are also not really big cats and are nowhere near as dangerous.

Most of these animals are illegal in many states.

A sunbear "Ursidae." Animals in this group (carnivora) can be big...
A sunbear "Ursidae." Animals in this group (carnivora) can be big... | Source
...and small (a fennec fox).
...and small (a fennec fox). | Source

Some Notable States

  • Hawaii has the most restrictive pet laws. Almost all animals other than cats and dogs are illegal and any pet entering the state must be quarantined
  • Nevada has the loosest exotic pet laws, where some animals such as tigers, non-human primates, elephants, and wolves are legal to own without a permit. However, alligators, crocodiles, coyotes, foxes, raccoons are not legal to own in the state.
  • California also has strict exotic pet laws, which include ferrets, sugar gliders, and hedgehogs.
  • Ohio (where the Zanesville massacre occurred) enacted its exotic pet ban in 2014.

Big Cats (Tigers, Servals, Caracals)

Big cats can be divided into two categories. There are the "true" big cat species (tigers, leopards, lions, cheetahs, mountain lions, jaguars) and then there are the small to medium-sized cats, consisting of servals, caracals, Asian leopard cats, jungle cats, bobcats, fishing cats, and lynxes, which can be found in the diminishing exotic pet trade.

There are also hybrids of servals (Savannah cats), jungle cats, and Asian leopard cats (Bengals). Unfortunately, these animals are often lumped together, with the exception of Bengal cats which tend to be sold with lower wild parentage. These animals are in most U.S. states, despite the claims of organizations like Born Free. Only about five states do not regulate them. One example is North Carolina, but many counties in this state not only ban these animals, but also heavily restrict more common exotics. Also in North Carolina, special regulations exist for native felines.

Native animals such as bobcats and mountain lions often have special regulations.

Source

The smaller cats and hybrids mentioned here pose little or no risk to the public. Currently, no fatalities are listed for all of them. However, they are often banned even though they statistically pose less of a public safety risk than animals that are considered domesticated.

Smaller Cats

Some states, such as Florida, may administer permits for the smaller cats to pet owners who have met certain criteria, such as 1,000 hours volunteering with the sought-after species. The big cats are considered class 1 wildlife and are not legal to own for private use (but can be obtained for commercial use).

Hybrids

Hybrids may be legal in more states, but this depends on the generation. In New York State, Savannah cats are legal if they are the F5 generation.

Current States Where Big Cats Are Legal (Whether All Big Cats or Only a Few)

In some of these states, all big cats are legal. In others, only certain ones are. The bolded states in the list below indicates places where most exotics are not regulated. Note that many of these states have insurance and minimum caging requirements.

  • Indiana
  • North Carolina
  • Mississippi (small cats)
  • Missouri (with a permit)
  • Montana (bobcats and lynxes)
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Texas (although most counties have banned it)
  • West Virginia

A serval
A serval | Source

Most Exotic Birds Are Legal

Commonly kept herbiverous birds (hookbills, small soft bills) are mostly legal in all states, including California, despite its extensive bans against "exotic" pets. Several species are even legal in Hawaii! But some must be banded and you should have a permit.

A macaw
A macaw | Source

Parrots and pet softbills fit nearly every definition of "exotic" animals: they are not domesticated (despite extensive captive breeding), so they retain most of their wild behaviors and are high-maintenance, even somewhat difficult, pets.

Source

In warmer climates, it is possible for pet releases and escapees to result in feral populations that threaten the environment. Birds even bite, which other exotic pets, regardless of size, are never allowed to do without resulting in people pushing for bans against them.

Quaker parrots, also known as monk parakeets, are unusually invasive in temperate climates and are illegal in California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wyoming for this reason.

Raptors, geese, and other native wild birds are regulated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and cannot be held without a permit.

Quaker parrots are invasive in northern states.
Quaker parrots are invasive in northern states. | Source

Non-Domesticated Canines

The only canines that are kept privately in the U.S. are wolves, wolf hybrids, and fox species. Hyenas are sometimes present, although these are more closely related to cats than dogs.

Wolfs and Wolf Hybrids

Like big cats, wolves are illegal in most states. Wolf dogs are rarely excluded from the definition and sometimes purebred dogs are euthanized merely due to the resemblance to their wild ancestors. One exception is in Arizona, where they are legal.

Here is a list of legality status for both the wolf and wolf-dog hybrid. The website may not contain the most up-to-date information, but is a good place to start.

Foxes

Foxes are legal in more states, and some states may allow the hard-to-find Russian domesticated fox. Fennec foxes are common exotic mammal pets that are legal in New York (the definition of wild animal specifically excludes them). Fennec foxes pose zero threat to public safety and should be legal in nearly all states without question.

Fennec foxes are legal in many more states than foxes (red, silver, arctic) and wolves. New York specifically excludes them from the definition of a "wild" animal. They are also legal in: Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Michigan, and there are likely to be others.

A wolf
A wolf | Source

Mustelidae (Ferrets, Weasels, Polecats, Asian Clawed Otters)

Animals in this category are not commonly kept as pets with the obvious exception of ferrets, which are domesticated. Despite domestication and the fact that they pose no threat to public safety at all, ferrets are illegal in California and Washington D.C. No other states except Hawaii have banned these animals, though they are illegal in New York City and a permit is needed for them in Rhode Island. Ferrets are widely kept as pets in California (to the point where many pet stores find it economical to stock supplies for the animal) despite the law and do not run the risk of becoming feral and invasive in that state.

Other mustelids are not legal in many states.

Marbled polecat
Marbled polecat | Source

Skunks, Bats, and Raccoons

These animals are grouped together because they are popular rabies vectors, which is the reason they are regulated (and often prohibited) in many states, despite there being no cases of captive-bred animals harboring the virus.

Skunks

Based on this list, which should be verified for updated information, skunks are legal in Alabama, Florida (where a class 3 permit is required), Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio (permit needed), Oklahoma (import permit and vet needed), Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Skunks should be considered illegal until verified otherwise.

Racoons

Captive-bred (not from the wild) racoons may be legal in the following states, but be sure to confirm that is the case before getting one.

Bats

For bats, laws must be examined carefully. They are probably not legal in most states.

Source

Non-Human Primates

Primates consist of monkeys, lesser and great apes (gibbons, chimpanzees), and prosimians (lemurs, bush babies, tarsiers, slow loris). Most states have bans on this entire group of animals, with smaller species not being excluded. Primate owners often suffer a nightmare existence with the laws regarding non-human primates. Check your laws extensively (as well as the highly specialized care of these animals) before considering a primate.

States Where Non-Human Primates Are Legal

This list may be shorter now or become shorter in time. Some states, including Ohio, have partial bans on specific species.

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • North Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Marmoset
Marmoset | Source

Other Exotics: Kinkajous, Sloths, Muntjac Deer, Tamandua, Porcupine, Ect.

The legality of animals like these varies tremendously. For instance, while kinkajous are mainly frugivorous (fruit-eating), their species falls within the order of Carnivora, which some states ban. Others may ban Procyonidae, which is the order that contains raccoons. Animals like muntjac deer could be regulated with other deer, despite their small size. Be sure to check if there are laws regarding cervids, the family that includes deer. Special laws may also regulate exotic rodents, which can be as small as door mice and as large as capybaras. However, sometimes exotic pets can escape bans if they are not specifically classified in the writing. In New York, some uncommon exotics are still legal because they do not fall under the definition of felids, canines, and bears (such as spotted genets).

Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders are exotic pets that are more common and unfortunately offered to owners who may be unprepared to take on the care of an animal that is more demanding than other pets of a similar size, such as hamsters and gerbils. But there is certainly no reason to ban them, especially in states where it is impossible for them to survive outdoors (most states).

Sugar gliders are illegal in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Utah. Pennsylvania considers them "wild animals" and requires a permit.

Source

Fish

States that ban some fish species do so for environmental reasons, such as protecting native species or the fear that a fish will become invasive if released. Some restricted species in many states include snakeheads (Channa sp.), walking catfish, and lampreys, which have caused massive ecological damage in some parts of the U.S. Banned species are numerous, and vary tremendously in different states.

Here is a list of restricted aquatic species by state. As always, double check the information you find here to make sure it is up to date. Even if a species is not listed under those banned by state law, it may still be illegal to sell, buy, possess, or transfer due to non-state regulations, such as federal law, CITES, the Lacy Act, or the Invasive Species Act. Many of these species are not commonly kept in the pet trade.

Making sure you are aware of regulations is important—not only for you, but for the well-being of your fish. Fish that are in violation of the law can be put to death, even if they were legal at the time you purchased it (for example, this man's well-cared for pet fish of 10 years was killed because of changing regulations).

Notable Pet Fish Species

  • Koi fish and goldfish are illegal in the state of Maine.
  • Glofish are illegal in California.
  • Piranhas are illegal in almost half of states.
  • Freshwater stingrays are illegal in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

Snakeheads are illegal in many states due to their aggressive invasive tendencies.
Snakeheads are illegal in many states due to their aggressive invasive tendencies. | Source

Reptiles

Larger reptiles, such as large constrictor snakes, crocodilians, and monitor lizards, are the most commonly restricted reptiles. Venomous snakes (often erroneously described as "poisonous"), for obvious reasons, are as well. Other reptiles may be restricted for health reasons. Red-eared sliders, for instance, are illegal to sell under four inches (but can be kept) in order to reduce the risk of their transmitting salmonella. Non-native reptiles are illegal to keep in Hawaii because of their potential to live in that climate.

Crocodilians (alligators, caimans): Illegal in most states.

Large constrictors (African rock python, Burmese python, Reticulated python, Anaconda): More and more states are banning these somewhat popular species. Florida is famous for its population of Burmese pythons that exist in the Everglades, but over 90% of the country's climate is inhospitable to the animals.

Venomous reptiles (cobra, mamba, gila monster, twig snakes, ect.): Illegal in Tennessee, Vermont, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Washington, Florida, Indiana, Iowa Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Washington, California, Connecticut, and likely others.

A mamba (venomous)
A mamba (venomous) | Source
Reticulated python
Reticulated python | Source

Before You Buy, Call Your State's Fish and Game Department

This article cannot guarantee which specific species are legal in every state because laws change frequently. In addition, it is imperative that you make sure that the animal you are seeking is legal also in your city, town, neighborhood's association, etc, as well as with your landlord, as violating the law with these entities can also result in your pet's confiscation. Be sure to call your Fish and Wildlife Management Office. Do not attempt to keep pets illegally. Doing so will prevent you from being able to get your animals vet care and put them at risk of being seen by a neighbor and others. While it might be ineffective, make sure your voice is heard regarding the opposition of draconian exotic pet laws.

Questions & Answers

Comments- Add to this list! Do you know of any laws that are not correctly listed here?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Joshua 

      3 weeks ago

      Is it legal to own a black bear in arizona Joshua

    • profile image

      Apothose 

      4 weeks ago

      Little but weirder of a queston then al these others... Why does nothing tell me where i can own a crocodile. This is very important

    • profile image

      Surprize Toyz And Mor 

      6 weeks ago

      Is it possible to have an ant eater as a pet in Tennessee

    • profile image

      luke 

      6 weeks ago

      is legal to own a giant millpede in washington

    • profile image

      Gracie Bradshaw 

      6 weeks ago

      Is it legal to own a river otter in Montana?

    • profile image

      Garrett Nowak 

      2 months ago

      Is it legal to own a bush baby in Michigan?

    • profile image

      PAM 

      2 months ago

      Is it legal to own a Savannah Monitor in Alabama as a pet??

    • profile image

      Rocketman619 

      3 months ago

      I live in Fremont CA.

      Is it legal to own a Bobcat?

    • profile image

      Carlt 

      3 months ago

      Can you own a silky anteater or a Tamandua in Missouri?

    • profile image

      Caddy 

      4 months ago

      Hey there I’ve been having a LOT of issues lately. I’m aware Ringtail Lemurs are allowed in North Carolina HOWEVER. I cannot seem to find out, how to get a license or the requirements in North Carolina. May you help me? It would mean a lot.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      4 months ago from New York

      Jaden lol

    • profile image

      Jaden 

      4 months ago

      Love how these default profile picks make everyone look extra shady.

    • profile image

      Logan 

      4 months ago

      Can yoy own a iguana in south dakota

    • profile image

      Chase 

      4 months ago

      Can you legally own an emu in the state of Arizona?

    • profile image

      Camryn 

      4 months ago

      is it illegal for squirrels in michigan?

    • profile image

      Rachael 

      5 months ago

      Can you own a marmoset monkey in Arkansas or without a licences

    • profile image

      Lola 

      5 months ago

      Can you have a pet bat in Georgia

    • profile image

      Michele 

      5 months ago

      I WANT A BUSHBABY!!!!!!

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      6 months ago from New York

      Romgirl801 Ok thanks

    • profile image

      Romgirl801 

      6 months ago

      Sugar Gliders are actually legal to own in Utah and have been for a while. Just FYI. We own 4 ourselves.

    • profile image

      If I were to move, where can I have an alligator, wolf, a big cat, a squirell, and a pirhana in the U.S. 

      7 months ago

      This was an amazing article, but I believe all animals deserve to be equally treated or all set free

    • profile image

      Douglas 

      8 months ago

      Are we allowed to own pet monkeys in Pennsylvania?

    • profile image

      Ilse 

      8 months ago

      I found your article very interesting. I really do love animals more than anything. And personally I believe "Wild animals" are called wild animals for a reason. They belong in nature. Because no matter how much land you give them they are wild and will get tired of running then having to stop because of a cage. For lots of wild animals such as animals of the canine or feline family can show signs of stress being retrained even if you give them large areas. Now of course I understand if a wild animal is injured and cannot survive on its own it will need help which is understandably okay. But this is my personal opinion. We are all in title to our own.

    • profile image

      jendrea000@Yahoo.com 

      9 months ago

      Exotic animals extracted from their natural environment afect the local natural system. Many suffer or died during transportation. They born free and they will always miss their home or their intuitive wilderness environments.

      Do we want to be under someone's capricious? I will say not for most of us, definitely not for most of the exotic animals.

      Our liberties end when the others living beings start.

    • profile image

      Joshua DeLeon 

      9 months ago

      Why are lemurs illegal in Oregon and can i change that

    • profile image

      kim 

      10 months ago

      are monitor lizards illegal in North Carolina

      especially Charlotte

    • profile image

      {•XX_Fennec fox small•.XX} 

      10 months ago

      Nice!

    • profile image

      Matt 

      10 months ago

      The United States is not a free country. We have so many laws and regulations that are ridiculous. As long as I am not hurting or bothering anyone then what is the problem. I want a Caracal but they are banned in alot of states. If you are responsible and take care of your animals then there's no problem.

    • profile image

      draya 

      10 months ago

      are otters legal in south carolina

    • profile image

      Michael Biscut 

      11 months ago

      What are the restrictions on Wallabies in Michigan? I can't find much info online.

    • profile image

      Michael B 

      11 months ago

      What is the regulations for Wallabys in Michigan? I can't find much info online.

    • dirthawker profile image

      dirthawker 

      13 months ago from Washington State

      On your "States where non-human primates are legal" you listed Washington. I am fairly certain all non-human primates are and have been illegal for quite a few years.

      Section 4 says: "(1) A person shall not own, possess, keep,

      harbor, bring into the state, or have custody or control of a potentially dangerous wild animal"

      Section 1 lists all non-human primates.

      http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2007-08/Pdf... c 238 § 4.

    • profile image

      Capy 

      14 months ago

      Hi, I agree with you. It's fine to have "wild animals" as you're exotic pets. God has given us human beings dominion over the animals. We can eat them, kill them, or have them as pets. Okay, animal activists protest against me all you want. When God gave humanity dominion over the animals, it was in order to care for, tend to, and use those animals to their fullest potential in a just manner. At the time that God gave mankind dominion over the animals, humans did not eat meat (Genesis 1:29). Eating meat did not begin until after the Flood (Genesis 9:1–3), and it was at that time that animals started to fear humans. However, although God changed the way we interact with animals, in that they are now “meat,” we still bear a responsibility to treat animals humanely. I love exotic animals, as I love on an exotic farm.

    • profile image

      Spatz 

      14 months ago

      This is slightly incorrect Wisconsin probably has the loosest laws since there are no restrictions on what animals you can own besides federally banned animals

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      14 months ago from New York

      Uncle Sven: Probably. I think you can have them in most states.

    • profile image

      Uncle Sven 

      14 months ago

      Can you own an Emu in Illinois?

    • profile image

      Andrew Jefferson Pangilinan 

      15 months ago

      Is it legal to own a elephant

    • profile image

      natasha dupuis 

      15 months ago

      i think that the fennec fox is super adorable

    • profile image

      Susjdjdj 

      15 months ago

      Just a question can you have over 26 pets in Iowa because I want to know a limit because I'm getting lizards and squirrels

    • profile image

      Jones people like pets so get ur grubby little hand away form ur phone 

      15 months ago

      I own a lion 4 birds 5 dogs snakes mice hamsters cats I have a lot of animals that I love and they love me back

    • profile image

      Ringneck 

      15 months ago

      Is it legal without a permit to have a pet ring-necked dove in Nevada

    • profile image

      ABWells 

      15 months ago

      Being a pet owner isnt for everyone. Be it exotic pets or mainstream pets. Its a lot of work regardless. And the same could be said of a pet owner of at cat or dog. The fact of the matter is the reason most people have pets is for thier own purpose. So bet it a cat, hedgehog, lizard, snake, hamster, rabbit or what have you its mostly to make the owner feel better. And a lot of times people arnt ready to do whats needed for the pet. So Mr. Jones.. If you dont mind me asking what the reason you have a normal pet??? Is it companionship?? Or maybe cuteness?? A gift for a child or spouse?? Or you just like them?? The inital reson is usally for self.

    • profile image

      Katie 

      16 months ago

      Where would Sloths come into class or are they allowed in Tennessee?

    • profile image

      GalaxyRat 

      16 months ago

      Nice list, I have been thinking about getting an exotic animals for a while. I want to get a fox, capybara, or a leopard cat (although those are endangered and I wouldn't be helping by adopting one. Unless I bred them, but you get the point!).

      Nice Hub! Keep up the good work!

    • profile image

      Bryan 

      16 months ago

      I cant seem to get a deffinent answer about owning a red fox as a pet, in the state of Washington

      please email me personally at bryanmaverick4@gmail.com

      so I can get the message sooner

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      17 months ago from New York

      It's unlikely.

    • profile image

      Coopiendo 

      17 months ago

      can i own an elephant in the state of virginia, i googled that and it was not a specific yes or no answer

    • profile image

      your neighborhood hippie 

      17 months ago

      yo Mr C O Jones i live in america "home of the free" so for you to try and dictate someones wants is against our natural born rights i and everyone else is free to live the life they wont soo hop the fuck off our backs about a pet we want when there is bigger problems than your life to deal with dip shit

    • profile image

      Hannah fuss 

      17 months ago

      Are lemurs Legal

    • profile image

      Elaina 

      19 months ago

      Hello! I have recently started doing some research on Indiana laws about Fennec foxes and I'm having trouble finding what I need. So far, most of the sources I've found have stated that I would need a permit to own one. Is this correct? Also, instead of "buying" I would love to adopt a fox that needs to be re-homed for whatever reason. If you know of anyone I can contact I would really appreciate it!

    • profile image

      FireBee 

      19 months ago

      I really want a fennec fox but my mom won't let me!

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      19 months ago from New York

      I don't know but Mass doesn't sound good. Most places in the Northeast are pretty bad for exotics. Go to NY for fennecs and genets.

    • profile image

      Delihlah 

      19 months ago

      Hey! This was great and I love your profile, is it a genet? I'm trying to do research on genets to find out if I can get one, where I'd have to live and proper care, I currently just moved to Vermont but I'm looking to move back to my home in Mass, not sure if they have a ban on them, I only know wolves and foxes are banned since I had a boyfriend who wanted a fox. I think exotic pets are beautiful and amazing to have around, my stepfather actually had two wolves, they got too big for the house so him being a carpenter built them a huge pen outside with a wooden den under a big pine tree and a sort of climbing place, he was the only one allowed inside because the wolves were used to him and he was one of their "pack." Please excuse this little roller coaster of a comment, I'm just very excited when it comes to these topics :)

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      19 months ago

      It's selfish to want to keep large cats. That animal isn't going to have a fulfilling life in a cage in your backyard.

    • profile image

      Sally C. 

      19 months ago

      Are any foxes (including every fox), legal in Phoenix Arizona? And if they are do you need an exotic permit. Thank you for your help. I hope you can answer this!

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      20 months ago from New York

      Kcs52--I think so, you need to call the DNR.

    • profile image

      Lib D. 

      20 months ago

      I have been researching but I can't find the answer to my question. Are European badgers a legal pet in New York State

    • profile image

      perky lady 

      20 months ago

      Can you have a hedgehog in Hawaii?? They are so cute and I really want one!!

    • profile image

      Matti 

      20 months ago

      Is it legal to own a sloth in southern IL.

    • profile image

      Kcs52 

      21 months ago

      So I'm confused as to whether you can own a red fox in the state of alabama or not? Do you know?

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      22 months ago from New York

      There are a few birds you can keep in HI.

    • profile image

      hi 

      22 months ago

      what do u guys think about owning exotic pets it hawaii?

    • profile image

      John809 

      22 months ago

      how are opossums classified and are the illegal to own in some states

    • profile image

      Matt 

      23 months ago

      In Pennsylvania it is legal to own any venomous snake that you want as long as their not native to the state, I currently have ten breeding Monical cobras and a west African gaboon viper and six hognose.

    • profile image

      Adam 

      2 years ago

      The reason certain animals "exotic" or otherwise were deemed illegal was solely due to irresponsible owners...which sucks bc just like a child tires of an old toy they drop it and move on to the next joyful thing. To be honest I love piranha way more than any bass catfish or queer native species to the state of Ky, but it's due to idiots that I cannot legally obtain something I desire for fear from the state that I'm gonna be tired of them or I couldn't provide the proper tank size to keep them...bs any true lover of exotics is going to go through lengths large or otherwise to take care of said animal. As always idiots mess shit up for everyone else.

    • profile image

      Emma 

      2 years ago

      @ Jones : i want a fennec fox or a river otter because I'm passionate about those animals and I love them. So fuck off with your high horse

    • profile image

      Chris 

      2 years ago

      Love my frogs :D all 8 of them. They're amazing.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Johnathon: I think so but you should check.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Sebastian: Amazing, maybe one day gerbils will be legal?

    • profile image

      johnathan 

      2 years ago

      Are kangaroos legal in ohio?

    • profile image

      Sebastian 

      2 years ago

      I know this article is a bit old now, just thought I'd let you know if you care to update, Glofish and Freshwater Stingrays are no longer illegal in California, and haven't been for quite a bit.

    • profile image

      mary 

      2 years ago

      What exotic pets can you have in Pennsylvania

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Nathan: Certainly not California. Colorado I'm not sure.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      No one: It should be legal, but they require massive tanks.

    • profile image

      Nathan 

      2 years ago

      Is it legal to have a pet sloth in California or, Colorado?

    • profile image

      No one 

      2 years ago

      Do you have any idea if salt water sting rays (cownose) is legal in the state of ny

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Thank you NovaKay.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Fk2002: No. Even ferrets require a permit from the Division of Fish and Wildlife according to this: http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-news/2010/03/30/ri...

    • profile image

      NovaKay 

      2 years ago

      It's really sad that people have such closed minds in terms of animals. SOme of these comments really show that close mindedness. Any animal can be considered "domesticated" or "tame" if they have the right qualities. By definition, tame is an animal that is not dangerous or frightened of people, and domesticated is any animal that is tame and kept as a pet or on a farm. All animals, even “domesticated” ones, such as cats and dogs, could be dangerous. It’s all depends on the situations they are in and how they were raised.

      I see videos of a man on Facebook who rescues wild cats. He plays with them, even the fully grown ones, the way I play with my own “domesticated” cat. Granted, I’m not saying an animal as powerful as a tiger or lion should be kept as a pet by everyone, especially since many are endangered, but many exotic animals are easily tamed when socialized with at a young age and treated with the love and compassion that you would treat your cat or dog with.

      I feel certain animals should have many requirements that need to be met to be allowed to own them, because they would need to have a lot of knowledge to properly care for them (bigs cats, bears, any other harder to care for animals), but I don’t think the privilege to own them should be limited due to the fact that they are labeled with the word ‘exotic”. All exotic means is foreign, and LONG ago many animals we own as domestic pets today were foreign. Cats are thought to originally be from Egypt and places near it.

      Look at animals like the fennec fox, or ferrets, or even racoons. These animals tend to act very similar to cats and dogs. Yes, they have their differences, but they are not crazy wild animals unless raised in a crazy wild environment. They are intelligent and can be taught many things. Things that cats and dogs can learn. Forms of potty training, basic commands, and love.

      Also, many animals that are domesticated are not endangered. Cats and dogs are pretty much the first animals to be domesticated, and they run around the world like crazy. Most animals that are endangered are that way because of hunting (legal and illegal) and natural selection. There are many programs that are working to re-populate the endangered animals. There are a lot of animals that live longer and healthier lives in captivity. When in the right care, animals end up enjoying human company as much as the humans enjoy theirs.

      Thank you Melissa for this informative and helpful page.

    • profile image

      Fk2002 

      2 years ago

      Is it illegal to own a tiger in Rhode island. I want one but I can't find anything about Rhode island restrictions. Could you help me out?

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      It's not surprising you agree with him, as you both don't know what you're talking about.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Dirt101: In the state, not the city.

    • profile image

      Dirt101 

      2 years ago

      Can you own a headgehog in New York

    • profile image

      Lilydirt101 

      2 years ago

      I agree with Mr.Jones you should not really have a exotic animal as a pet they are met to be in the wild and there going extinct and endangered, I mean I live in New York so we are allowed to have have coy and goldfish u can own 1 of those u don't HAVE to own a piranha, I mean if u get a endangered/exotic pet you should get more than 1 so that they can breed, if you don't you are taking away many of that type of species, because that animal could have been mating with another animal of that species they make s baby that's boosting up the number of that specie that that animal is (I'm not a scientist but this is my honest opion) (again I'm ONlY am 11years old)

    • profile image

      Krys 

      2 years ago

      Sugar gliders are in fact legal in Utah according to the Utah Admin Code R657-3-2.

    • profile image

      Eva Kerr 

      2 years ago

      I find it ridiculous that people would put laws banning animals that are just as harmless as a cat or a dog. Me and my brother both own boa constrictors, while mine is still very young, my brothers is full grown and though he is intimidating to other people by his size, he is the most docile snake I have ever come across. Neither one of our snakes that we've ever owned (he owned another constrictor previously that died from mites) have ever bitten anyone or even hissed at anyone for that matter. Our dogs, however, have injured more people than I can count (although it was by accident) and the same goes for our cats. I do agree that exotic pets are more fulfilling to own, just knowing that you can care for an animal and give them the love and attention they deserve is enough, which sadly the cats and dogs we've owned over the years did not want as much attention as we were willing to give them.

      For example, I got 2 ferrets a while ago and I love them so much. While they are a mess, they are absolutely worth it. Every time I walk by them they always stop what they're doing immediately and basically trip over themselves trying to come play with me. Even if I just finished playing with them for an hour or so and they're worn out, they still get excited every time they see me and sometimes fall asleep on my hands or lap while we're playing, lol. And all the people out there in the world saying that different animals cannot get along is far from true. Our cats and dogs coexist in and out of the house and while the cats usually avoid the ferrets (which isn't abnormal, they avoid us too), there has never been any conflict. In fact, our dogs get along so well with the ferrets that they play with each other as well. No incidents have ever occurred from that either. Most people don't even consider how loving a creature can be just because of all the stereotypes they've heard about them.

      Me and my mom are practically the same when it comes to animals. They are our children and we love them all equally, they are our joy and happiness and playing with them/spending time with them is like therapy to us when we've had a bad or stressful day. I've been doing a lot of research lately because my mom and I have been talking about possibly owning a pet fox. We live out in the country on 18 acres of land in South Carolina so there is plenty of room for one and we both have very strong dedication when it comes to our animals. The only issue is I'm not sure if it is technically illegal in our state. On the state regulations I read that it is illegal to own foxes native in our state (red and grey foxes) but it never specifically said that you couldn't own fennec foxes or marble foxes (which is what we have been talking about possibly getting). While I've read that marble foxes were genetically modified by humans specifically for domestication, I'm not completely sure if they are illegal or not in my state and have not been able to find a clear answer.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Thanks Rose.

    • profile image

      Rose McVaugh 

      2 years ago

      Hello! I want to mention that from what I've read, Indian Ring Neck parrots are (unfortunately) illegal to own here in New Jersey. Not sure if you want to add that, but I figured it was worth mentioning

    • profile image

      richardcruce 

      2 years ago

      to own real tigers for pets in the state of ky so i can raise them to keep themfrom diappearing

    • profile image

      richard cruce 

      2 years ago

      to make new laws that we can have real tigers for pets in the of ky

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      "owning exotics should not be banned but LIMITED to those fully qualified"

      I have to say that this applies to all animals. There is no way to GUARANTEE that the right people end up with the right animals. Some people shouldn't have pets at all. It's still wrong to place bans on harmless small species. It's just common sense. Obviously chimps are drastically different from other pets.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      2 years ago

      As an avid animal lover, and biologist, I just want to say that owning exotics should not be banned but LIMITED to those fully qualified and who have been licensed (maybe even possibly taken a class or two on their pet of choice by a zoologist?). This comment isn't meant to bash exotic owners at all! Almost all of the comments by owners have talked about the love and dedication they have to their animals. That's great! But not everyone is meant to own exotics, and therefore, to own an exotic you should have to prove your competency. My cousin owns and breeds beautiful snakes and hand-raises them from hatchlings and they are his pride and joy. His 8 year old son handles them. They have never been aggressive to father or son, and it's all because they know what they're doing.

      All animals run on instinct and have the potential to be dangerous to the owner and the public. A scared dog running through a residential area is just as dangerous s an exotic of comparable size. That being said, some animals probably shouldn't be owned, such as advanced primates, mostly for morality reasons. Captive chimps deserve to be in a sanctuary with other chimps, not in a living room ( my personal opinion on that).

      Anyway, thank you for your article on exotics-owning. I thought ferrets were legal everywhere and have only recently begun the serious research needed before owning.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      2 years ago

      Sugar gliders are legal in Minnesota

    • profile image

      ManNewt 

      2 years ago

      Mr. B M Gunn you might want to scratch Arizona from the list.

      http://lm.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.az...

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      It does thanks B M Gunn.

    • B M Gunn profile image

      B M Gunn 

      2 years ago from A Place Outside Of Time And Space...Somehow...

      This was a wonderful article. I just wanted to alert you about some inaccuracies in your state list for primates: they are sadly now illegal in Illonois and Washington, but they ARE still legal in Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, which wasn't on your list. Hope this helps.

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      Thanks Geophrey. I'm pretty sure red foxes are illegal in NC because they are native animals.

    • profile image

      Geophrey 

      2 years ago

      I'm trying to do some research on Red Foxes in NC as far as laws cause im lookin to get one. While this article didnt really give me the information i was looking for it did give me some information on others i was thinking about getting. Thanks for the info, best of luck on that stalker guy from Amazon. People like that can be a real bother

    • profile image

      Brittany 

      2 years ago

      Well at first, when I got curious I found the fennec fox. But, as my curiosity grew I wanted to know if a Red fox, Silver, arctic, etc. could be kept as well since I was more interested in those. I see that the Fennec is actually legal in most states and that information was easy to come by, but when I got to regular red foxes that's when I was just running around in circles without a clear answer. It doesn't make sense to me that they can just ban something as simple as a racoon, skunk, or fox even if there's papers of domestication, while even though dogs are domesticated can do more damage to you if aggressive, than a skunk....

    • Melissa A Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Melissa A Smith 

      2 years ago from New York

      It depends on the fox. Native foxes might be regulated differently from exotic foxes (fennec fox). Breeders have a license to breed and sell. Their customers live out of state. There is no excuse for any fox ban, they are just done out of ignorance. Sometimes they make exceptions for fur farmers, and people exploit that to get pets. They'd rather foxes be bred and killed for fur than be someone's pet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)