Exotic Pets Laws – Is It Legal To Buy Exotic Pets?

Exotic Pets Laws - Is It Legal To Buy Exotic Pets?

On the subject of purchasing exotic pets, you have to ensure that it’s legal to own an exotic pet in the state in which you live.

The rules vary quite a bit from one state to another. Here’s a rundown of where you’re allowed to own exotic pets, and the types of animals that you can have.

Alabama

Sugar Glider On Hand

There’s not much information pertaining to weasel ownership, but its domesticated cousin the ferret is legal.

Other animals that you can legally own in Alabama are the sugar glider and serval. Foxes are illegal.

When it comes to wild cats such as lynxes and ocelots, Alabama is one of the U.S. states that doesn’t have clear laws pertaining to these animals.

The same goes for monkeys. If you’re interested in owning a capybara, the laws are fuzzy too – while some sources state that capybaras are illegal to own, others claim that in some areas you’ll need to ensure you have the proper documentation to own them.

Alaska

The ferret is legal to own, but many other animals are completely off limits.

These include big cats such as lynxes – ownership of these can result in fines and imprisonment – foxes, capybaras, sugar gliders, servals, monkeys, and ocelots!

Arizona

Arizona has one of the toughest exotic pet regulations. Owning ferrets is illegal!

Other illegal pets include large cats (hybrid cats are legal, though), foxes, ocelots (they are considered prohibited wildlife), and monkeys.

Smaller exotic pets, such as sugar gliders and capybaras, are legal. For servals, you’ll need a license.

Arkansas

Owning A Bear

Legal animals in Arkansas include ferrets, foxes, and sugar gliders.

When it comes to felines, in 2005 Arkansas put a ban on the private possession of large carnivores and native feline species are also regulated.

This means your chances of owning a lynx are low. In the case of serval and hybrid cats, if you want to own animals not originally from the state of Arkansas, then you must show proof that the animal was legally acquired.

Monkeys in Arkansas can be owned, but large primates, baboons, apes, and macaques are banned. Capybaras are semi-banned so you’ll need a permit for them.

California

California has pretty strict exotic pet rules.

Some animals are illegal to own, such as the ferret, fox, lynx (except for domesticated hybrids), capybara, sugar glider, monkey, and ocelot. If you wish to own a serval, you’ll need to have a permit.

Colorado

Quite a few exotic pets are considered illegal in the state of Colorado, including ferrets, foxes, capybaras, lynxes, ocelots, monkeys, and servals. However, sugar gliders are legal to own.

Connecticut

Woman And Monkey

The ownership of non-domesticated felines is banned, so you can’t own lynxes, servals, and ocelots.

If you want to own a monkey, the rules state that you can’t own a primate that weighs over 50 pounds and marmosets aren’t allowed.

Other illegal animals include foxes, capybaras, and ferrets, but sugar gliders are legal.

Delaware

In this state it’s legal to own ferrets and exotic cats – both large and small, so ocelots, servals, and lynxes are permitted.

Foxes, capybaras, sugar gliders, and monkeys are also legal. However, to own a monkey you need to apply to the state’s wildlife division to gain a permit.

Florida

It’s legal to own ferrets, sugar gliders, and more – but for some exotics you’ll require a permit, such as the capybara.

You’ll need a Class 2 permit for wild cats such as lynxes, servals, and ocelots. You’ll need a Class 3 permit for foxes and monkeys.

Georgia

kangaroo as pet

The state deems it legal to own exotic pets such as ferrets and sugar gliders, but for the latter you have to show proof that the animal was sourced from a facility both regulated and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

You can’t possess an exotic animal such as an ocelot, or serval, unless you have a permit. While lynxes aren’t mentioned, it’s clear that a permit could assist one in their ownership. Foxes, capybaras, and monkeys are illegal to own.

Hawaii

Hawaii is another strict state when it comes to the ownership of exotics.

All undomesticated cats are illegal, as are ferrets, foxes, sugar gliders, and capybaras. Monkeys are allowed as long as you have bonded with the animal.

Idaho

The rules vary quite a bit for different pets. It’s legal to own a ferret, lynx (but you need a permit), serval, sugar glider, and monkey.

However, to keep a monkey you’re required to apply to the divisions of wildlife to get a permit. Ocelots and foxes are illegal to own. There are no restrictions when it comes to capybaras.

Illinois

Holding Fox

It’s illegal to own a ferret, lynx, serval, monkey, and ocelot. You can, however, own a fox, sugar glider, and capybara (which requires a permit).

Indiana

Here, you’re pretty much able to own any exotic pet as long as you have a permit for it.

That goes for lynxes, ocelots, and servals. Monkeys and sugar gliders are legal. If you wish to own a fox, all species are allowed but you’ll need a permit for the red and gray fox as these are native to the U.S.

No laws regulate ferrets, so they potentially can be owned. As for capybaras, you’ll need a permit for them.

Iowa

Dangerous wild animals are banned, so that means you can’t own a lynx, serval, or ocelot. (However, savannah cats and Bengal cats are allowed).

It’s legal to own a ferret, sugar glider, and monkey (simply because monkeys aren’t restricted). It’s illegal to own a fox and capybara.

Kansas

wild cat as pet

In Kansas, you’re forbidden to own a ferret so weasels are out of the question!

Foxes, sugar gliders, monkeys, and capybaras are allowed but you’ll need the proper documentation for the capybaras.

When it comes to big cats, the rules are vague. Dangerous regulated animals are banned, such as leopards and lions, but there’s no mention of lynxes and ocelots. Servals are listed as illegal, however.

Kentucky

In 2005, a ban was placed on the private possession of monkeys, big cats such as tigers, and other dangerous wildlife.

So, lynxes and ocelots are not allowed. Foxes, capybaras, and servals are illegal, and even ferrets can’t be kept as pets! If you want an exotic pet, choose a sugar glider as it’s allowed.

Louisiana

Many exotic pets are illegal. These include lynxes, foxes, servals, monkeys, and ocelots. Ferrets and sugar gliders are allowed. You’ll need a permit for a capybara.

Maine

Maine has more relaxed exotic pet rules.

You can own almost any exotic cat with the proper license, so that means you could own a lynx, serval, or ocelot. Ferrets, foxes, and sugar gliders are legal.

You need a permit to own a capybara. Only monkeys are illegal.

Maryland

Kissing a Ferret

You can’t own foxes, capybaras, or monkeys, and you need a license for ferrets.

Sugar gliders are legal. For lynxes, servals, and ocelots, the rules lean towards restricting exotic pet owners.

They state that you can’t possess a member of the cat family other than a domestic cat. You also can’t own a hybrid if the hybrid weighs more than 30 pounds.

Massachusetts

It’s legal to own ferrets, sugar gliders, and monkeys – as long as your monkey has a permit.

Foxes and capybara are on the banned animals list and you’re not allowed to gain permits for the personal ownership of cats. That means lynxes, servals, and ocelots are out.

Michigan

If you want to own a fox you must have a “Permit To Hold Game In Captivity” for gray and red foxes.

You also need a permit for monkeys. Sugar gliders and ferrets are legal.  You can’t own servals. Capybaras require a permit.

When it comes to wild cats, the law states that people aren’t allowed to own lions, snow leopards, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs, panthers, or clouded leopards.

There is no mention of lynxes or ocelots, which means the lack of restriction could enable you to own them privately.

Minnesota

Woman Holding Monkey

Ferrets are legal, as are sugar gliders. You need a permit for capybaras. Foxes, monkeys, and servals are illegal.

It’s also illegal to own a regulated animal, which is defined as all members of the Felidae family except for domestic cats. That means you can’t legally own a lynx, ocelot, or serval.

Mississippi

Here you can own big cats such as lynxes as long as you have a permit. Foxes, ferrets, sugar gliders, and monkeys are legal.

Small felines, such as ocelots and servals, can be kept without requiring a permit. You also need a permit for capybara.

Missouri

Some exotic pets, such as monkeys, are allowed simply because the state makes no restrictions of them.

You can legally own ferrets, foxes, sugar gliders, and servals – the latter requires a license, though.

If you want to own capybaras you’ll also need permits for them. As for wild cats such as lynxes and ocelots, Missouri law states that they can’t be kept privately.

Montana

Young Girl and Serval

Servals are considered non-controlled, so they can be kept without a permit.

However, foxes, lynxes, and ocelots are not allowed. Ferrets and sugar gliders are legal.

Monkeys are allowed because there are no restrictions against them specifically. If you wish to own a capybara you need a permit.

Nebraska

There are quite a few legal exotic pets in this state: ferrets, foxes, monkeys, sugar gliders, and capybaras (the latter requires a permit).

However, all wild cats are prohibited, so you can’t keep ocelots and lynxes. For servals, it’s recommended that you check county and municipal laws as you might be allowed to own one.

Nevada

There are no laws regarding dangerous wild animals, so you can keep lynxes, servals, and ocelots.

The same goes for capybaras. Monkeys, sugar gliders, and ferrets are legal. Foxes are illegal.

New Hampshire

Man Hugging Wolf

Foxes, capybaras, and monkeys are illegal. Ferrets and sugar gliders are legal.

All wild felines are only meant to be possessed under a state exhibitor permit, so lynxes, servals, and ocelots are not allowed for private ownership.

New Jersey

You can’t get a permit for felids to be kept as pets (ocelots, servals, lynxes).

You can own a ferret and sugar glider as long as you have permits. Monkeys, capybaras, and foxes are illegal.

New Mexico

Many exotics are illegal: all non-domesticated felines such as ocelots, servals, and lynxes; monkeys; capybaras, and foxes. You need a permit for sugar gliders, but ferrets are legal.

New York

Many exotics are illegal here, too. Wild felines (lynxes, servals, ocelots), foxes (except for fennec foxes), and monkeys.

Ferrets and capybaras are legal. Sugar gliders are legal except for in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Brooklyn.

North Carolina

Holding Two Little Monkeys

There’s no restriction placed on capybaras or on the possession of exotic or dangerous animals such as wild felines, but you’ll need to check with your county’s regulations.

It’s legal to own a ferret, fox, sugar glider, serval, and monkey!

North Dakota

Here, it’s legal to own a ferret, fox, sugar glider, serval, and monkey (due to no restrictions).

You can also get licenses for animals such as lynxes, although not much is said about ocelots. For capybaras, you need a permit.

Ohio

It’s legal to own a ferret, fox, sugar glider, and capybara. There are no restrictions when it comes to monkeys.

A law passed in 2012 banned the private possession of wild animals and that includes most cats (so you can’t legally own ocelots and lynxes). Servals are also illegal.

Oklahoma

How To Get DWA License

You can legally own foxes, ferrets, sugar gliders, and servals. You need a permit for a monkey and capybara.

The rules when it comes to undomesticated felines (such as ocelots and lynxes) are that the state will issue non-commercial and commercial wildlife breeder permits but exotic felines are considered exempt from this.

Oregon

Keeping any wild cat is prohibited, so you can’t own an ocelot or lynx. It’s also illegal to own a fox, serval, capybara, or monkey. Only ferrets and sugar gliders are allowed.

Pennsylvania

It’s legal to own foxes but you need a permit. You can also legally own ferrets and capybaras.

Sugar gliders and monkeys are illegal to own. You need a permit for servals and other wild felines, such as when it comes to lynxes and ocelots.

This could take the form of a Wildlife Possession Permit.

Rhode Island

Exotic pets such as foxes and sugar gliders are allowed. You need a permit for a ferret, capybara, as well as to possess any native wildlife.

So, it’s unclear if wild cats such as lynxes and ocelots are allowed. If they’re not native, then the answer is probably no. Servals and monkeys are illegal.

South Carolina

Capybara as Pet

It’s legal to own a ferret, serval, and sugar glider. Monkeys and capybaras have no restrictions, so you can probably own them too.

Foxes are illegal. A 2018 law states it’s illegal to buy any large cats, so you probably won’t be able to own an ocelot or lynx.

South Dakota

You need permits for many exotics you wish to own, such as foxes, capybaras, servals, and monkeys.

Ferrets and sugar gliders are legal. Lynxes are fur-bearing animals, which means they’re not allowed to be kept as pets. Regarding ocelots, permits are required for non-domesticated mammals

Tennessee

It’s legal to own a monkey (as long as it’s not an ape or baboon), ferret, fox, and sugar glider.

Servals are illegal. Class 1 felines (such as lions) are not allowed for private ownership, but the rules mention that all other felines fall under Class 3 – this means that cats such as ocelots and lynxes don’t require permits.

Texas

hugging chimp

You can’t keep wild felines such as ocelots and lynxes because 2001 law states that dangerous wild animals must be banned or regulated by all counties and only a few wild cats are not listed in these rules.

Foxes are also illegal. Legal exotics include ferrets, sugar gliders, capybaras, servals (you need a permit), and monkeys.

Utah

It’s illegal to own wild cats (such as lynxes and ocelots) because permits for these animals are only provided to educational and scientific organizations.

You also can’t own servals, capybaras, or monkeys. Ferrets and sugar gliders are legal, as well as the red fox – other foxes aren’t allowed without permits and these are not usually given to private owners.

Vermont

It’s legal to own ferrets and sugar gliders. Wild cats such as lynxes and ocelots are not legal, and neither are foxes, servals, monkeys, or capybaras!

Virginia

Wild felines aren’t allowed for private possession, so that means ocelots, lynxes, and servals are prohibited.

Monkeys are allowed, as are ferrets (with a permit) and sugar gliders.

Exotic fox species require permits and you’re only allowed to own red and gray foxes if you’re involved in fur farming. If you wish to own a capybara you’ll need a permit.

Washington

Man Holding Two Small Lynx

You can’t own foxes, capybara, or servals, but you can own ferrets, sugar gliders, and monkeys (due to the latter not being specifically restricted).

When it comes to non-native, small felines, such as ocelots and lynxes, these are not regulated.

West Virginia

While you can’t legally own a fox, there are no restrictions in place for monkeys or capybara. You can also own a sugar glider and get permits for servals as well as other cats.

This is because the law states that you can get a permit to keep wild animals as pets as long as they’ve been acquired from commercial dealers or during hunting season.

Wisconsin

Ferrets, sugar gliders, servals, and monkeys are legal. There are no laws pertaining to capybaras.

If you want to own a fox, you can legally own a red fox as it’s considered to be a domestic animal by law.

Other fox species require licenses. You’ll also need a license to legally own a wild cat, such as a lynx or ocelot.

Wyoming

Touching Gray Fox

Ferrets and sugar gliders are legal, while monkeys and servals are not.

Things become a bit tricky when it comes to foxes and wild cats. Some fox species are allowed – these are gray and swift foxes that can be imported and kept with a permit.

As for red foxes, they can be kept without a permit but you’re not allowed to have them imported into the state.

When it comes to wild cats (like ocelots and lynxes), you can’t keep them privately unless you have a license for them.

Finally, as for capybaras, they seem to not be allowed by default. This is because Wyoming bans exotic animals as pets, and defines exotic animals as animals not found in the wild within the state or undomesticated ones.

Conclusion

A note on weasels: there’s not much information pertaining to the ownership of weasels.

Many states have rules in place for its furry cousin, the ferret!

So, if you’re interested in owning a weasel, you’ll have to check your state, county, and city rules when it comes to weasels specifically.

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