Search
Close this search box.

List of Legal Exotic Pets in United States

Legal Exotic Pets in United States

In the United States, regulations regarding exotic pet ownership vary widely from state to state and even within municipalities. From colorful reptiles to majestic birds, the allure of owning a unique creature as a companion is undeniable.

When considering a pet, most people typically think of common dogs such as Labradors or German Shepherds, and cats like Maine Coons or Persian cats. But in the U.S., you can legally own exotic animals that you might have only seen in zoos. Most of them are considered extremely dangerous animals and can only be safely kept with adequate training and suitable living conditions.

Certain states permit ownership of animals such as cougars, capybaras, sloths, kinkajous, fennec foxes, and even alligators.

5 Most Popular Exotic Pets in US

It’s important to note that laws and rules regarding exotic pets vary from one state to another. What might be legal in one state could be prohibited in another, and regulations can change over time. Additionally, some animals may require permits or special licenses for ownership.

Whether these pets are legal in your state, it’s essential to consider whether owning such pets is advisable. Exotic animals demand a high level of expertise, care, and precaution. Many of these animals can pose significant dangers, emphasizing the importance of leaving them in their natural habitats.

Table of Contents

What is an Exotic Animal

What is an Exotic Animal

An exotic animal is typically a species that is not native to the area where it’s kept as a pet, often possessing distinctive physical traits or behaviors compared to more commonly domesticated pets.

An exotic pet is a relatively uncommon or unusual choice for domestication, often associated with wild species rather than traditional pets. Definitions of exotic pets vary based on cultural norms, geographic location, and evolving perceptions. For some, animals like raccoons or ferrets may be considered exotic, while some individuals use the term specifically for animals like tigers, lions, or snakes.

Exotic Animals Permit

Exotic Animals Laws

An Exotic Animal Permit, also referred to as an Exotic Wildlife Permit or Exotic Pet Permit, is a legal document issued by governing authorities. It grants the right to own, possess, or breed exotic animals within a specific legal authority. These permits are typically obligatory for individuals who seek to keep animals not commonly considered domesticated or native to the area.

Any person or organization found to own an exotic pet without a license can result in substantial fines, and authorities may seize the animals from the owner’s possession. Additionally, businesses such as private colleges or state universities licensed by incorporated humane societies that house endangered and threatened species are also required to obtain a permit. This requirement applies whether the purpose is for breeding, education, or scientific research.

The regulations surrounding exotic animal permits vary significantly from state to state. While acquiring an exotic animal permit may be straightforward in some states, it is a critical requirement for individuals or organizations in others.

Here, we embark on an exploration of the wide range of legal exotic pets that can be owned in the United States, categorized by states:

Legal Exotic Pets in New York

In New York, the rules about having exotic pets are strict. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) controls who can have exotic animals as pets. Here is the list of some exotic pets you can own in New York:

Legal Exotic Pets in New York
  • Sloth
  • Kinkajou
  • Kangaroo
  • Porcupine
  • Capybaras
  • Boa Constrictors
  • Fennec Fox
  • Coatimundi
  • Binturong
  • Honey Glider
  • Exotic Squirrels
  • Wallaby
  • Ferrets
  • Ball Pythons
  • Corn Snakes
  • Hedgehogs

Legal Exotic Pets in California

In California, rules governing exotic pet ownership are among the strictest in the United States. Managed by various agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the state enforces a comprehensive framework for the possession and ownership of exotic animals. Here is the list of 15 unique animals you can own as a pet in California:

Legal Exotic Pets in California
  • Savannah cat
  • Bengal cat
  • Wolf Dogs
  • Camels
  • Toucans
  • Tarantulas
  • Alpacas and Llamas
  • Chameleons
  • Zebras
  • Monitor Lizards
  • American Bison
  • Large Constrictor Snakes
  • Ostrich
  • Bearded Dragons
  • Desert Tortoises

Legal Exotic Pets in Ohio

In Ohio, regulations regarding exotic pet ownership are relatively lenient. The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is responsible for overseeing the possession and ownership of exotic animals, enforcing specific regulations and permits for certain species. Here are several exotic pets that individuals can legally own in Ohio:

Legal Exotic Pets in Ohio
  • Monkey
  • Mink
  • Raccoons
  • Coydogs
  • Venomous snake
  • Crocodiles and Alligators
  • Coyotes
  • Bobcats
  • Wolf dogs
  • Savannah Cats
  • Asian Leopard Cats
  • Bengal Cats
  • Opossums
  • Skunks
  • Kangaroo
  • Bats
  • Fennec foxes
  • Pale foxes
  • Gray foxes
  • Arctic foxes
  • Red foxes

Legal Exotic Pets in South Carolina

In South Carolina, the legality of owning exotic pets can vary, and regulations should be verified with local authorities. Here is a general list of some legal exotic pets in South Carolina:

Legal Exotic Pets in South Carolina
  • Gray foxes
  • Mink
  • Raccoons
  • Coyotes
  • Coydogs
  • Monkey
  • Bobcats
  • Wolfdogs
  • Servals
  • Savannah Cats
  • Asian Leopard Cats
  • Bengal Cats
  • Skunks
  • Capybara
  • Opossums
  • Bats
  • Ferret
  • Kangaroo

Legal Exotic Pets in North Carolina

It’s important for potential owners to verify the specific regulations and permit requirements for each species with the appropriate authorities in North Carolina. Here is the list of 10 legal exotic pets in North Carolina:

Legal Exotic Pets in North Carolina
  • Wolf dog
  • Marten
  • Brushtail Possum
  • Capybara
  • Ferret
  • Skunk
  • Fox
  • Racoon
  • Ringtail
  • Monkey

Legal Exotic Pets in Texas

Below are examples of exotic pets that are legal to own in Texas:

Legal Exotic Pets in Texas
  • Chimpanzees
  • Fox
  • Racoon
  • Bears
  • Capybaras
  • Ocelots
  • Sloths
  • Hedgehogs
  • Monkey
  • Snakes
  • Lemurs
  • Kangaroo
  • Squirrels

Legal Exotic Pets in Florida

Florida is recognized for its rich variety of wildlife and comparatively permissive regulations concerning the ownership of exotic pets. Following are some exotic animals that are legal in Florida:

Legal Exotic Pets in Florida
  • Hedgehogs
  • Fox
  • Racoon
  • Ferrets
  • Sugar gliders
  • Wild horses
  • Monkey
    African golden cats
  • Alligators
  • American badgers
  • Bobcats
  • Cassowary
  • Giraffe
  • Macaques
  • Mangabeys
  • Ocelots
  • Honey possums

Legal Exotic Pets in Alaska

Alaska implements strict regulations concerning exotic pet ownership, due to its unique environmental and ecological factors. The state’s laws primarily aim to safeguard native wildlife and ecosystems. The list of legal exotic pets is relatively limited compared to other states. The list includes:

Legal Exotic Pets in Alaska
  • Wolves
  • Some wild cats
  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Reindeer
  • Elk
  • Toucans
  • Guinea pigs
  • Macaws
  • Caribou
  • Black bear

Legal Exotic Pets in Hawaii

In Hawaii, regulations regarding exotic animal ownership are among the strictest in the United States due to the efforts to preserve native wildlife. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) strictly regulates the importation and ownership of exotic animals to protect the local environment. The list of exotic animals that are legal in Hawaii includes:

Legal Exotic Pets in Hawaii
  • Pot-bellied pigs
  • Pit bull
  • Lizards
  • Chinchillas
  • Peafowl
  • Tree frogs
  • Amazon Parrot

Legal Exotic Pets in Virginia

Legal Exotic Pets in Virginia
  • Wolves
  • Wolf dog
  • Coyotes
  • Fox
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Otter
  • Ferret
  • Bats
  • Brown tree snakes
  • African dwarf frogs
  • Swamp eels
  • Hogs
  • Jackals
  • Bears
  • Weasels
  • Mongooses
  • Prairie dogs

Legal Exotic Pets in West Virginia

Here is the list of exotic pets that are legal in West Virginia State:

Legal Exotic Pets in West Virginia
  • Mink
  • Coydogs
  • Wolf dog
  • Racoon
  • Lynx
  • Caracals
  • Servals
  • Savannah Cats
  • Asian Leopard Cats
  • Bengal Cats
  • Bats
  • Kangaroo
  • Fox
  • Monkey

Legal Exotic Pets in Georgia

Here is the list of legal exotic pets in Georgia State:

Legal Exotic Pets in Georgia
  • Capuchin monkey
  • Ferrets
  • American bison
  • Water buffalo
  • Llamas
  • Sugar gliders

Legal Exotic Pets in Washington

You can have some exotic animals in Washington State, there are rules you must follow. Here are a few examples of exotic pets you can legally own there:

Legal Exotic Pets in Washington
  • Wolf dog
  • Kangaroo
  • Frilled lizard
  • Ball python
  • Chipmunk
  • Savannah cat
  • Bobcat
  • Opossums
  • Coyotes
  • Deer
  • Red fox
  • Gray Fox
  • Raccoon

Legal Exotic Pets in Arizona

While some species might need permits or have special rules, there’s a broad range of exotic pets that people can legally have in Arizona:

Legal Exotic Pets in Arizona
  • Wolf dog
  • Monkey
  • Savannah cats
  • Short-tailed possum
  • African crested porcupines
  • Chinchillas
  • Pythons
  • Sugar gliders
  • Capybara
  • Kangaroo
  • Wallabies
  • Domestic water buffalo
  • American bison

Legal Exotic Pets in Massachusetts

The list of some exotic pets that are legal in the State of Massachusetts is as follows:

Legal Exotic Pets in Massachusetts
  • Boas
  • Pythons
  • Anaconda
  • Asian ratsnake
  • Skinks
  • Flash-club tailed lizards
  • Asian grass lizard
  • Gecko
  • Bearded dragons
  • Ferrets
  • Zebus
  • Walking catfish
  • Pancake tortoise
  • Red-eared sliders

Legal Exotic Pets in Mississippi

The list of legal exotic pets in the State of Mississippi is as follows:

Legal Exotic Pets in Mississippi
  • Baboons
  • Orangutans
  • Monkey
  • Chimpanzees
  • Mandrills
  • Wolves
  • Jackals
  • Dingos
  • Hybrid canis
  • Wolverines
  • Hyenas
  • Jaguars
  • Leopards
  • Elephants
  • Rhinoceros

Legal Exotic Pets in Pennsylvania

Here is the list of legal exotic pets in the state of Pennsylvania:

Legal Exotic Pets in Pennsylvania
  • Fox
  • Coyotes
  • Bears
  • Jaguars
  • Cougars
  • Hybrids
  • Timber rattlesnakes
  • Eastern copperheads
  • Kangaroo

Legal Exotic Pets in New Jersey

Legal Exotic Pets in New Jersey
  • Ferrets
  • Kinkajous
  • Coatimundi
  • Wolf dog
  • African gray parrots
  • Macaws
  • Hedgehogs
  • Kangaroo
  • Pythons
  • Geckos
  • Rat snakes
  • Iguanas
  • Zebra
  • Ostrich
  • Bison
  • Leopard frog
  • Salamander

Legal Exotic Pets in Colorado

Legal Exotic Pets in Colorado
  • Snakes
  • Bison
  • Wolf dog
  • Ferret
  • Ostrich
  • Reindeer
  • Elk
  • Red kangaroos
  • Short-tailed possums
  • Sugar gliders

Legal Exotic Pets in Michigan

Legal Exotic Pets in Michigan
  • Wolf dog
  • Bobcats
  • Raccoons
  • Coyotes
  • Badgers
  • Pheasant
  • Possum
  • Mink
  • Salamander
  • Fox
  • Monkey
  • Capybara

Legal Exotic Pets in Illinois

Legal Exotic Pets in Illinois
  • Capuchin monkey
  • Nicaraguan boa constrictor
  • Pythons
  • Anacondas
  • Kangaroo
  • Dart frog

Legal Exotic Pets in Tennessee

Legal Exotic Pets in Tennessee
  • Elephants
  • Rhinoceros
  • Hippopotamus
  • Wolf dog
  • Monkey
  • Bears
  • Crocodiles
  • Alligators
  • Snakes
  • Hippopotamuses
  • Squirrels
  • Ferrets
  • Camels
  • Giraffes
  • Bison
  • Ostrich
  • Bobcat

Legal Exotic Pets in Indiana

Legal Exotic Pets in Indiana
  • Fox
  • Monkey
  • Raccoon
  • Southern flying squirrels
  • Eastern fox squirrels
  • Red foxes
  • Eastern gray squirrels
  • Virginia opossum
  • Eastern cottontail rabbits
  • Black-footed cats
  • Coyotes
  • American beavers
  • Jaguarundi
  • Minks

Legal Exotic Pets in Alabama

Legal Exotic Pets in Alabama
  • Monkey
  • Coydog
  • Servals
  • Savannah cats
  • Asian leopard cats
  • Bengal cat
  • Rhinos
  • Elephants
  • Chimpanzees
  • Gorillas
  • Baboon
  • Siamang
  • Hippos
  • African hunting dog
  • Wolverine
  • African golden cat
  • Wolf dog

Legal Exotic Pets in Utah

Legal Exotic Pets in Utah
  • Alpacas
  • Alligator
  • American bison
  • Ferret
  • Ostrich
  • Peafowl
  • Zebus
  • Fox
  • Wolf dog
  • Desert night lizard
  • Mojave zebra-tailed lizards
  • Utah blind snake
  • Western rattlesnakes

Legal Exotic Pets in Louisiana

Legal Exotic Pets in Louisiana
  • Alligator snapping turtle
  • Razor-backed musk turtles
  • Red salamander
  • Tiger salamander
  • Louisiana pine snakes
  • Black pine snakes
  • Python
  • Anaconda
  • Boa constrictor
  • Cobra

Legal Exotic Pets in Oregon

Legal Exotic Pets in Oregon
  • Monkey
  • Falcons
  • Salamanders
  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Wildebeests
  • Wild boars
  • Fox
  • Hawks
  • Wolf dog
  • Bats
  • Opossum
  • Hares
  • Chipmunks
  • Waterdogs
  • Frogs
  • Japanese mystery snails

Legal Exotic Pets in Maryland

Legal Exotic Pets in Maryland
  • Ferret
  • Red-spotted newt
  • Salamanders
  • Eastern spadefoots
  • Fowler’s toads
  • Northern spring peepers
  • Skinks
  • Eastern wormsnakes
  • Northern black racers
  • Black ratsnakes
  • Six-lined racerunner
  • Queen snake
  • Wood turtle
  • Northern red-bellied cooter
  • Stinkpot

Legal Exotic Pets in Oklahoma

Legal Exotic Pets in Oklahoma
  • Venomous reptiles
  • Fox
  • Wolf dog
  • Kangaroos
  • Snakes
  • Bison
  • Coatamundi
  • Primates
  • Macaws
  • Ostriches
  • Hedgehogs
  • Zebra
  • Emus
  • Peafowl
  • Rheas
  • Monkey
  • Raccoon
  • Vicunas
  • Gila monsters
  • Gerboasies
  • Sugar gliders
  • Beaded lizards

Legal Exotic Pets in Missouri

Legal Exotic Pets in Missouri
  • Monkey
  • Snow leopards
  • Badgers
  • Bobcats
  • Coyotes
  • Gray fox
  • Red fox
  • Virginia opossum
  • River otters
  • Raccoons
  • Minks
  • Muskrats
  • Bison
  • Ocelots
  • Margays
  • Canada lynx
  • Bobcats
  • Poisonous reptiles

Legal Exotic Pets in Minnesota

Legal Exotic Pets in Minnesota
  • Northern leopard frog
  • Sugar gliders
  • Ferrets
  • Monkey
  • Hedgehog
  • Lemurs
  • Orangutans
  • Cougars
  • Raccoon
  • Bearded dragon
  • Chameleon

Legal Exotic Pets in Maine

Legal Exotic Pets in Maine
  • Golden poison frog
  • Rhinoceros iguanas
  • Kangaroo
  • Rock monitors
  • Russian rat snake
  • Pythons
  • Alligator snapping turtle
  • South American coatimundi
  • Mountain coati
  • Savannah cat

Legal Exotic Pets in Montana

Legal Exotic Pets in Montana
  • Wolf dog
  • Wallaroos
  • Cranes
  • Bison
  • Ostrich
  • Rheas
  • Ferret
  • Serval cats
  • Sugar gliders
  • Two-toed sloths
  • Scorpions
  • Python
  • Blind snake
  • Skink
  • Elephant
  • Salamanders
  • Frogs

Legal Exotic Pets in Nevada

Legal Exotic Pets in Nevada
  • California kingsnakes
  • Zebra
  • Yaks
  • Mink
  • Wolf dog
  • Toucans
  • Primates
  • Monkey
  • Elephant
  • American bison
  • European ferrets
  • Ostrich
  • Llamas
  • Peafowl
  • Kangaroo

Legal Exotic Pets in Wisconsin

Legal Exotic Pets in Wisconsin
  • Monkey
  • Fox
  • Arthropod
  • Wolf dog
  • Pocket gopher
  • Mollusk
  • Opossum
  • Raccoon
  • Kangaroo
  • Shrew
  • Weasel
  • Albino stingrays

Legal Exotic Pets in Iowa

Legal Exotic Pets in Iowa
  • Falcon
  • Skunk
  • Wolf dog
  • Bengal cat
  • Savannah cat
  • Raccoon

Legal Exotic Pets in Kentucky

Legal Exotic Pets in Kentucky
  • Wolf dog
  • Ferret
  • Raccoon
  • Alpacas
  • Bison
  • Mink
  • Yak
  • Macaw
  • Peafowl
  • Toucan

Legal Exotic Pets in Connecticut

Legal Exotic Pets in Connecticut
  • Monkey
  • Ferret
  • Hedgehog
  • Sugar glider
  • Savannah cat
  • Bengal cat

Legal Exotic Pets in South Dakota

Legal Exotic Pets in South Dakota
  • Primate
  • Deer
  • Elephant
  • Sambar
  • Urials
  • Auodads
  • Monkey
  • Ursidae

Legal Exotic Pets in North Dakota

Legal Exotic Pets in North Dakota
  • Primate
  • Monkey
  • Deer
  • Zebras
  • Pronghorn
  • Crow
  • Wolverines
  • Bats
  • Otters
  • Mink
  • Fox
  • Opossum
  • Sugar glider
  • Peafowl
  • Wolf dog

Legal Exotic Pets in New Mexico

Legal Exotic Pets in New Mexico
  • Subhuman primate
  • Wolf dog
  • Skunk
  • Raccoon
  • Fox
  • Kangaroo

Legal Exotic Pets in Wyoming

Legal Exotic Pets in Wyoming
  • Bison
  • Ferrets
  • Vicunas
  • Raccoon
  • Red fox
  • Emu
  • Ostrich
  • Yak
  • Coyote
  • Porcupine
  • Skunk
  • Fox
  • Peafowl
  • Jackrabbit
  • Alpacas

Legal Exotic Pets in Vermont

Legal Exotic Pets in Vermont
  • Wolf dog
  • Anaconda
  • Cobra
  • Tegu
  • Crayfish
  • Spiders
  • Hellbender
  • Lizards
  • Python
  • Scorpion
  • Sugar glider
  • Agoutis
  • Salamander

Legal Exotic Pets in New Hampshire

Legal Exotic Pets in New Hampshire
  • Salamander
  • Newt
  • Wolf dog
  • Brown snakes
  • Red-bellied snakes
  • Venomous reptiles
  • Toucan
  • Ostrich
  • Ferret
  • Sugar glider
  • Frogs
  • Yak
  • Bison

Legal Exotic Pets in Kansas

Legal Exotic Pets in Kansas
  • Cougar
  • Bullfrog
  • Armadillo
  • Black bear
  • Grizzly bear
  • Wolf dog
  • Monkey

Legal Exotic Pets in Arkansas

Legal Exotic Pets in Arkansas
  • Apes
  • Baboons
  • Macaques
  • Chameleon
  • Macaw
  • Lizards
  • Iguana
  • Ferrets
  • Peafowl
  • Sugar glider
  • Bobcat
  • Coyote
  • Foxes
  • Opossum
  • Raccoon
  • Wolf hybrid
  • Bearded dragon
  • Python
  • Racoon
  • Venomous reptiles

Legal Exotic Pets in Rhode Island

Legal Exotic Pets in Rhode Island
  • Ferret
  • Raccoon
  • Venomous snakes
  • Anaconda
  • Yak
  • Sugar glider
  • Lizards
  • Chameleon
  • Toucan
  • Fox

Legal Exotic Pets in Delaware

Legal Exotic Pets in Delaware
  • Ferret
  • Possum
  • Sugar glider
  • Fox
  • Monkey
  • Raccoon
  • Asian water dragon
  • Bearded dragon
  • Chameleon
  • Gecko
  • Iguana
  • Skink
  • Tegu

Legal Exotic Pets in Nebraska

Legal Exotic Pets in Nebraska

Legal Exotic Pets in Idaho

Legal Exotic Pets in Idaho
  • Coatimundi
  • Capybara
  • Mink
  • Sugar glider
  • Deer
  • Kinkajou
  • Caracals
  • Margay
  • Ocelot
  • Wolf dog
  • Serval
  • Possum
  • Primate

FAQs

It is illegal to own a lion in all 50 states of the United States.

Sugar gliders, ferrets, salamanders, raccoons, wolfdogs, skinks, bearded dragons, and bobcats are some of the most commonly kept exotic pets.

Yes, but most of the species may require permits or have restrictions.

Yes, some animals may require permit or license while others do not.

Yes, you can buy exotic pets from online sellers.

You can check with state wildlife agencies, animal control departments, or consult legal resources tailored to your state for information regarding exotic pet laws.

Laws regarding crocodiles and alligators as pets are strict and often prohibited in most states.

Breeding and selling exotic pets may require permits or license.

Yes, you can own a capybara in Michigan.

Final Words

Even though it’s legal to own exotic pets, it’s crucial to consider whether you should have one, as they require unique care and have different behaviors compared to traditional pets. It’s also important to think about the potential consequences if your pet escapes or if you can no longer care for it. Exotic pets that escape or are released into the wild often struggle to survive because the environment isn’t suitable for them.

The legality of owning exotic pets varies from state to state and typically requires a license or permit. Before getting an exotic pet, it’s essential to thoroughly research your state’s laws and regulations.

Ideally, exotic pets are best suited to living in their natural habitats.

Recent Articles
Related Articles