Today more and more people are choosing exotic animals as their house pets. You never know what might be living next door to you. If an exotic pet is on your list of wants, check the local laws to see if they are permitted where you live.

What is an Exotic Pet?

The word “exotic” conjures up visions of brightly colored plumage and dark fur. But, an exotic pet doesn’t have to come from foreign climes or thick jungles to be considered for this category. Many states classify exotic pets as any animal that is not indigenous to a particular area. Also, it can include any animal that doesn’t migrate through that particular area as well. For other states, exotic pets are simply considered as any animal that is dangerous and could prove vicious to the community it is being introduced to.

There are few federal laws governing the ownership of certain pets. Federal law does prohibit the sale and transport of large wild cats over state lines. Any animal coming into the country is required by law to be quarantined and tested for at least 30 days. It is also illegal to own any animal as a pet that is on the endangered species list.

Usually states decide themselves how they will deal with the idea of exotic pets. Exceptions are made for facilities such as zoos and wildlife preserves.

veiled chameleon on a tree branch
Image Credit: brasssun, Pixabay

What are the laws in your state?

A word of warning: Laws do differ greatly from state to state as you are about to see below. If you ever plan to relocate, make sure that your wildly fanciful pet is allowed in your new location. Also familiarize yourself with the laws in your current state before spending the money to purchase such a pet.

Since there are 50 states, all won’t be mentioned here. But, a fair sampling of some of the more stringent and the more extreme laws will be examined.

1. Alaska

Let’s start at the top of the world. The majority of this state is not inhabited, but is open land. This may be one reason why the laws here are quite liberal. Here, you are allowed to privately own llamas, sheep, elk, caribou, reindeer and even chimpanzees. If you lose your animal, you have about 48 hours to find it.

2. Florida

Animals are placed into classifications here. Class I animals are not allowed for private ownership: crocodiles, big cats, rhinos, elephants and even lions, tigers and bears (oh my!). You are allowed to own Class II animals with a special permit: bobcats, wolves, alligators and howler monkeys.

Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake
Image Credit: Ryan M. Bolton, Shutterstock

3. California

Most exotic pets are banned here because of the density of the population. Any non-domesticated animal is included on this list, including many species of snake, large reptiles and even snapping turtles. Unless you own a cat, dog or small bird, nothing else is getting through.

4. Texas

We are about to swing to the more liberal side again. In the Lone Star state it is permitted to own (with a permit) many animals considered dangerous elsewhere: big cats, large primates, wild dogs and bears. You can also own a monkey without a license.

    You might be surprised what exotic pets you are allowed to have in your area, so make sure to check it out!

    Jasmine Hinesley is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

    Featured Image Credit: Anastasia Mezenina, Unsplash