Summary of State Laws Relating to Private Possession of Exotic Animals
For a color-coded map of states and regulations, click here.
Note: The animals listed within the below regulations are not a complete list of the animals regulated
by the various states. The listed animals are merely a sampling from each state. Please check the actual regulation for a
complete list of animals covered.
||Type of Regu-
|Summary of Law
||No person, firm, corporation, partnership or association may possess, sell, offer
for sale, import or cause to be brought or imported into the state the following fish or animals: fish from the genus Clarias;
fish from the genus Serrasalmus; Black carp; any species of mongoose, any member of the family Cervidae (deer, elk, moose,
caribou), species of coyote, fox, raccoon, skunk, wild rodents or wild turkey. However, there are no requirements for a person
possessing exotic animals, such as lions, tigers, monkeys, etc.
||ALA. ADMIN CODE
||No person may possess, import, release, export, or assist in importing, releasing,
or exporting, live game animals as "pets." Live game animals are defined as any species of bird, reptile, and mammal, including
a feral domestic animal, found or introduced in the state, except domestic birds and mammals. The Department interprets live
game to include all animals, including exotics, such as wild felines, wolves, bears, monkeys, etc., not listed as domestic
under Alaska Admin. Code tit. 5. §92.029.
||ALASKA ADMIN. CODE
tit. 5. §92.029; ALASKA STAT. §16.05.940|
||Persons possessing restricted wildlife must obtain a wildlife holding permit to
lawfully possess the animal. The Department issues wildlife holding permits to: (1) individuals who legally possess restricted
live wildlife and are moving into the state, (2) for educational display, (3) or advancement of science, and (4) to foster
an animal unable to return to the wild. Persons already residing in Arizona are not permitted to possess restricted live wildlife
as "pets" unless they qualify for a permit. Restricted live wildlife includes, but is not limited to the following species:
all species of Carnivora (canines, felines, excluding domestic); orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas, alligators, crocodiles,
cobras, vipers, etc. However, you can possess all other non-infant primates as "pets" if the animal is free from any zoonotic
||ARIZ. COMP. ADMIN
R. & REGS. R12-4-406; R12-4-409; R12-4-417; R12-4-425; R12-4-426|
||It is unlawful to possess 6 or more bobcat, coyote, deer, gray fox, red fox, opossum,
quail, rabbit, raccoon and squirrel. If a person wishes to possess other animals not originally from the state and not listed
above then the person must show upon request verification that the animal was legally acquired in the previous state. In addition,
possessors of wolves and wolf-dog hybrids must maintain health records, provide adequate care and confinement, and be vaccinated.*
||GFC 18.17, *to be designated.|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess wild animals unless the animal was in possession
prior to January 1992. Wild animals include, but are not limited to the following orders: Primates; Marsupialia; Insectivora
(shrews); Chiroptera (bats); Carnivora (non-domestic dog and cats); Proboscidea (elephants); Perissodactyla (zebras, horses,
rhinos); Reptilia (crocodiles, cobras, coral snakes, pit vipers, snapping turtles, alligators); etc.
||CAL. CODE REGS.
Tit. 14, §671 and §671.1|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess most exotic species unless it is for commercial
purposes. Persons may, however, possess up to 6 live native reptiles, and unregulated wildlife. Unregulated wildlife includes
but is not limited to: sugar gliders, wallabies, wallaroos, kangaroos, etc.
||2 COLO. CODE REGS.
||It is unlawful for persons to possess potentially dangerous animals unless the animal
was in possession prior to May 23, 1983. Potentially dangerous animals include: the Felidae family (lion, leopard, cheetah,
jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi cat, puma, lynx, and bobcat); the Canidae family (wolf and coyote); the Ursidae family (black bear,
grizzly bear, and brown bear); and venomous reptiles, alligators, crocodiles. However, there are no state requirements for
a person possessing non-human primates.
||CONN. GEN. STAT.
||All persons must obtain a permit before they can possess a live wild mammal or hybrid
of a wild animal. It is illegal to possess, sell, or exhibit any poisonous snake not native to or generally found in Delaware.
||DEL. CODE ANN
tit. 3, §7201, §7202, and §7203|
||B* & L
||It is unlawful for a person to possess any Class I Wildlife unless the animal was
in possession prior to August 1, 1980. Class I Wildlife includes, but is not limited to the following: chimpanzees, gorillas,
orangutans, baboons, leopards, jaguars, tigers, lions, bears, elephants, crocodiles, etc. Persons may possess Class II Wildlife
if he or she obtains a permit from the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Class II Wildlife includes, but is not
limited to the following: howler and guereza monkeys, macaques, cougars, bobcats, cheetahs, ocelots, servals, coyotes, wolves,
hyenas, alligators, etc. All other wildlife in personal possession not defined as Class I or II Wildlife must obtain a no-cost
permit. In addition, FL has promulgated regulations governing possession of Class II and III animals (caging requirements,
||FLA. ADMIN. CODE
ANN. r. §68A-6.002, §68A-6.0021, and §68A-6.0022|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess inherently dangerous animals as "pets." Inherently
dangerous animals include, but are not limited to the following orders: Marsupialia (kangaroos); Primates (chimpanzees, gorillas,
macaques); Carnivora (canines, felines); Proboscidae (elephants); Crocodylia (crocodiles, alligators, cobras, all poisonous
rear-fanged species). Only persons engaged in the wholesale or retail wild animal business or persons exhibiting wild animals
to the public will be issued a license to possess inherently dangerous animals.
||GA. CODE ANN.
§27-5-4 and §27-5-5|
||It is unlawful for persons to introduce exotic animals for private use into Hawaii.
Exotic animals include, but are not limited to: Non-Human Primates, Felidae family (lion, leopard, cheetah,); the Canidae
family (wolf and coyote); and the Ursidae family (black bear, grizzly bear, and brown bear), etc.
||HAW. ADMIN. RULES
§4-71-5, §4-71-6, §4-71-6.1, and §4-71-6.5|
||All species of mammals, birds, or reptiles that are found in the wild and are not
species of special concern may be held in captivity without a permit so long as the possessor retains proof that the animal
was lawfully obtained. In addition, before bringing an animal into the state an owner must obtain an import permit and comply
with specific caging requirements for the animal.
||IDAHO CODE §36-701|
||No person may harbor, care for, act as a custodian, or maintain in his possession
any dangerous animal except at a properly maintained zoological park, federally licensed exhibit, circus, scientific or educational
institution, research laboratory, veterinary hospital or animal refuge. "Dangerous animal" means a lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot,
jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, lynx, bobcat, jaguarundi, bear, hyena, wolf, coyote, or any poisonous life-threatening
reptile. However, there are no state requirements for a person possessing non-human primates and other exotic species not
defined as "dangerous animals."
||ILL. REV STAT,
ch. 720, para. 585/0.1, 585/1, 585/2, and 585/3|
||All persons who possess a dangerous exotic animal must obtain a permit for each
animal they possess. Dangerous exotic animal includes the following animals: lions, tigers, jaguars, cougars, panthers, cheetahs,
wolves, coyotes, jackals, hyenas, bears, venomous reptiles, alligators, crocodiles, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, Burmese
pythons, reticulated pythons, green and yellow anacondas, etc. However, there are no state requirements for private possession
||IND. CODE §14-22-26-1 through §14-22-26-11.
*not on file|
||There are no state laws governing private possession of exotic animals.
||N & L
||Exotic wildlife species can be possessed without a license, provided that the exotic
wildlife was legally captured, raised, exported, possessed, sold, or purchased or any combination in its place of origin.
Exotic wildlife includes those wildlife species which are non-migratory and are not native or indigenous to Kansas, or do
not presently exist in Kansas as an established wild population. However, any person possessing a mountain lion, wolf, black
bear, or grizzly bear must obtain a license or a permit.
||KAN. ADMIN. REGS.
115-20-3 and 115-20-4|
||A person may possess an exotic animal without obtaining a license. Exotic animals
are terrestrial wildlife species which have never existed in the wild in Kentucky or been extirpated from the state and could
not be reasonably expected to survive in the wild if introduced.
||301 KY. ADMIN. REGS.
||No person may possess any of the following species or its subspecies of live wild
quadrupeds, domesticated or otherwise: cougar or mountain lion; black bear; grizzly bear; polar bear; red wolf; gray wolf;
and wolf-dog hybrids. However, any native animals to North America, except wolves and cougars, may be kept with a permit.
And any non-native animals to North America, such as lions, tigers, non-human primates, etc, may be possessed without a permit.
||LA. ADMIN. CODE
tit. 76, §115|
||A person may possess a wild animal after obtaining a permit.
||ME. REV. STAT.
ANN. tit. 12 § 7235-A|
||A person may not import as a household "pet" any live: fox, skunk, raccoon, bear,
alligator, crocodile, member of the cat family other than domestic cat, or any poisonous snakes in the family groups of Hydrophidae,
Elapidae, Viperidae, or Crotolidae. In addition, a person may not harbor within Maryland any live raccoons, skunks, foxes,
wolves, coyotes, bobcats, or any other mammalian wildlife species, or hybrids, for which there is no USDA certified vaccine
against rabies, without first obtaining a permit. However, there are no state requirements for private possession of non-human
||MD. CODE ANN.,
NAT. RES. §70D and MD. REGS. CODE tit. 08.03.09, §03 |
||No person may possess as a "pet" a wild bird, mammal, fish, reptile or amphibian
unless the animal was owned prior to June 30, 1995. A wild bird, mammal, fish, reptile or amphibian is defined as any undomesticated
animal that is not the product of hybridization with a domestic form and not otherwise contained in the exemption list.
||MASS. REGS. CODE
tit. 321, §2.12 and §9.01; and MASS. GEN. LAWS ANN.
ch. 131, §77A|
||B* & N
||No person may possess as a "pet" any member of the Felidae family (large cats),
including their hybrids, any bear species, and any wolf-hybrid unless the animal was possessed prior to July 7, 2000. A prior
entry permit must be obtained from the director for all other wild animal or exotic animal species not listed above or regulated
by the fish and wildlife service of the United States Department of Interior or the Department of Natural Resources of this
state. Prior to an exotic animal entering the state the Department of Natural Resources may require the possessor to have
the animal examined by an accredited veterinarian to determine the health status, proper housing, husbandry and confinement
standards are being met.
||MICH. COMP. LAWS
§287.731, MICH. COMP. LAWS §287.1001-1023, MICH. COMP. LAWS §287.1101-1123|
||It is unlawful for a person to possess a regulated animal. A regulated animal is
defined as all members of the felidae family (except domestic cats); all bears; and all non-human primates. A person who possesses
a regulated animal on the effective date of the law, January 1, 2005, has 90 days to register the animal with the local animal
control authority. Persons possessing a registered regulated animal may replace the regulated animal if he/she dies, but may
replace he/she only once.
||MINN. STAT. 346.155§84D.04, §84D.05, §84D.06, and §84D.07; Minn. R. §6216.0250, §6216.0260, §6216.0265, and §6216.0270; (additional citations
for newly enacted law soon)|
||It is unlawful for a person to import or possess any wild animal classified inherently
dangerous by law or regulation unless that person holds a permit or is exempted from holding a permit. Inherently dangerous
animals include, but are not limited to the following animals: orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas, macaques, mandrills, baboons,
wolves, bears, hyenas, lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, elephants, etc. However, there are no state requirements for private
possession of small non-domesticated felines such as ocelots, servals, etc.
||MISS. CODE ANN.
§49-8-5 and §49-8-7|
||A person may not keep a lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain
lion, Canada lynx, bobcat, jaguarundi, hyena, wolf, coyote, or any deadly dangerous, or poisonous reptile unless such person
has registered the animal with the local law enforcement agency in the county in which the animal is kept.
||MO. REV. STAT.
||L & N
||A person may not operate a wild animal menagerie without obtaining a permit. A "wild
animal menagerie" means any place where one or more bears or large cats, including cougars, lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards,
pumas, cheetahs, ocelots, and hybrids of those large cats are kept in captivity for use other than public exhibition. All
other exotic animals entering the state, such as reptiles, monkeys, etc., must be accompanied by a one-time entry permit and
an official health certificate.
||MONT. CODE ANN.
87-4-801, 87-4-803, and 87-4-804; MONT. ADMIN. R. §32.3.202|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess any wolf, skunk, or any member of the Felidae
(cats, except domesticated) and Ursidae (bear) families unless the animal was in possession prior to March 1, 1986. However,
there are no state requirements for non-human primates and reptiles.
||NEB. REV. STAT.
||Specific animals, set forth in NEV. ADMIN.
CODE ch. 503, §110 are prohibited from private ownership except if the animal was in possession prior
to February 28, 1994. Examples of animals listed under §110 are the following: alligators, crocodiles, coyotes, foxes, raccoons,
etc. However, other exotic animals may be possessed without a permit or license. Examples of these exotic animals are: monkeys
and other Primates, Marsupials, elephants, felines, wolves, etc.
||NEV. ADMIN. CODE
ch. 503, §110; ch. 503, §140; ch. 504, §488.|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess exotic animals, such as felines, bears, wolves,
poisonous reptiles, and non-human primates, unless they are exhibitors. However, there are certain noncontrolled animals that
may be privately possessed within the state without a license. Noncontrolled animals include, but are not limited to: sugar
gliders, non-venomous reptiles, ferrets, etc.
||N.H. REV. STATE ANN.
§207:14 and N.H. CODE ADMIN. R Fis §802.01, §804.01, §804.02, §804.03, §804.04, §804.05, Table 800.02|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess a potentially dangerous species as a "pet."
Potentially dangerous species include the following orders: Primates; Carnivora (nondomestic dogs and cats, bears); Saura
(venomous gila monsters); Serpentes (venomous coral snakes, cobras, vipers, pit vipers); Crocodilia (alligators, crocodiles,
gavials); Psittaciformes (ring-necked and monk parakeets); and Rodentia (prairie dogs, ground squirrels). Zoos and other exhibitors
may possess these animals upon showing that specific criteria have been met, such as extensive experience in handling and
caring for the animal.
||N.J. ADMIN. CODE tit. 7, §25-4.8 and §25-4.9|
||It is unlawful for a person to possess non-domesticated felines, primates, crocodiles, alligators, and
||Policy Statement by the Department of Game & Fish.|
||No person may keep wildlife unless they have received a permit. Wildlife includes,
but is not limited to, the following animals: wolves, wolfdogs, coyotes, coydogs, foxes, skunks, venomous reptiles or raccoons,
endangered species, leopards, tigers, lions, cheetahs, ocelots, margays, alligators, etc.
||N.Y. ENVTL. CONSERV. §11-0511, §11-0536, and §11-0917; N.Y. AGRIC. & MKTS. §370.|
||A county or city may by ordinance regulate, restrict, or prohibit the possession
of dangerous animals. In addition, an entry permit from the State Veterinarian is required before importing into the state
a skunk, fox, raccoon, ringtail, bobcat, North and South American felines, coyote marten, and brushtail possum.
||N.C. SESS. LAWS §153A-131 and §160A-187; N.C. ADMIN. CODE tit. 2, r. 52B.0212|
||Category 3, 4, or 5 of nontraditional livestock may be possessed in the state after
obtaining an import permit; a nontraditional livestock license; a certificate from a veterinarian. Category 4 is those species
that are considered inherently dangerous, including bears, wolves, wolf hybrids, primates, all non-domesticated cats except
Canadian lynx, and bobcat.
||N.D. ADMIN. CODE §48-12-01-02 and §48-12-01-03|
||No person may bring into the state a non-domestic animal unless the possessor: obtains
an entry permit; health certificate certifying the animal is free of infectious diseases; and a certificate of veterinary
inspection. Persons in the state possessing non-domestic animals do not need to obtain a permit.
||OHIO ADMIN. CODE
||No person may possess or raise wildlife for commercial purposes without having first
obtained a permit. Regardless to whether the possession is actually for "commercial purposes," all persons owning these animals
as "pets" must obtain this particular permit.
||OKLA. STAT. Tit. 29, §4-107|
||No person may keep an exotic animal unless, before acquiring the animal, the person
possesses, or has applied for and not been refused or have been revoked or suspended, a valid permit from the State Department
of Agriculture. Exotic animal is defined as any lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, ocelot, monkey, ape, gorilla, or other non-human
primate, wolf or canine not indigenous to Oregon, and bear (except black bear).
||OR. REV. STAT.
§609.305 and §609.319|
||No person may keep exotic wildlife without first receiving a permit from the wildlife
commission. Exotic wildlife includes, but is not limited to all bears, coyotes, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs,
cougars, wolves, and any crossbreed of these animals, which have similar characteristics in appearance or features. However,
there are no state requirements for a person possessing non-human primates and reptiles.
||34 PA. CONS. STAT.
ANN. §2961 and §2963|
||No person may possess, without first obtaining a permit from the department, animals
of the following orders, families, and genera: Primates, Carnivores, Amphibia, Reptilia, Canidae, and Insecta. All person
obtaining a permit must demonstrate they have both adequate facilities, and adequate knowledge of animal health and husbandry
to ensure both public safety and health.
||R.I. GEN. LAWS §4-18-3; 1994 R.I. PUB. LAWS 12 020 030|
||It is unlawful to possess wolves or coyotes within the state. It is also unlawful
to possess wildlife indigenous to the state without a permit. Specifically, one can not possess members of the Cervidae, Suidae,
Tayassuidae (peccaries), Bovidae (bison, mountain goat, mountain sheep), nor can they possess coyotes, bears, turkeys, and
furbearers. However, there are no state laws governing the possession of non-domesticated felines, primates, reptiles, and
other wildlife not listed above.
||S.C. CODE REGS. §50-11-1765 and §50-16-20|
||A permit is required to possess any non-domestic mammal, or any hybrids thereof
of the following orders: Carnivora (Felidae -- non-domestic, Canidae -- non-domestic, Ursidae -- bears, Mustelidae, and Hyaenidae);
Artiodactyla (hoofed animals); Perissodactyla (Tapiridae and Rhinocerotidae). In addition, all animals (including those listed
above and non-human primates and reptiles) must be examined by a veterinarian and be free of any contagious, infectious, epidemic,
or communicable disease. No person may possess non-domestic pigs or raccoon dogs.
||S.D. ADMIN. R. 12:68:18:03 and 12:68:18:03.01; and S.D. CODIFIED LAWS ANN. 40-14-2|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess Class I wildlife unless they were in possession
of the animal(s) prior to June 25, 1991. Class I wildlife includes the following orders: Primates (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees,
gibbons, siamangs, mandrills, drills, baboons, Gelada baboons only); Carnivores (all wolves, all bears, lions, tigers, leopards,
jaguars, cheetahs, cougars); Proboscidia (all elephants); Perissodactyla (all rhinoceroses); Artiodactyla (all hippos and
African buffalos); Crocodylia (crocodiles and alligators); Serpentes (all poisonous snakes); and Amphibians (all poisonous
species). However, the state does not regulate private possession of species not listed above, such as monkeys and small non
domesticated cats (ocelots, servals, etc.).
||TENN. CODE ANN
§70-4-401, §70-4-403, and §70-4-404|
||No person may possess a dangerous wild animal without first obtaining a license
(certificate of registration). Dangerous wild animals are defined as lions, tigers, ocelots, cougars, leopards, cheetahs,
jaguars, bobcats, lynxes, servals, caracals, hyenas, bears, coyotes, jackals, baboons, chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas,
or any hybrids of the animals listed. However, there are no requirements for a person possessing all other animal not listed
above, such as monkeys, wolves etc.
||TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY
CODE ANN. § 822.101-116; TEX. LOC. GOV'T CODE
ANN. § 240.002(a) and § 240.0025|
||A person may not possess live zoological animals that are classified as prohibited.
Prohibited animals include, but are not limited to, the following families: Ursidae (bears), Canidae (all species), Felidae
(all species except non-domesticated cats), Mustelidae (all species), Non-human primates, and certain species of reptiles,
etc. However, in rare circumstances a person may possess these animals as a "pet" if the person obtains a certificate
of registration from the Wildlife Board. Generally, exhibitors and educational and scientific facilities only obtain these
registrations. A certificate of registration is not required for non-controlled species which alligators and crocodiles fall
||UTAH ADMIN. R. 657-3-17, R. 657-3-24, R. 657-3-25, and R. 657-3-27|
||It is unlawful for persons to possess exotic animals, such as large felines, bears,
wolves, poisonous reptiles, and non-human primates as "pets." Persons may possess exotic animals for exhibition and educational
purposes if they obtain a permit. Please note that the state statute says a person may not bring into the state or possess
an exotic animal unless they obtain a permit. However, no personal possession permits for "pets" are issued to individuals.
||VT. STAT. ANN.
Tit. 10, §4709|
||No person may possess nonnative exotic animals that are classed as predatory or
undesirable as a "pet." Nonnative exotic animals include, but are not limited to: bears, wolves, coyotes, weasels, badgers,
hyenas, all species of non-domesticated cats, alligators, and crocodiles. Persons may possess these animals if they are a
licensed exhibitor, i.e. commercial, educational or scientific uses. However, there are no state requirements for a person
possessing non-human primates.
||4 VAC 15-30-10; 15-30-40|
||The state does not require persons possessing exotic animals to obtain a permit.
This is governed by city or county regulations. However, the state does require all exotic animals entering the state to obtain
a health certificate.
||WASH. ADMIN. CODE
||The state only regulates native species to the state. A person possessing a native
animal in captivity as a "pet" must obtain a permit. However, there are no state laws governing private possession of exotic
||W. VA. CODE § 20-2-51|
||There are no state laws governing private possession of exotic animals.
||It is unlawful for persons to possess big or trophy game animals. Big game is defined
as antelope, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose or mountain goat. Trophy game is defined as black bear, grizzly bear or mountain
lion. According to WY Fish and Game, it is unlawful to possess all other exotic animals such as, tigers, lions, primates,
wolves, bears, etc.
||WYO. STAT. §23-1-101 and §23-1-103; WYO. REG. Chapter 10, §5|
B = Ban on private ownership of exotic animals -- non-domesticated felines, wolves, bears, reptiles,
B* = Partial ban on private ownership of exotic animals -- allows ownership of some exotic animals
but precludes ownership of the animals listed
L = Requires the "owner" of the exotic animal to obtain a license or permit or to register the animal
with state or local authorities to privately possess the animal (excludes states only requiring import permits)
N = The state does not require the "owner" to obtain a license or permit to possess the animal within
the state, but may regulate some aspect thereof (i.e. entry permit, veterinary certificate, etc.)
O = No statute or regulation governing this issue
For a color-coded map of states and regulations, click here.