10 Animals That Were Banned As Pets In The US (And Why)

Wildlife is meant to be in the wild and not in our homes. It is harmful to them, the environment, and us.
Wildlife is meant to be in the wild and not in our homes. It is harmful to them, the environment, and us.
  • There are more tigers living as pets in the US than there are in the wild across the entire globe.
  • Sugar gliders are native to Australia and New Guinea.
  • Hedgehogs can be invasive species when released into the wild.

Having a pet that no one else does, can make you feel unique and perhaps somewhat brave. Depending on your choice of companion, however, and where you live, it may be legal to have it, or it may not. 

It can be surprising to learn which pets besides dogs, cats, gerbils, and hamsters, are actually permitted in the US.  

Have you always wanted a tiger in your backyard, or maybe an alligator in your pond? Many people may call you crazy, but some people actually do it. It is good to know the rules, however, before diving in and making a purchase. 

Here are ten animals that are allowed in some states, but banned in others. Check it out.

10. Bats

Bats can make cute pets but it is best to leave them in their wild natural habitat. Image credit: Вых Пыхманн/Wikimedia.org

Tired of the COVID 19 coronavirus outbreak? It is a good idea then, to avoid having a bat as a pet. 

Bats are known to carry many so-called zootonic viruses, and COVID 19, SARS, and MERS are just a few examples. These illnesses are ones that have jumped from bats to humans, and you want to avoid them as they are often potentially fatal. 

Bats can also carry rabies and histoplasmosis causing pathogens, a type of lung infection. Because of these obvious dangers, bats are not allowed as pets in the US.

9. Big Cats

Tigers are meant to be apex predators with massive territories in their natural homes. Keeping them in confined spaces is cruelty. Image credit: Bats can make cute pets but it is best to leave them in their wild natural habitat. Image credit: MichaelJanich/Wikimedia.org

It may come as a shock, but it is true. More tigers are kept as pets in the US than they exist in the wild. There are an estimated 3,000 tigers living in the wild on Earth, and about 5,000 lounging about as pets in America. One of the main reasons people have tigers as pets is that it is legal to have your photo taken with a large cat in the country, as so they can sometimes generate income for their owners. 

The thing is, owning a big cat is not legal in all states. Twenty-one states have banned the practice, as large cats are obviously dangerous to have at home. The ban extends to “dangerous and exotic pets.” 

Only five US states will allow you to raise your own pet lion if you please without a permit, including Wisconsin, Nevada, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina. 

You can also raise your big cat in Pennsylvania, Montana and Texas but you will need a permit. 

8. Hedgehogs

Pet desert hedgehog from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, at lunchtime. They are invasive species in countries like the US. Better to keep them in their native habitats. Image credit: Levi Clancy/Wikimedia.org

These creatures are oh-so-cute but you can not raise them just anywhere you please. 

The practice is banned in California, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Georgia, as well as in Washington D.C. Part of the concern officials have is that if you decide to not raise your hedgehog and you dump it in a nearby forest to survive on its own in the wild, in the places mentioned you would likely be introducing a non-native and possibly invasive species into the woods. This could be good for you, but bad for the environment.

7. Skunks

Scent glands are usually removed from skunks to take them as pets and avoid their stink. However, it is always best to animals as nature created them. Image credit: Gary J. Wood/Wikimedia.org

Some people like to have these stinky critters as pets but they need some altering before being taken home.Pet owners usually have the scents glands removed from the skunk when it is about one month old, and this practice is seen as inhumane by some. 

The states in which you can legally own a skunk include Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The practice is banned in all others. 

6. Alligators

Alligators are also wildlife that is best avoided at home. Image credit: Mfield, Matthew Field/Wikimedia.org

It is hard to imagine an alligator making a nice cozy pet, but everyone has their preferences. Just as with big cats, if you are adventuresome enough, you are free to legally own an alligator as a pet in Alabama, Nevada, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. 

Presumably alligators are banned as pets in other states due to their dangerous bite. 

You can own one in Florida but you will need to have a license and permit to do so.

5. Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders might be adorable, but they do not belong to you but to nature where they must be left. Image credit: Wm Jas/Wikimedia.org

What is a sugar glider, to begin with? A sugar glider is a small marsupial, (think tiny mouse-like kangaroo), that you can fit in your pocket. They are classified as exotic animals in the US and are native to Australia and New Guinea.  

Because too many sugar gliders are being taken from the wild and domesticated, you can have one as a pet in many states but it is illegal to own one in Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania as well as in certain cities such as New York.

4. Slow Lorises

Slow lorises have their front teeth cut or pulled before being sold as pets, a practice that often causes infection and death. Image credit: International Animal Rescue (IAR)/Wikimedia.org

This small, beautiful monkey-like animal with eyes as big as a stuffed toy is in serious danger of becoming extinct around the globe. That coupled with the fact that it is nocturnal and has a venomous bite that is potentially deadly to humans has resulted in slow lorises being banned as pets in many places around the world. 

Most slow lorises are captured directly from the wild from Northeast India and South Asia, and so having one as a pet is rather unethical. It is illegal to export them from their home countries. You would  be participating in animal trafficking if you were to acquire one.

3. Monkeys

Baby monkeys are often taken away forcibly from their mothers for the pet trade. Image credit: Photo by Amol Mande from Pexels

Surprisingly, many states in the country allow you to have a monkey as a pet. Is it the best idea? It depends on the conditions in which you raise them. 

Raising a monkey is very demanding vets say, as they tend to pee on any surface,  they require a large outdoor expanse in order to get enough exercise and light, and they eat a large, varied diet which makes it difficult for owners to keep them healthy. 

For these reasons, having one as a pet is banned in many places.  

In the US these include Washington State, Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

2. Foxes

Foxes are wild at heart and it is best that they be kept that way in nature. Image credit: Skeeze from Pixabay.

Smart as a whip and cute, foxes may make great pets for some, but they are still a wild animal at heart. Is it right to domesticate them? Authorities in many places say, no. 

According to ExoticAnimalsForSale.Net, you can only own one legally in Missouri, Florida, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming and Tennessee.

1. Ferrets

Ferrets are also not safest options as pets. Image credit: Skeeze from Pixabay.

In some areas, ferrets are a rather common household pet. In others, they are prohibited. Why? Ferrets can carry rabies and they tend to bite. Another reason the have been banned is that they can become invasive species when owners grow tired of all that biting and their pet is released into the wild. 

Ferrets are banned in California, Hawaii, Washington DC, New York City,


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