These 11 pets are illegal in some states


Some states prohibit owning certain animals as pets.

Nearly seven in ten US households own at least one pet, according to the 2020 National Pet Ownership Survey. Dogs are the most popular, followed by cats and freshwater fish. But the rules for owning exotic non-native animals are often much stricter.

Below, News week has listed 15 pets that are illegal in some states.

Other states and cities – and other animals – not listed may have restrictions or require a permit to keep one.

Bearded dragons

Bearded dragons are accepted as pets in many parts of the world.
Getty Images

Native to Australia, bearded dragons are easy to care for and are legally accepted as pets in many parts of the world.

In the United States, the majority of states require owners of bearded dragons to have a pet license. In Hawaii, however, it is illegal to buy or sell a bearded dragon under legislation designed to protect the native ecosystem.

Bengal cats

One of the most popular cat breeds in the world
Kech / Getty Images

Intelligent and playful, the Bengal cat is one of the most popular cat breeds in the world, a hybrid created from a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat.

They can be kept as pets in most US states as long as they are less than five generations separated from their Asian leopard ancestors.

They cannot be kept as pets in Hawaii, Connecticut, Hawaii and Seattle, as well as New York.


A popular exotic pet for many families, keeping them as pets is prohibited in California and Hawaii, as well as in cities like New York and Washington DC.

There are concerns about ferrets biting people as they can spread rabies, while they are also seen as a threat to local wildlife.


Native to Central Asia, mainly Mongolia, gerbils are not considered exotic as they were domesticated decades ago and are no longer imported from overseas.

However, in California and Hawaii, you cannot own a gerbil as a pet. Hawaii has a unique ecosystem and California has a similar environment to gerbils, so if they escape into the wild, there is concern that they pose a threat to wildlife.


Your cute and furry friend will not be welcome in Hawaii

One of the most popular pets, your cute, furry friend will not be welcome in Hawaii. It is the state with the most restrictive pet laws in the country.

Much like gerbils, if they escape into the wild, they could pose a threat to Hawaii’s native ecosystem.


A hedgehog is seen at the San Francisco Zoo. Small animals are very quiet and low maintenance pets.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

They are banned as pets in a handful of US states, including Georgia, California, Hawaii, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Bans also exist in Washington, DC and the five boroughs of New York.

Hedgehogs can carry diseases and bacteria such as salmonella, and they pose a potential threat to the ecosystems native to these places.

Monk parakeets

A monk parakeet in flight.
A monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) also known as the quaker parrot flies in Madrid’s Atena Park on September 15, 2016. The monk parakeet, as an invasive species, has become a problem for local wildlife such as pigeons and sparrows.
GERARD JULIEN / AFP / Getty Images

Native to South America, these green parrots with an orange and blue bill on the tail and the tips of the feathers, are considered an agricultural pest by the authorities of some states.

In California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wyoming, it is illegal to sell or own one.


Having a primate as a pet is controversial. Monkeys need a lot of daily exercise in large outdoor spaces and a varied and healthy diet.

Some states require a property permit, others do not allow the holding of certain species, and several have complete bans.

Places with outright bans include: Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Washington DC, State of Washington, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Red-bellied piranha

Red-bellied piranhas swimming in their tank. It is the most common species of piranha in the pet trade. Despite common beliefs, piranhas are not just carnivores as they also eat plants and anything they can find.
Oli Scarf / Getty Images

It is the most common species of piranha in the pet trade and very popular as an aquarium fish.

Keeping them as pets is prohibited in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, New York or Washington

Sugar gliders

Sugar gliders are illegal as pets in some states, so always check with local authorities before bringing one into your home.
REUTERS / Tim Chong

Pocket possums are native to the forests of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

It’s not legal keep sugar gliders as pets in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and some cities, like New York, St. Paul, or Salt Lake City


The red-eared slider is the most common pet turtle in the United States, but they are now considered one of the 100 most invasive species and are banned in Oregon and Florida.

Turtles can carry salmonella and the United States have prohibited the sale or distribution of all turtles with a shell less than 4 inches in length since 1975. North Carolina and South Dakota have prohibited the sale of all turtles, regardless of their size. cut.

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