List of Banned Animals (Illegal To Own in The US)

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: November 29, 2022
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Living on the wild side makes life more exciting. Most individuals perceive that as going on daring vacations or refusing to accept the status quo, not necessarily picking out an unusual pet. However, you might be enticed to start raising a boa constrictor, a large cat, or even an unusual rodent if the domestic cat or dog isn’t entertaining enough for you.

The internet is full of exotic pets, including tigers, parrots, and turtles. They appear cute, colorful, or strange, but owning them might be against the law. Knowledge of the laws that govern wildlife in the United States is important to own exotic animals. However, laws differ greatly from state to state but are all intended to safeguard the public’s well-being and safety from animals deemed dangerous by nature. Therefore, which animals are illegal to own in the US? This article uncovers seven banned animals in the United States and other interesting facts.

1. Hedgehogs

What Eats Snakes

The quills on the back of the hedgehog are made from keratin.


Despite how cute and entertaining they can be, only a few places allow people to keep hedgehogs as pets: New York City, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Douglas County, Nebraska. When disturbed, their prickly spines can become sharp and hurt both people and other animals.

Hedgehogs only emerge at night. As a result, if you own one, you will be unable to sleep at night due to their noise. They curl up into a tight ball when they are anxious. If you attempt to uncurl them, you may injure yourself. Additionally, hedgehogs are susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease.

2. Ferrets

Champagne ferret

Owning a pet ferret in Hawaii may get you in jail for three years.

©Julie Gaia/

You’ve likely noticed ferrets in almost all of the pet stores you’ve visited, except if the pet store in question was located in New York City, Hawaii, Washington, DC, or California. Their potential to alter the ecosystem if released or lost in the wild is the primary basis for their prohibition. Given that ferrets are expert escape artists, this fear might not be unwarranted.

Ferrets frequently bite when they sense danger and also bite to draw attention to themselves. Regrettably, ferrets can occasionally carry rabies, and Hawaii is the only state free of the disease. Owning a pet ferret in Hawaii may include getting you in jail for three years and a heavy fine of up to $200,000. Ferrets could effortlessly breed on their own; they do best in climates like those in California and Hawaii.

Additionally, they require regular maintenance to avoid developing a pungent, musky odor that many people find repulsive.

3. Monkeys

Blue monkey sitting on a tree branch.

Some states, like California, have a complete ban on keeping monkeys as pets.


There are 19 states where it is unlawful to own a monkey, including Colorado, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wyoming, and Vermont. Some states, like California, have a complete ban on keeping monkeys as pets.

Monkeys are adorable and, in certain ways, resemble small people, but that’s also one of the reasons they’re difficult to care for as pets. According to the Primate Rescue Center, several monkeys can stay alive for up to 40 years and need constant care and attention, and that entails four decades of diaper use and aggressive actions like biting and feces-throwing. However, that hasn’t stopped Americans from keeping exotic pets like roguish capuchin monkeys (like Ross did on “Friends”) and high-maintenance chimpanzees (like Bubbles, owned by Michael Jackson).

4. Sugar Gliders

Sugar Glider

Sugar gliders have a lifespan of 15 years.

©Manop Boonpeng/

If you’d like to have one of these cute critters, you might have to relocate if you currently reside in New York City, Alaska, Hawaii, or California. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are a little more tolerant and permit ownership. If you live somewhere where owning a sugar glider is an option, be aware that they will likely live a long time; some can even live for up to 15 years. Finding food and nectar that adhere to these gliders’ strict diet can be difficult because keeping them as pets is not widely accepted.

5. Bengal Tigers

Bengal tiger laying in brush

The Bengal tiger is the most well-known tiger.


Big cats like tigers and lions are not permitted as pets for obvious reasons. Bengal cats, like monkeys, are also prohibited in at least 19 states.

The Bengal tiger’s gene flow in the wild is reduced due to capture and breeding with domestic cats, decreasing the species’ chances of survival. In the wild, Bengals normally live for 15 years, whereas in captivity, they can live for 20 to 25 years. However, most Bengal cats are bred in catteries, where they receive little care. Several individuals have behavioral and health issues that make it difficult to tame them.

6. Chausies


Chausies are very anti-social.


Having a Chausie is also prohibited in at least 19 states. Domestic cats and jungle cats were crossed to produce these hybrid cats. They are always active and roughly twice the size of a typical house cat.

A wild creature for thousands of years cannot be bred to have domestic traits. These cats seem to be very hostile, according to many owners. Several people also claim that their cats won’t use the litter box. Chausies are very anti-social because wild cats are, by nature, solitary.

Although routine catwalks and other types of physical activity may be time-consuming, they are necessary to prevent destructive behavior in these cats.

7. Turtles

Ornate box turtles are a subspecies of the western box turtle

Ornate box turtles are a subspecies of the western box turtle.

©Steve Byland/

North Dakota and North Carolina forbid the possession of turtles as pets, and many other states forbid the sale of turtles with shells shorter than six inches. However, some states prohibit selling turtles unless guaranteed salmonella-free, as these hard-shelled creatures have salmonella bacteria on their shells.

Up Next:

The Top 10 Illegal Pets to Own In the United States 

Exotic Pet Ownership Laws By State 

12 Of The Dumbest (Worst) Pets 

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