18 Animals You Can’t Keep as Pets in the U.S.

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By Jonathan Trent

Many people aren’t strangers to keeping an exotic pet or two. If cats and dogs don’t quite cut it for you and you’re on the lookout for a new pet, you might want to stay clear of these 18 animals that are prohibited in the U.S.


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While known for being native to Australia, kangaroos remain on the banned pet list for over 30 states across the USA. The reasons for the ban vary from state to state, as some consider them exotic animals, while others categorize them as a protected species.


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This one might be surprising as small, furry animals like ferrets can often make good pets. Yet in the U.S., ferrets are prohibited in California and Hawaii. Ferrets are at risk of two diseases which can be fatal for both animals and humans: canine distemper and rabies, according to the National Library of Medicine.

Alligator Gars

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The reason that people are banned from keeping alligator gars as pets is actually twofold, both bad and good. In Florida, they’re looked upon favorably for helping the ecosystem, therefore, the ban is in order to protect their numbers. In other states, the ban is due to the fact that they compete with native predators.

Bengal Cats

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Many states in the U.S. have banned Bengal cats due to concerns over hybrid breeds. If a Bengal cat is too closely related to the Asian Leopard Cat, according to Green Matters, then it can’t be permitted as a house pet. This is due to concerns over its wild nature.

Racoon Dogs

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Not to be confused with the raccoon itself, the raccoon dog is banned as a pet in all states across the U.S. They’re known for being a particular threat to native wildlife, but they’re also a risk to humans thanks to carrying deadly pathogens.

African Clawed Frogs

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African Clawed Frogs are natives of sub-Saharan Africa, and they’re also a choice of pet for many people in the U.S. However, 12 states forbid keeping them as such due to the dangers they pose if they were to escape. The African clawed frog can compete for food and prey on other animals.

Giant African Snail

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Surprisingly, the snail has become a popular choice, mainly due to their simplistic nature. Yet the Giant African Snail is banned in every state. This is because it poses a particular threat to agriculture. With a big appetite, it can feed on hundreds of crops, resulting in a threat to human life, too.


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Squirrels are often mistaken for adorable furry animals, when in reality they’re a wild rodent that can cause a lot of problems indoors. 26 states in the U.S. forbid keeping the squirrel as a pet based on conservation and exotic animal laws, as they don’t thrive in indoor environments.

Snowy Owls

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Unfortunately for all the Harry Potter fans out there, you can’t keep your own snowy owl as a pet – or any other owl native to America, in fact. They’re protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prevents them from being killed, captured or sold, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Sugar Gliders

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Sugar gliders may seem like the perfect small pet, yet certain states in the U.S. have banned them. Alaska, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Hawaii have all banned keeping these furry creatures as household pets. Other states may be more lenient, but there are still restrictions country-wide.


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While various birds, and parrots in particular, make for fantastic pets, parakeets are illegal in seven states in the U.S. These birds are furthermore restricted in 10 other states. Because they’re very social animals, a lot of the concern comes from how they would react in captivity.

Freshwater Stingrays

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If you happen to have access to fresh water on your property, perhaps you considered keeping a stingray as a pet. Unfortunately, 11 states ban keeping freshwater stingrays as a new family member. This invasive species can negatively impact local marine life when it’s released.


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23 states in the U.S. have restrictions on keeping monkeys as pets. The main reason for some states banning them is in order to protect them from poor treatment when kept in captivity. It’s also to protect humans, too, as some monkeys can carry diseases.


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Skunks can carry rabies, making them dangerous to be around for dogs and humans. And we all know that skunks are known for their potent bad smell, making them possibly the least desired pet even if they were permitted! As it stands, they’re banned as pets in 32 U.S. states.


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In California and Hawaii, you can’t keep a gerbil as a pet. This is due to the landscape in these states being very similar to their natural habitat. Gerbils may therefore return to their ‘wilder’ roots and be less easy to control and maintain!

Pit Bulls

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Considered one of the most controversial dog breeds by many, there are certain cities in the U.S. that impose restrictions on pit bulls, including San Francisco, regarding unneutered pit bulls. Yet some consider prohibiting certain breeds as problematic; the American Veterinary Medical Association states that “any dog can bite, regardless of its breed”.


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In certain states in the U.S., including California, Hawaii and Georgia, there are restrictions in place about keeping hedgehogs. You can be fined for keeping a hedgehog in these places. Other states accept hedgehogs as pets, but generally, there are restrictions to be aware of.

Alligator Snapping Turtles

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Alligator snapping turtles are now a protected species under certain laws in the U.S., due to them being sought after for their large shells and meat. California in particular has banned all snapping turtle species. And in the southeast, worries over salmonella means that South Carolina has implemented a general ban.