A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Pets You Probably Never Realized Are Actually Illegal to Own

Updated: Dec. 16, 2022

We might love our pets dearly, but some states have surprising restrictions against owning these animals.

1 / 9
Shutterstock (3)

Not only does owning a pet make you smarter, stronger, and more resistant to stress, they can also help you live longer. What’s better than that? If you have the time, energy, and money to care for a new family member, there are so many different pets to choose from. However, some states have very strict laws restricting what types of animals can be legally owned. Is your beloved pet legal in your state but not in another? Find out the dumbest law in every state.

2 / 9
Miroslav Hlavko/shutterstock


Hedgehogs might be adorable and playful, but New York City, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Douglas County, Nebraska, don’t allow them to be kept as pets. If released into the wild, they’re capable of creating their own population, according to Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and host of Wild Countdown. Hanna also mentions that their quills can become sharp when they’re feeling threatened, which can be painful to humans and other animals. Despite this, hedgehogs still remain popular pets in other parts of the country. (Here’s a shocking fact–puppy mills are still allowed in the U.S.)

3 / 9


Chances are, you’ve probably seen ferrets in almost every pet store you’ve been in. That is… unless that pet store was in Hawaii, California, Washington, DC, or New York City. Unfortunately, ferrets sometimes carry rabies, which is why these parts of the country keep their distance. This is especially true for Hawaii, the only state free of the disease. Having a pet ferret in Hawaii could cost you up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000, according to Business Insider.) Like hedgehogs, ferrets could easily create their own population; they thrive best in climates like California’s and Hawaii’s, says Hanna.

4 / 9

Sugar gliders

If you live in Alaska, California, Hawaii, or New York City, you might have to move if you want to own one of these adorable critters. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are a little more lenient and allow ownership if you have a permit. If you live somewhere where you can own a sugar glider though, keep in mind they’ll probably be around for a long time—some even live as long as 15 years, according to Hanna. But with a lack of acceptance of keeping these gliders as pets, finding food and nectar that fits into their strict diet can be difficult.

5 / 9
Bastian Bodyl/Shutterstock

Chinese Hamsters

Believe it or not, these popular critters are illegal to own in California and Hawaii. Similar to ferrets, Chinese hamsters’ natural habitat is very similar to the climate in these states. According to the Humane Society, “Agricultural and environmental officials have expressed concern that released or escaped hamsters could establish wild colonies and damage crops and native plants and animals.” Despite this, hamsters make for great first pets, says Hanna. Check out these 26 secrets your pet store won’t tell you.

6 / 9
Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock


Pigs are incredibly smart animals. Sometimes, they’re even impressively more intelligent than dogs, says Hanna. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop New York City from banning them as being pets. In part, this is due to their capability of becoming aggressive toward humans and other animals.

7 / 9
agus fitriyanto suratno/Shutterstock

Venomous reptiles

Even if you have your reptile’s venom removed, it’s still illegal to own venomous reptiles in tons of states. Tennessee, Vermont, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Washington, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Washington, California, and Connecticut have all banned having them as pets, according to Pet Helpful. Just make sure you know which pet combinations are most likely to hate each other.

8 / 9
Tang Yan Song/Shutterstock

Bearded dragons

If you plan on visiting Hawaii anytime soon, you might want to rethink bringing your beloved bearded dragon. “Snakes and large lizards have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat,” according to Hawaii.gov. “Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds.  Large snakes may also kill pets and even humans.”

9 / 9
Jana Mackova/Shutterstock

Quaker parakeet

While some states are accepting of these little birds, others banned them altogether. According to a list compiled by the Quaker Parakeet Society, Quaker parakeets are illegal to own in California, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Pennslyvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Wyoming. Along with other illegal pets, these parakeets have potential to create their own flocks and throw off local ecosystems. Next, read up on these 50 more things you won’t believe are banned in America.