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These 11 Pets Are Illegal in Some States

Some states prohibit the possession of certain animals as pets.

Almost seven in 10 American households own at least one pet, according to the 2020 National Pet Owners Survey. Dogs are the most popular, followed by cats and freshwater fish. But rules on owning non-native, exotic pets are often much stricter.

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

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

Bearded Dragons

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

In the U.S., a majority of states require bearded dragon owners to have a license to keep as a pet. 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
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Intelligent and playful, the Bengal cat is one of the most popular cat breeds in the world, a hybrid created from a domesticated cat and Asian leopard cat.

They can be kept as pets in most U.S. states provided that 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 City.


A popular exotic pet for many families, there is an outright ban on keeping them as pets in California and Hawaii, as well as cities such as New York and Washington D.C.

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


Originally from Central Asia, mainly Mongolia, Gerbils are not considered exotic because they were domesticated decades ago and are not imported from overseas anymore.

However, in California and Hawaii you can’t own a Gerbil as a pet. Hawaii has a unique ecosystem and California has an environment similar to the gerbils natural habit, so if they escape into the wild, there are fears they could pose a threat to wildlife.


Your cute and furry friend will not be welcomed in Hawaii

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

Just like gerbils, if they escape into the wild, they could be a threat to the native Hawaiian ecosystem.


A Hedgehog is seen at the San Francisco Zoo. The small animals are very quiet and low-maintenance pets.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

They’re banned as pets in a handful of U.S. states, including Georgia, California, Hawaii, Colorado and Pennsylvania. Bans also exist in Washington, D.C, and all five boroughs of New York City.

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

Monk Parakeets

A monk parakeet in flight.
A monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) also known as the quaker parrot flies at the Atena park of Madrid, on September 15, 2016. The monk parakeet, as an invasive species, has become a problem to local fauna such as pigeons and sparrows.

Native to South America, these green-colored parrots with orange beaks and blue on their tail and feather tips, are considered an agricultural pest by authorities in 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 plenty of daily exercise in large outdoor spaces and a varied and healthy diet.

Some states require a permit for ownership, others don’t allow certain species to be kept, 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, Washington State, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Red-bellied piranha

Red-bellied Piranhas swimming in their tank . This is the most common species of the piranha in the pet trade. Despite common beliefs, piranhas are not simply carnivores as they will also eat plants and whatever else they can find.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

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

Keeping them as pets is banned 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 to keep as pets in some states, so always check with local authorities before bringing one into your house

The pocket-sized possums are native to forests in Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

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


The Red-Eared Slider is the most common pet turtle in the U.S., but they are now considered among the world’s 100 most invasive species and are banned in Oregon and Florida.

Turtles can carry salmonella and the U.S. has banned the sale or distribution of all turtles with shells that measure less than 4 inches long since 1975. North Carolina and South Dakota do ban the sale of all turtles regardless of size.