Animal lovers, take heed: some pets commonly found in America might be illegal to own in your state or city.
Keep scrolling to learn about ten popular creatures that are banned in the US, from “pocket pets” like hedgehogs and sugar gliders to hybrid cat species such as Bengals.
Hedgehogs are popular “pocket pets” — but they’re banned in a handful of US states.
Their cuteness may catapult them to internet fame, but hedgehogs are banned in various US states including Georgia, California, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. The spiny mammals are also illegal to keep as pets in Washington, DC, and all five boroughs of New York City.
Hedgehogs not only threaten local eco-systems by competing with native species for habitat and food — they can also carry diseases and bacteria such as salmonella.
So are ferrets.
As with hedgehogs, it’s illegal to keep ferrets as pets in California, Hawaii, New York City, and Washington, DC. These mammals — which belong to the same genus as weasels — are also prohibited in other cities such as Dallas, Texas, and Columbia, Missouri.
In addition to posing a threat to native wildlife, ferrets have been known to bite people. Without vaccination, they can spread rabies.
Like hedgehogs, sugar gliders are common pocket pets — but some states and cities still ban the adorable marsupials.
Sugar gliders are illegal to own as pets in a few states, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Some cities, such as St. Paul, Minnesota, and New York City, also prohibit the pint-sized, nocturnal marsupials.
Although native to Australia and New Guinea, sugar gliders are classified as exotic animals in the US.
Ownership of quaker parrots, also called monk parakeets, is restricted in many states.
Quaker parrots — also known as monk parakeets — are medium-sized parrots native to South America. In the past few decades, the birds have formed wild colonies in the US in Florida, Texas, and New York. As a result, some view Quaker parrots as intrusive to agriculture.
It’s illegal to own one of the multi-hued birds in seven states. However, Quaker parrots are allowed, with restrictions (i.e. permits, banding, and microchipping), in 10 additional states.
Venomous reptiles are banned throughout the US.
Those of us afraid of snakes can rest easier knowing that a plethora of states (at least 19) ban people from owning poisonous reptiles as pets.
Regulation varies, but hybrid cats are banned in nine states.
Hybrid felines — including common breeds like Bengals and Chausies — are banned in nine US states and two cities (Denver, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington).
The extent of regulation varies by state, but in some cases, Bengals need to be at least four generations removed from their Asian ancestors.
Pit bulls and other dogs viewed as “dangerous” have been targeted by breed-specific legislation in cities across the US.
According to DogsBite.org, just under 1,100 US cities have legislation that bans pit bulls or calls for their mandatory sterilization.
Iowa, Kansas, and Ohio are the states with the highest volume of breed-specific legislation (BSL) regarding pit bulls and other breeds perceived as “dangerous,” such as Doberman Pinschers, and Rottweilers. (Technically speaking, the term “pit bull” refers to a dog group that encompasses diverse breeds, including the Staffordshire bull terrier and the miniature bull terrier.)
Of course, this breed-specific legislation is highly controversial. The ASPCA and pro-pitbull advocates argue that it’s not the breed that’s dangerous, but irresponsible owners.
“All dogs, including pit bulls, are individuals. Treating them as such, providing them with the care, training, and supervision they require, and judging them by their actions and not by their DNA or their physical appearance is the best way to ensure that dogs and people can continue to share safe and happy lives together,” the ASPCA says on the matter.
It’s illegal to have a pet gerbil in California and Hawaii.
Gerbils are illegal to own as pets in California and Hawaii because these states have a climate similar to the rodents’ natural desert habitat. If they escape into the wild, they could form colonies and disrupt endemic flora and fauna.
Pet hamsters are banned in Hawaii for the same reason.
Pet hamsters are prohibited in Hawaii because, like gerbils, they can escape into the wild and harm native plants and animals.
In the US, it’s illegal to sell or distribute turtles with shells smaller than four inches long.
The US banned the sale of small turtles as pets in 1975 to prevent the spread of salmonella — a bacteria that the reptiles are known to carry. Before the law was passed, there were an estimated 280,000 turtle-related infections each year in the early ’70s, primarily in young children.
Although turtles can still be sold to be exported or used for educational purposes, they cannot be sold as pets if their shells are smaller than four inches long.