Traveling With Exotics Such as Rabbits, Ferrets, Small Rodents, and Others

Know the requirements and restrictions for transporting exotic pets

Certain species kept as pets, such as flying squirrels, are actually regulated as captive wildlife by authorities at local, state, federal, and international levels. Captive wildlife generally require a special permit to own, possess, or even transport. If you are unsure if the species of exotic pet you have requires a permit to have, check with your state wildlife management agency. 

Laws for possessing wild animal species or their hybrids – even if kept as an exotic pet – differ across states and countries.  People who own or otherwise possess these animals and find themselves no longer able or authorized to keep them must work with the appropriate authorities (e.g., State, Federal, or Tribal wildlife agencies) or legally authorized and qualified organizations (e.g., wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, or aquariums that are covered by the Animal Welfare Act or that are accredited) for proper disposition of them. No species of wild animal or exotic pet, once in captivity, should be released into the environment unless specifically authorized by authorities.

It is your responsibility to comply with the import requirements of the authorities at the destination, and the chart below will help you find the rules and regulations that impact you and your pet. In addition, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association may be able to assist you with your pet’s international travel.

What type of Travel? Where to find requirements and restrictions?
By public air, rail, bus, or boat Check with the carrier line that you will be using.
Interstate (travel across state or territory borders within the U.S.) Find the requirements of your destination location and the contact information of the animal health authority on the USDA’s webpage, State Regulations for Importing Animals.AND

If your pet is regulated as captive wildlife (flying squirrel, bobcat, quail, opossums, etc.), check with the involved state wildlife management agencies in your state and the state of destination to learn if you may legally own and transport the species, what the requirements are to do so, and what to do if you are not allowed to have the species.

International travel from the U.S. (exporting) Contact the consulate or embassy of the country of destination or the country’s animal health authority for information on the importation requirements.AND

Check the USDA’s Animal and Animal Product Export Information, including if an import permit is required and if a designated port needs to be used.AND

If your pet is regulated as captive wildlife (flying squirrel, bobcat, quail, opossums, etc.), check with the involved state wildlife management agencies in your state and the state of destination to learn if you may legally own and transport the species, what the requirements are to do so, and what to do if you are not allowed to have the species.

International travel into the U.S. (importing) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has regulations on the importation into the U.S. of African rodents and bans the importation of Civets. Monkeys and other nonhuman primates may not be imported as pets under any circumstances.AND

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the importation of reptiles, birds, and other captive wildlife.AND

Check for the import requirements for the state of destination on the USDA’s webpage, State Regulations for Importing Animals, as well as the involved state wildlife management agencies.

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