Nine Pets It’s Illegal To Own In California (Slideshow)


You may be surprised to discover some of the pets you can’t legally own in California, a state with some of the strictest laws in the country regarding pet ownership. Some of them are pretty obvious, like the leopard, while others, like the owl, are considered wild and so should not be confined.

The list, as maintained by the California Department of Fish and Game, is extremely long, so here are just nine of the forbidden pets of California.

The raccoon, like the squirrel, skunk and possum, is a wild and unpredictable animal that can transmit rabies. So you probably don’t want one of these in your home!

First photo: Unnerdal; second photo: Andrew’s Wildlife

Ferret enthusiasts have tried to persuade the state to eliminate the ban but the animal is considered a threat to native wildlife. It’s a safe bet that not all Californians abide by this rule, however.

Photo Credit: oaklandzoo22

Skunks, on the other hand, are wild, unpredictable and can transmit rabies. Not to mention, they stink! So it’s unlikely that many Californians would want to hug one of these.

Photo Credit: AxionPhoto

And don’t think about bringing home a first generation wolf dog hybrid, since these animals cannot be legally kept as pets in California.

Photo Credit: Striving to a goal

Piranhas are dangerously aggressive fish with razor sharp teeth.


And talking of dangerous teeth, possession of a leopard or any other big cat is prohibited in California, although it is allowed in other states.

Photo Credit: dkleinst

Monk parakeets, also known as Quaker parrots, may look adorable, but they pose a threat to agriculture.

Photo Credit: Bird Spotter

And here’s another bird you might not have expected to see on the illegal list: owls and other birds of prey are wild and should not be confined.

Photo Credit: JamesieAB

Finally, one you may not even have heard of: African clawed frogs cannot be pets in California because they compete with and threaten native California species.

Photo Credit: C-Monster

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Marigold A
Past Member about a month ago

No wild/exotic animal should be "owned" anywhere!! We're already killing millions of unwanted pets every year.

Veronica Danie
.2 years ago

Why would anyone want an exotic pet?

Waefefa E.
Waefefa E.5 years ago

Stop spreading the lie that piranhas are "dangerously aggressive". How ignorant someone must be to make a post like that. There are ZERO accounts of piranhas killing people. It's lack of knowledge like this that keeps unreasonable bans in place.

Amalthea Lalaith
Amalthea Lalaith5 years ago

I agree with most of the animals on this list. There are good reasons for them being illegal. I disagree with ferrets and quaker parakeets however. You also forgot to mention, sugar gliders, hedgehogs and gerbils. Why gerbils are illegal but hamsters are not makes no sense to me?

Abbe A.
Azaima A5 years ago


Roxanne D.
Roxanne Daus5 years ago

I understand about most of the animals...but I completely disagree about ferrets!! Ferrets make absolutely wonderful pets! I have 5...and believe me..they are no threat to any wildlife! God forbid that they some how get lost outside, they would die of starvation before they become a threat to any wild life. My cats pose a much much bigger risk to wildlife than my ferrets. That ban should be lifted across all states! It's a stupid law! May as well ban cats as pets then..and dogs! They are way more successful predators than ferrets!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

awesome article. interesting. thanks!

Jamie Blue
Jamie Blue5 years ago

too bad about ferrets...they are good pets. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Robert
Mary Robert5 years ago

To Suzy D., I believe most states have provisions for rescuing badly hurt wild animals. Contact the state's Fish & Game Dept. or the nearest large zoo. In New Mexico, one can sign up to be a wild bird and/or animal caregiver. When the state receives word of a hurt animal, the animal is given vet care and is released to a caregiver for the recuperation period. If a full recovery is made, the animal is released back into the wild. There are facilities in the state that provide homes for animals and birds whose injuries render them unable to survive in the wild.

Regina P.
Regina P5 years ago

Thank you for the article