15 Animals You Can’t Have as Pets in the U.S.

Blonde Woman Holding Pet

Thinking about adopting a unique pet? While the idea might sound intriguing, it’s essential to know that not all animals are suited for domestic life. As people found out the hard way, there’s a variety of critters that are better off in their natural habitat. However, it’s not just a matter of preference – laws regarding exotic pet ownership vary from state to state, with many states outright prohibiting the possession of certain species. In this slide show, we’ll discuss 15 wild animals you should steer clear of as pets.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels.

#1 Raccoons

Close Up Shot of a Racoon
Image Credit: Pexels.

While raccoons might make adorable internet stars with their masked faces and mischievous antics, they’re not meant for domestic life. In many states, it’s illegal to keep raccoons as pets due to their wild nature and potential health risks. These critters have specific dietary and environmental needs that are best suited for their natural habitat, not your living room.

#2 Deer

Tilt Shift Lens Photography of Deer
Image Credit: Pexels.

Despite their gentle appearance, deer are wild animals that belong in the great outdoors, not your backyard. Deer can display aggressive behavior, especially during mating season or when feeling threatened, which poses safety risks to humans and other pets. It’s illegal to keep deer as pets in most states. Plus, deer can carry diseases and pose safety risks to humans and other pets.

#3 Groundhogs

Image Credit: suzbah /Depositphotos.com.

Groundhogs, those chubby burrowers famous for predicting the weather on Groundhog Day, aren’t exactly cut out for life as a pet. Besides being illegal to keep in many places, groundhogs have a knack for digging, which can wreak havoc in your yard or home. They’re best admired from a distance, preferably on February 2nd.

#4 Alligator

alligator / crocodile.
Image Credit: zmachacek /Depositphotos.com.

While the idea of having a mini-gator as a pet might sound intriguing, it’s definitely not a good idea. Alligators are wild reptiles that require specialized care and ample space to thrive. Not to mention, keeping them as pets is usually illegal and could land you in hot water with the law. Stick to plush toys if you’re craving some reptilian company.

#5 Gerbils

The great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus)
Image Credit: Yerbolat /Depositphotos.com.

With their tiny paws and twitchy noses, gerbils might seem like the perfect pocket-sized pet. However, they’re not allowed in some states due to concerns about them escaping and potentially becoming invasive species. Plus, gerbils are social creatures, so they need companionship to thrive, which can complicate things for solo pet owners.

#6 Dingoes

Two dingo dogs laying on a log in a zoo
Image Credit: Pexels.

Ah, the dingo, Australia’s wild canine icon. While they might seem like fascinating pets, they’re not allowed in the US for good reason. Dingoes are highly intelligent and independent creatures, bred for survival in the harsh Australian outback. Trying to domesticate them would be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – it just doesn’t work.

#7 Skunks

Young skunk in a Saskatchewan roadside ditch
Image Credit: pictureguy /Depositphotos.com.

You’ve probably heard of people having their pet skunk’s scent glands removed to make them less… fragrant. But guess what? It’s illegal to keep skunks as pets in many places, gland removal or not. Plus, skunks have specific dietary needs and can be prone to health issues, making them challenging pets for even experienced owners.

#8 Eagles

Close Up Photo of Black and White Eagle
Image Credit: Pexels.

As majestic as they are, eagles are strictly off-limits when it comes to pet ownership. They’re protected under federal law, and keeping them without proper permits is a big no-no. Besides, eagles belong in the wild, soaring through the skies and doing eagle things – not cooped up in someone’s living room.

#9 Sloths

Portrait of Sloth Hanging Upside Down on Branch
Image Credit: Pexels.com.

Sloths might be the epitome of chill and seem like the ultimate cuddle buddy, but they are wild animals with highly specialized needs. And they’re protected by wildlife conservation laws, so keeping them as pets is a big legal headache. Best to leave them to do their slow-motion thing in the rainforest where they belong.

#10 Venomous Reptiles

A Wildlife Photography of an Indian Cobra
Image Credit: Pexels.

Keeping venomous reptiles as pets is like playing with fire – literally. Not only are they dangerous to handle, but it’s also illegal in many places due to safety concerns. Unless you’re a trained herpetologist, you probably don’t have the expertise to properly care for these slithery critters.

#11 Kangaroos

A funny adult kangaroo animal of gray color stands on its hind legs and looks at the camera in a zoo on a yellow stone in cloudy weather in winter.
Image Credit: veloliza /Depositphotos.com.

Kangaroos might be the unofficial symbol of Australia, but they’re not meant to be house pets. These marsupials need vast open spaces to hop around freely, which most homes simply can’t provide. They’re also protected by wildlife laws, so keeping one as a pet could land you in some legal trouble in most states.

#12 Piranhas

Red-bellied Piranha in Close-up Shot
Image Credit: Pexels.

Hollywood might portray piranhas as ferocious predators, and they’re definitely not suitable for the average home aquarium. In fact, keeping piranhas as pets is illegal in many states due to their aggressive nature and potential danger to other fish and humans. Stick to goldfish if you’re looking for aquatic companionship.

#13 Bats

Selective Focus Photo of Black Bat on Brown Stone
Image Credit: Pexels.

While they might make for spooky Halloween decorations, bats are wild animals that should remain in the wild. Keeping bats as pets is not only illegal in most places, but it’s also incredibly risky due to the potential transmission of diseases like rabies. Plus, they have very specific dietary and environmental needs that are nearly impossible to replicate in captivity.

#14 Squirrels

Little cute red squirrel eating nut in grass.
Image Credit: zmachacek /Depositphotos.com.

Who hasn’t been charmed by the sight of a cute squirrel chattering away in the backyard? But as tempting as it might be to make one your pet, it’s generally not allowed. Squirrels are wild animals with complex social structures and specialized needs that are best suited for their natural habitat. Plus, they can carry diseases and may not adapt well to life in captivity.

#15 Mongoose

Selective Focus Photo of Gray Mongoose on Grass
Image Credit: Pexels.

With their sleek bodies and lightning-fast reflexes, mongooses might seem like fascinating pets. However, they’re not meant to be domesticated. In addition to being illegal to keep as pets in many places, mongooses are highly active animals that require extensive space and enrichment to thrive. Plus, they’re known for their ferocity when it comes to hunting snakes, which might not be ideal for your home environment.

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Hasthi Wand

Hasthi is a writer with nearly a decade of experience in editing, proofreading, and creating content on a variety of topics, including language, literature, travel, food, digital marketing, health, and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, watching movies, and exploring new places.