What Animals Are Legal To Own In California?

South San Francisco, CA  October 25, 2021 by Allie Clevenger, ESC

Unusual pets are more commonplace in these times as owners prefer to think outside of the box and explore different types of animals. If this appeals to you, here are a few ideas on the variety of pets you are able to own legally in your state.


Did you know these pets are legal to own in California?


  • Pot Belly Pigs
  • Pygmy Goats
  • Miniature horses
  • Tarantulas
  • Ball Python (these type are non-venomous)
  • Chinchillas
  • Lynx
  • Lizards (non-venomous)
  • Llamas and Alpacas

An unusual pet, yet it is legal to own llamas in California.
Photo: abbat


While the above may sound enticing, California has strict laws on which animals are NOT to be kept as pets. These include:


  • Ferrets
  • Monkeys
  • Gerbils (although hamsters, mice, rats and Guinea pigs are allowed)
  • Squirrels
  • Hedgehogs
  • Sloths
  • Foxes
  • Skunks
  • Raccoons
  • Jaguars
  • Cheetahs
  • Bobcats
  • Deer
  • Alligators
  • Zebras
  • Lemurs
  • Prairie Dogs
  • Any Wolf hybrid
  • Leopards

While illegal to own in California, Sloths have been known to be owned by private parties.
Photo by Roxanne Minnish from Pexels


Did you know that even so much as feeding a wild animal in California is illegal,

and could include a fine of up to $1,000!


Reasons for the ban of owning some of these animals are due to the fear of destruction of California’s natural habitats. Concerns are that animals such as gerbils, who escape or are let go with form feral colonies that interfere with the animals native to California. Some rules are simply because the animals are not to be domesticated and are not safe to keep as pets, as they pose a threat to humans.


Extra Extra: Have you heard these weird facts about animals?


  • Dogs are somewhat resistant to the venom of a black widow spider, however, horses and cats are very sensitive to it.
  • Rats can laugh
  • Cats do not have sweat glands
  • Garter snakes can birth up to 85 babies (yikes!)
  • Iguanas can hold their breath up to 30 minutes

Garter snakes can birth up to 85 babies!
Photo: pexels-pixabay-162347


4.5 4 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

Is there a specific frog that is illegal or all frogs are?

The earl of sandwiches
The earl of sandwiches
2 months ago

Are comorants legal?

The Jet
The Jet
2 months ago

Yeah cause the sloth is just going to take off and start messing up the environment bc they are so vicious and destructive…

Also, seems hypocritical that its legal to kill as many skunks, racoons or squirrels as you want. Just don’t try to keep one for a pet bc you will be hurting the natural flora of California’s overly watered desert if you do… What a load of BS california political garbage.

Michelle Walkup
Michelle Walkup
1 month ago
Reply to  The Jet

Bwahahaha 😂😂 RIGHT?!
I don’t recall ever hearing any stories about a Sloth attacking someone? But, then again…it is California. We wouldn’t want anyone to contract Sloth Pox.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michelle Walkup
25 days ago

I think it’s more cause people don’t know how to care for even a fraction of these animals and most vets probably would be woefully unprepared. I could easily see some fool thinking they could care for a sloth and somehow screwing that up horribly. I am curious about the ferrets though. I thought that was a common pet.

Joe Bommerman
Joe Bommerman
3 months ago

man cali sucks can’t own nothing here

Angela Zhang
4 months ago

Is the blue dragon illegal?

4 months ago

how about Prairie Dogs

Rosalie Nuncio
6 months ago

I want a chipmunk is that legal please reply

7 months ago


Last edited 7 months ago by Christalle
7 months ago

i did not know you could own a Lynx. Now i need and want one

6 months ago
Reply to  Kacchan


1 month ago
Reply to  vale

they are cute

8 months ago


Ava Marie Romero
1 year ago

I have to comment on this my best friend sandy once had a pot belly pig growing up in west winston manor it wasn’t ok to have pigs as pets back then in the 90s back then. They had to take it back to the barnyard although it’s a very sweet piggy. My dad before he met my sweet mom once had a pet monkey and my grandma said please take that monkey back it is too much trouble and our family cannot it true story. Didn’t know pet momkeys are illegal only can be seen on a movie screen excellent information