It may seem bizarre, but there are many animals that are illegal to keep as pets. There is a good reason for criminalizing owning some types of animals. Foreign or exotic animals can bring diseases from their native lands or cause environmental havoc if they escape from their owners. Moreover, many wild animals are simply too dangerous to ever tame, and while they may not wreak havoc on the environment if they escape, they may harm or potentially kill neighbors.

What Are Some Examples of Illegal Animals?

There are a variety of animals that are considered illegal to own. Although each state has different laws, these are the most common types of animals that are considered illegal:

  • Any endangered or rare species
  • Animals considered wild by nature (e.g., tigers, lions, bears, monkeys)
  • Most poisonous and deadly animals (e.g., rattlesnakes, piranhas)

What Are the Likely Consequences for Being Caught with an Illegal Animal?

The punishment for being caught with an illegal animal can be quite severe. In addition to confiscating the animal, punishments tend to include:

  • Heavy fines, potentially up to $25,000
  • Community service
  • Jail time

How Can an Attorney Help?

If you move across state lines with an exotic pet, problems may arise if you are not aware of the local laws. Moreover, even taking in and rescuing a sick animal that is otherwise illegal to own may result in criminal liability. A local criminal defense attorney can explain the law to you, and make sure you and your animal are not treated improperly.