The regulations pertaining to exotic animal ownership vary from state to state. In Virginia and Wisconsin, for example, there are no state regulations to control the purchase or sale of exotic animals; in Colorado rules are much more stringent. Knowing state regulations are the best first step for any exotic animal owner hoping to expand the “family.”
In general, it is illegal to own wildlife in Colorado -- raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks or any other cute woodland creature is considered a public resource and not an appropriate pet. In addition, there are a number of exotic and non-exotic species you cannot have as pets according to Colorado regulations.
A complete list of restricted or banned wildlife as well as wildlife you can own in Colorado
can be found at the Colorado Department of Wildlife
I have included a short list of commonly owned non-mammal critters from the Colorado of Department of Wildlife here:
- All tropical and subtropical birds, including parrots.
- All tropical and subtropical fishes, including common gold fish and koi.
- All tropical and non-native subtropical frogs, toads, snakes, and lizards. All venomous snakes require a license and proof of commercial use.
- All marine vertebrates and invertebrates, except anadromous and catadromous species.
- All tropical and non-native subtropical turtles. Caimens are legal. Alligators and crocodiles require a license.
The best rule of thumb to follow is if you can purchase it in a reputable pet or herpetology store, then it is probably licensed for sale and ownership in the state of Colorado, though it may require a special permit. With impending action on HR 669, a revised version of the Non-native Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act, it’s a good idea to take stock of what creepy crawlies you own and who might be affected by the current regulations or the changes that may be made in the federal law in the future.