Pet Otter Legal and Illegal States 2024


Being one of the cutest, most playful and most curious animals on earth, Otters seem tempting to own as pets. But Unfortunately, these fluffy carnivorous mammals are illegal to keep as pets in many US states. As of January 2024, only eighteen states allow their residents to keep Otters as pets. In some of these states, residents need to obtain a permit or license in order to keep an Otter as a pet.

Pet otters playing with their owners

In Florida, for instance, you need to obtain a Class III permit to own an Otter. Nebraska residents need to obtain a Captive Wildlife Permit to own an Otter while North Dakota residents need a Non-Traditional Livestock Permit. So, in this article, you will discover the states in which Otters are legal to keep as pets as well as whether or not Otters make good pets.

Otters are Legal To Own in:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Indiana
  4. Michigan
  5. Mississippi
  6. Missouri
  7. Nebraska
  8. Nevada
  9. New York
  10. North Carolina
  11. North Dakota
  12. Ohio
  13. Oklahoma
  14. Oregon
  15. Pennsylvania
  16. South Dakota
  17. Tennessee
  18. Virginia

Not all species of Otters are allowed to be kept as pets in the states listed above. In Missouri, for example, river otters are allowed as pets with a permit. Asian-clawed otters are allowed in all states where otters are legal to keep as pets because they are not marine animals and are not federally protected. In North Carolina, Asian otters are considered exotic and are unregulated without a permit.

There are also some requirements to meet such as caging and facility in order for a permit to be issued for private ownership of Otters in those states. Florida residents, for instance, must pass a caging inspection before a Class III permit or license will be issued. In addition, substantial experience may also be required. In Michigan, an enclosure that is at least 10’ x 8’ x 6’ is required to keep a pet otter.

It is Illegal To Own Otters in:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. District of Columbia
  9. Georgia
  10. Hawaii
  11. Idaho
  12. Illinois
  13. Iowa
  14. Kansas
  15. Kentucky
  16. Louisiana
  17. Maine
  18. Maryland
  19. Massachusetts
  20. Minnesota
  21. Montana
  22. New Hampshire
  23. New Jersey
  24. New Mexico
  25. Rhode Island
  26. South Carolina
  27. Texas
  28. Utah
  29. Vermont
  30. Washington
  31. West Virginia
  32. Wisconsin
  33. Wyoming

Otters as Pets

A baby otter

Do otters make excellent pets? To begin with, otters are incredibly intelligent wild animals and are not recommended as pets even if your state allows them. Nevertheless, small-clawed otters are increasingly becoming popular as pets around the world. You might perceive pet otters as being cute and affectionate when you see them in YouTube videos.

However, otters need the right type of habitat and enough room or else they can become bored and noisy. Known for their playful behavior, these cute creatures, which often socialize in groups, do well when kept in pairs. Moreover, owning a pet Otter in a state where they are legal can be very expensive. Acquiring an otter in a legal state can cost you around $3,500 to $5,000.

Otters need to be kept in secured spacious enclosures because they have sharp claws and are highly skilled at climbing and escaping. As such, they can become aggressive and use their claws and strong teeth to defend themselves if they feel threatened. Furthermore, Otters can act aggressively toward their owner if they are kept in unsuitable conditions or in an enclosure that is too small. Naturally, Otters do not live with domestic animals like dogs and cats. However, a YouTube video shows a pet otter who can not sleep without holding a cat.

As cute as otters look, they can smell bad and can not be trained as dogs or cats. As a result, your pet otter is likely to leave poo and smells around the house. According to the National Wildlife Federation, Otters can live for up to 21 years in captivity. The oldest otter ever on record was a female named Etika, who lived to be 28 years old. A 23-year-old otter named Rosa is currently the oldest known living sea otter.


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