Legal Exotic Pets in Canada

According to data from World Animal Protection, more than half of Canadians own pets. And of these pets, virtually 1.5 million are exotic animals. The bylaws regulating the ownership of exotic animals vary by province and territory.

For example, British Columbia and Ontario allow the ownership of the African Serval cat while Quebec and Alberta prohibit it. The most popular exotic animals kept as pets in Canada are birds, closely followed by reptiles, and then wild mammals. So, the legality of each exotic animal on this list is subject to each Canadian province or municipality's bylaws.

Exotic Animals that are legal to keep as pets in Canada

Exotic Animals That are Legally Kept as Pets in Canada

1. Alligators and Crocodiles

According to World Animal Protection, more than five thousand Alligators and more than four thousand Crocodiles are kept as pets in Canada. If you are considering a pet Alligator or Crocodile, you may want to check your municipality's bylaws to see if it is legal.

2. Birds

Many exotic birds, including Macaws, Amazon parrots, Falcons, Parrotlets, Conures, African grey parrots, Cockatoos, Lovebirds, and Cockatiels are legal to keep as pets in Canada.

3. Turtles and Tortoises

The following species of Turtles and Tortoises are legally kept as exotic pets throughout Canada: Hermann tortoises, Greek tortoises, Painted turtles, Red-eared sliders, and Ornate-box turtles. The Red-eared slider is the most popular species of turtle commonly kept as a pet in Canada.

4. Lizards

Day geckos, Iguanas, Bearded dragons, Chameleons, and Leopard geckos are legal to keep as exotic pets in Canada.

5. Amphibians and Arachnids

The following Amphibians and Arachnids are legal to keep as exotic pets in Canada: Toads, Northern leopard frogs, Salamanders, Tarantulas, Scorpions, and Vinegaroons.

6. Snakes

The following exotic snakes are legal to keep as pets in many Canadian municipalities: Boa constrictors, Burmese pythons, Ball pythons, Kingsnakes, and Corn snakes.

7. Wild cats

The following exotic cats are legal to own in some Canadian municipalities: Serval cats, Savannah cats, Bengal cats, Caracals, Asian leopard cats, Leopards, Tigers, and Lions.

8. Wild dogs

Dingoes, Fennec foxes, Red foxes, and Raccoon dogs are legal to keep as pets in a few Canadian municipalities.

9. Other wild animals

Other exotic animals that are legal to keep as pets in Canada include Sugar gliders, Monkeys, Capybaras, Hamsters, Gerbils, Chinchillas, Common degus, Guinea pigs, African pygmy hedgehogs, Vietnamese Pot-bellied pigs, and European ferrets.

Exotic Pet Laws By Province in Canada

1. Alberta

In Alberta, more than 500 wild animals are not allowed to be kept as pets. These animals are classified as "Controlled Animals" and may only be possessed by zoos. While the list of prohibited wild animals in Alberta seems fairly comprehensive, the province permits far more animals than it bans. For more info, refer to this list of "Legal Exotic Pets in Alberta."

2. British Columbia

After a woman was fatally mauled by a pet tiger in British Columbia in 2007, the province enacted new laws, banning roughly 1,200 wild animals classified as "Controlled Alien Species." Nevertheless, like the province of Alberta, British Columbia permits far more animals than it prohibits. In addition, British Columbia's list of prohibited animals, for the most part, focuses on species that pose a potential threat to the public's safety and doesn’t consider the fact that wild animals are not suitable as pets and suffer in captivity.

3. Manitoba

The province of Manitoba has a provincial law preventing a range of wild animals from being owned as pets. These animals include but are not limited to wild dogs, wild cats, raccoons, kinkajous, cacomistles, cat-bears, pandas, coatimundis, bats, badgers, ermines, skunks, otters, pole cats and wolverines, gophers, muskrats, pacas, groundhogs, marmots, beavers, prairie dogs, alligators, caimans and crocodiles, African rock pythons, Indian or Burmese pythons, monkeys, apes, chimpanzees, gorillas and lemurs.

The full list of prohibited exotic animals in Manitoba can be found here.

4. New Brunswick

The province of New Brunswick enacted its exotic pet laws after two young boys, aged 4 and 6, were killed by an African rock python on August 5, 2013, in the city of Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada. Check out New Brunswick's Exotic Animals Act.

5. Newfoundland and Labrador

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador regulates the possession of exotic animals by listing the animals permitted to be kept as pets in the province.

6. Nova Scotia

The province of Nova Scotia has a list of exotic wildlife species that are not permitted to be kept as personal pets or imported into the province to be kept as pets.

7. Ontario

Ontario has no laws regulating the ownership of exotic animals. However, individual municipalities in Ontario have their own bylaws that prohibit the ownership of certain exotic animals. This means there are no provincial laws prohibiting Ontario residents from keeping many exotic wild animals, including primates, tigers, venomous snakes and crocodiles.

8. Prince Edward Island

The province of Prince Edward Island has some of the toughest exotic pet laws in Canada. A license is required to keep an exotic animal as a pet in the province. Additionally, the province has a list of wildlife species considered dangerous to humans, which must not be kept as pets and for which a license will not be issued.

9. Quebec

The province of Quebec has a list of exotic animals that are legal and illegal to keep as pets. Notwithstanding the list's comprehensiveness, Quebec permits far more animals than it prohibits. For example, exotic species that may be owned without a license in Quebec include but are not limited to Chinchillas, Hedgehogs, Flying squirrels, Hamsters, Degus, Guinea pigs, Peccaries, Kangaroo rats, Jerboas, all Amphibians, Camels, llamas, Alpacas, Vicuñas, Bison, Buffalos, and Antelopes.

10. Saskatchewan

The province of Saskatchewan allows many exotic animals to be kept as pets without a license. These animals, include but are not limited to Guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, salamanders, newts, toads, rats, mice, budgies, parrots, macaws, finches, cockatiels, peacocks, parakeets, lovebirds, guinea fowls, turkeys, bobwhite quails, chukar partridges, pheasants, and nonvenomous snakes.

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