Pet Sloth Legal and Illegal States 2024

Sloths are undeniably one of the exotic animals specifically sought out to own as personal pets in many states. Moreover, Sloths are oddly cute animals, so owning one as a pet may be tempting. However, before keeping a sloth as a pet, you'll want to know if it is legal in your state, which is the first and right step to take.

A sloth hanging on a tree

Exotic pet ownership laws vary greatly by state and even from municipality to municipality. For example, in Alabama and Indiana, residents don't need a permit to own a pet sloth and while a permit is required to own a pet sloth in Florida and Pennsylvania, the ownership of pet sloths is illegal in Georgia and California.

Additionally, exotic pet laws typically change when a wild or exotic pet attacks a human and the attack results in a severe bodily injury or death. Consequently, the exotic species involved in the attack may be banned or restricted from being kept as a pet in the state where the attack occurred.

For example, after a chimpanzee attack left a Connecticut woman in critical condition in 2003, Connecticut enacted a new law in 2004, which banned all primates from being kept as pets in the state.

In this article, you will discover the states that allow pet sloths without a permit, states that require residents to obtain a permit before owning a pet sloth, and states that prohibit residents from keeping sloths as pets. 

If you live in a state where it is legal to keep a sloth as a pet, I suggest you check your local animal ordinances, as some cities or towns may ban animals that aren't banned under state laws.

States in Which a Permit is Not Required To Own a Pet Sloth

You don't need to obtain a permit in other to keep a sloth as a pet in the following states:
  • Alabama
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

States in Which a Permit is Required To Own a Pet Sloth

You need to obtain a special permit in order to keep a sloth as a pet in the following states:
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

Some states like Tennessee, Virginia, Connecticut, and Nebraska have lists of dangerous animals that are specifically banned as pets and sloths are not included, so they are probably legal with a permit. And in most of these states, only two-toed sloths are allowed to be kept as pets.

States in Which Owning a Pet Sloth is Illegal

It is currently illegal to keep a sloth as a pet in the following states:
  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont

Do Sloths Make Good Pets?

A man cuddling a pet sloth

Generally, a sloth is not recommended to keep as a pet, even if your state allows it because sloths make very poor pets. Moreover, acquiring a pet sloth could cost you up to $6,000 and finding a breeder is extremely difficult in some states. These slow-moving, fascinating creatures are very unpopular pets, for a good reason.

Though they can perfectly adapt to a life suspended from tree branches, sloths can't be domesticated, plus, they require special care, diet and attention. In addition, these oddly adorable mammals sleep a lot during the day and are awake at night. Therefore, if you keep a sloth as a pet, you and your family may need to adjust sleep schedules to accommodate proper care for your seemingly lazy pet.

According to Brevard Zoo, pet sloths maintain their natural instincts and hate to be petted, groomed or bathed. In March 2023, a Michigan girl received two puncture wounds from a two-toed sloth she was petting at a pet store event. Furthermore, pet sloths need to be kept in a warm and humid environment because they are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature and cannot tolerate the cold. Virginia Safari Park says sloths eat a vegetarian diet of leaves, buds, stems and fruit.

Overall, sloths do not make good pets and keeping one as a pet requires a great deal of commitment. Sloths live for up to 40 years in captivity and 30 years in the wild. The oldest sloth in captivity ever turned 51 years 325 days old as of 22 March 2022, according to Guinness World Records.


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