Top 7 Legal Exotic Pets in Massachusetts

Massachusetts enforces strict laws regulating the ownership of pets, specifically limiting the types of animals that can be kept. According to the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, certain exotic animals can be legally owned as pets without the need for a permit.

1. African Pygmy Hedgehog

In Massachusetts, it is legal to own an African pygmy hedgehog, also known as a four-toed hedgehog, as a pet without the need for a permit. These unique creatures can make wonderful exotic pets, but they do require specific care and living conditions.

Four-toed hedgehogs thrive in environments that are quiet, dimly lit, and kept at a warm temperature ranging from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. According to experts at WebMD, these hedgehogs can be a delightful and relatively low-maintenance addition to your household, as long as they receive the proper care and attention.

To ensure the well-being of your four-toed hedgehog, you need to handle them consistently and correctly on a daily basis. This will help them to relax and become more comfortable in your presence.

2. Sugar Glider

a pet Sugar Glider

In Massachusetts, you can have a sugar glider as an exotic pet. There are numerous benefits to owning a sugar glider, including their self-cleaning nature which eliminates the need for regular baths. These exotic pets are also low maintenance, as they do not require frequent grooming and can be easily litter trained. Furthermore, maintaining their enclosure is a simple and straightforward task, making them an ideal pet for those seeking a hassle-free ownership experience.

3. Southern Flying Squirrel

a pet Southern Flying Squirrel

The only species of squirrel that is legal to keep as a pet in Massachusetts is the southern flying squirrel. This unique creature can make a wonderful companion if you are willing to invest the time and effort into taming it from the moment you bring it home. According to The Spruce Pets, southern flying squirrels require ample opportunities for exploration and exercise. Fortunately, due to their small size, much of this activity can be accommodated within the confines of their cage. However, they also benefit greatly from supervised time outside of their enclosure to prevent any potential injuries.

4. Mink

a Mink

According to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (321 CMR 9.01), you are permitted to own a Mink as an exotic pet without obtaining a MassWildlife permit or license. However, the Code requires that pet minks must be bred in captivity for at least two generations. Minks bear a striking resemblance to ferrets, but they are not low-maintenance pets that can simply be fed and forgotten about. These semi-aquatic mammals are renowned for their luxurious fur and remarkable agility, but they are generally not recommended as suitable pets for a variety of reasons.

5. Painted Turtle

A Painted Turtle

You can have a painted turtle as a pet in Massachusetts. Painted turtles' docile nature makes them a popular choice, but their care requirements are more demanding than those of typical household pets. It is advisable to carefully consider the commitment involved in caring for a painted turtle before making a purchase, given their long lifespan (20 to 40 years). Additionally, painted turtles do not enjoy being handled and prefer to live solitary lives, which may make them less suitable as pets for children.

6. Bearded Dragon

You don't need a permit to own a pet bearded dragon in Massachusetts. In some instances, however, you may need to comply with local regulations. Adult bearded dragons typically measure between 16-22 inches in length, with a maximum size of 24 inches, and weigh between 10-18 ounces. They can live up to 20 years when kept as pets in captivity. Due to their long lifespan, it is advisable for multiple members of the household to familiarize themselves with the proper care and needs of these pets.

7. African Ball Python

An African Ball Python

In Massachusetts, a variety of python species, including the ball python, are permitted to be kept as pets. Adult female ball pythons typically reach lengths of 3 to 5 feet, while adult males average 2 to 3 feet in size. The good news is that a ball python will never grow large enough to pose a threat of swallowing its owner. They have an average lifespan of 20 years when kept as pets. Ball pythons are known for their gentle demeanor and ease of handling, making them an excellent choice for novice snake owners.


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