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Pet Otter Legal States 2024

Pet Otter Legal States 2024

Keeping a pet otter may seem tempting because they are adorably playful and curious. However, many states do not allow otters to be kept as pets. Very few states allow otters, but some may allow this animal with special permitting and licensing. Keep in mind that any otter species is a wild animal that will need specialized care, housing, and diet to stay happy and healthy. Of course, before deciding to purchase a pet otter, do your research to ensure you have the right applications, permits, and licenses in your particular state.

In all states where otters are legal to be kept as pets, the only species that can be owned is the Asian-clawed otter. Because Asian otters are not marine animals, they are not federally protected. Sea otters on the other hand are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes them federally illegal to own. It is important to get a pet otter from an individual or group that sells exotic animals because removing one from the wild can be dangerous.

In Which States Can I Have a Pet Otter?

There are fifteen states that allow you to own a pet otter with no permit. They include California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

North Carolina will allow several exotic animals to be kept as pets and has very few pet ownership restrictions.

Otters are considered "game animals” in Michigan so they apply under game animal laws. This classification means that only native otters are legal which includes the river otter.

In Nevada, rules are pretty relaxed for large carnivores that cannot be owned in other U.S. states. River otters do not appear to be restricted at all. Nevada even lists “marine mammals” as requiring no permit to export, import, or own as a pet.

Other states allow otters to be owned as pets as long as a permit has been obtained. In Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia potential otter owners need a permit to keep their furry friend as a pet. This process may include a home visit to make sure the otter has a proper enclosure and space to grow and live.

Pet Otter Legal States 2024

  • Laws regarding wild animals kept as pets may change with little notice. Moreover, even in states where otters are legal at the state level to keep as pets, additional regulations may exist at the county, municipal, or local levels.
  • In light of these uncertainties, prospective otter parents are encouraged to confirm legality with local authorities before adopting.
  • Many states have multiple laws and/or codes which address the legality of otter ownership. In these cases, the most relevant and/or comprehensive source is cited.

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Pet Otter Legality
Legal Statue
IndianaPermit requiredFish and Wildlife, 312 IAC 9-3-18.2Source
MichiganPermit requiredMichigan Department of Natural Resources, Parts 401 and 427, 1994 PA 451Source
NebraskaPermit requiredNebraska Administrative Code. Game and Parks Commission. Title 163: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Chapter 4 - Wildlife Regulations. 008 Keeping Wildlife in CaptivitySource
North CarolinaPermit requiredCode of Laws of South Carolina 1976 Annotated, 50-16-20. Importation of wildlife for certain purposes prohibited; investigation; permit.Source
North DakotaPermit requiredNon-Traditional Livestock, North Dakota Department of AgricultureSource
OklahomaPermit requiredLicense and Permit Requirements. § 4-107. Commercial wildlife breeder's license--Nonresident cat/bear temporary exhibitor's permit--Penalties. § 4-107.1. Circuses--Application of actSource
OregonPermit requiredImportation, Possession, Confinement, Transportation and Sale of Nonnative Wildlife, Prohibited SpeciesSource
PennsylvaniaPermit requiredTitle 34 Pa.C.S.A. Game, Chapter 23. Hunting and Furtaking, Subchapter D. Furtaking RegulationsSource
South DakotaPermit requiredAdministrative Rules, 12:68:18:03Source
VirginiaPermit requiredVirginia Administrative Code, Importation requirements, possession, and sale of nonnative (exotic) animals. 4VAC15-30-40Source
CaliforniaLegalDepartment of Fish and Wildlife, Restricted Species Law, Manual 671Source
FloridaLegalFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Class III WildlifeSource
MissouriLegalApproved Confined Wildlife Species List, Division 10—Conservation Commission Chapter 9—Wildlife Code: Confined Wildlife: Privileges, Permits, StandardsSource
NevadaLegalChapter 503 - Hunting, fishing and trapping; Miscellaneous Protective measures; Classification and Taking of WildlifeSource
New YorkLegalNew York Consolidated Laws, Environmental Conservation Law - ENV § 11-0917. Possession, transportation and sale of wild game and other wildlifeSource
District of ColumbiaIllegal
MississippiIllegalRule 8.2 Regulaitions for game and fur-bearing animals in captivitySource
New HampshireIllegal
New JerseyIllegal
New MexicoIllegal
Rhode IslandIllegal
South CarolinaIllegal
West VirginiaIllegal
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