Pet Otter Legal States 2022

What States Can I Have a Pet Otter?

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, permitting, and licensing in your particular state.

North Carolina

North Carolina will allow several exotic animals to be kept as pets and has very few pet ownership restrictions. Native mammals, however, are regulated, and you must need a permit to house them. River otters are native to North Carolina, so a permit is required in order to keep this animal for educational, exhibition, or scientific purposes. Asian otters are another common otter species kept as pets, so they are unregulated without a permit. However, local jurisdictions in specific counties or cities may have laws prohibiting exotic animals.


A simple Wildlife Hobby Permit is usually all that is needed to keep exotic pets in Missouri. The permit will only apply to keeping one animal under the permit. Usually, in Missouri, exotic animals are designated by classes. Class I Wildlife usually includes smaller animals and reptiles, while Class II Wildlife contains animals that could be considered dangerous, like venomous snakes. River otters are specifically mentioned as animals that can be owned with a permit. However, Asian otters are not mentioned, implying they are legal without special permitting. River otter care is closely monitored with specific cage guidelines.


Florida uses a similar classification system categorizing exotic animals into Class I, which are the most dangerous, and Class III animals that don't harm the general public. Animals not specially mentioned in Class I and Class II automatically fall into Class III. Because otters are not specifically mentioned, they fall under Class III regulations which means they need a simple permit for care. Otter care is closely monitored to ensure proper enrichment is provided. The otter, interestingly, is classed with ferret, genet, and mink care under Florida state law.


In Nebraska, only a Captive Wildlife Permit is needed to keep river otters. Asian otters are legal without a permit and are not regulated. It costs $33 to purchase a permit, and an officer will visit your house to ensure you have the proper enclosure and habitat for your pet otter to thrive.


Otters are considered "game animals," so they apply under game animal laws. This classification means that only native otters are covered, including a river otter. You can keep an otter as a pet with the proper permits that allow you to house game animals in captivity. They will need to be kept in an enclosure that is at least 10 feet x 8 feet x 6 feet, and an additional 40 square feet is required for every additional animal. The otter will also need access to a separate den at least 4 feet x 4 feet x 4 feet.

North Dakota

The permit needed to keep an otter in North Dakota is called a Non-Traditional Livestock Permit. Otters are considered a category 2 animal, which means they are somewhere between domesticated animals and dangerous animals. Pet owners can get a permit once a local wildlife officer inspects their facility to ensure the right size, shape, and closure are in place.


In Nevada, rules are pretty relaxed for large carnivores. Otters do not appear to be restricted at all, and even if otters are considered marine mammals, they do not require a special permit, even for importing or exporting animals. However, remember that marine mammals are illegal to own on a federal level.

Pet Otter Legal States 2022