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Are Ferrets Illegal in California? [What Does the Law Say?]

You may be wondering are ferrets illegal in California?

The fact is that ferrets are not legal in the state.

But why are they illegal and what happens if you are caught keeping one as a pet?

If you want to own a ferret in the state, read on to find what you can do.

Can You Own A Ferret In California?

Can you have a ferret in California? The answer is no, you cannot legally own a ferret in The Golden State.

@amie.riggs pet laws here are so weird. I just want a ferret #california #ca #fy #fp #trending #fyp #fypシ ♬ follow meee taytlaurel – taytlaurel

According to California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, Section 671- Importation, Transportation and Possession of Live Restricted Animals:

“It shall be unlawful to import, transport, or possess live animals restricted in subsection (c) below except under permit issued by the department.” [1]

Ferrets are listed in subsection C list of restricted animals.

In fact, all members of the Mustelidae family (ferrets, badgers, minks, otters, weasels, and wolverines), with the exception of 5 species of otters, are not legal to own as pets in California.

In California, it officially became illegal to own ferrets as pets on March 7, 1986. However, the origins of those restrictions actually date back to the latter part of 1933.

This is when the California Fish and Game Commission and the California Department of Food and Agriculture enacted “Rules and Regulations Governing the Importation of Wild Birds and Animals.”

What about sugar gliders? Can you own a sugar glider in California? Check out this video!

Why Are Ferrets Illegal In California?

a cute ferret that's staring at the camera

There are 3 main reasons why it is currently illegal to have a ferret in the state.

#1 Ferrets are Considered Wild Animals and Not Domesticated.

While many people disagree with this, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife does classify them as wild animals.

#2 Ferrets are a Potential Carrier of Rabies.

Ferrets that are not vaccinated are at risk for rabies.

(Note: There are approved rabies vaccinations for ferrets). If they do become infected, they can spread rabies to humans and other animals.

#3 Ferrets May Threaten Native Animals.

Ferrets are predators, so if they happen to escape into the wild, they may hunt things like birds, reptiles, and rodents.

What about hedgehogs? Find out why are hedgehogs illegal in California.

Here’s a video that can help further explain things.

What If I Own A Ferret In California Illegally?

Having domestic ferrets in the state can result in criminal prosecution (a misdemeanor offense), monetary fines (approximately $1,000), jail time (up to 6 months), and/or civil penalties of $500 to $10,000.

You can also end up paying for the costs of your ferret’s handling, storage, and transportation.

Once your ferret is removed from your possession, it may be sent to a rescue organization, released into the wild, sold to a laboratory, sold into the pet trade, or sadly, euthanized.

While most California residents that are caught with pet ferrets are not usually criminally prosecuted, they are many times charged with fines that can add up to costly amounts.

California ferret owners are normally caught when someone reports them to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What Can You Do To Make Ferrets Legal In California?

a representation of legal papers

There are a few things that anyone can do to push to make ownership of ferrets legal in the Golden State.

While Californians who are ferret lovers are fighting hard to allow them as pets, you don’t have to live in the state to be an advocate for helping to legalize ferrets in California.

The first thing you can do is to contact your California State Senate and State Assembly representatives requesting them to consider a ferret legalization bill.

California has 40 State Senators and 80 State Assembly Members. To find your representatives, head to the website of the California State Legislature. [2]

LegalizeFerrets.org has a sample letter for you to use when contacting your state representatives. [3]

Another thing you can do is to sign a petition for legalizing ferrets. Change.org has a couple of great petitions you can sign.

Legalize Ferrets in California is a petition to California Governor Gavin Newsom. Make Ferrets Legal in California is a petition to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Can You Get A Permit For A Ferret In California?

You cannot get a permit to keep a ferret as a pet in the state.

However, there are certain individuals, facilities, and organizations who are able to obtain a special permit, from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, to have a ferret.

These include animal handlers accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), conservation societies, medical research facilities, qualified commercial/educational exhibitors, and universities, for the purpose of public health and/or scientific research.

Restricted Species permits come with required, nonrefundable fees, including $130.30 for all new permits and $67.47 for all permit renewals or amendments to existing permits.

A video on how difficult it is to get a ferret permit in CA.

Where Are Ferrets Illegal Around the World?

Besides California, the only other U.S. state where it is illegal to own a ferret is Hawaii. It is also not legal to have a pet ferret in Washington, D.C.

Also, while it is legal to have ferrets in most of New York state, they are illegal in all 5 boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx).

Outside of the United States, ferrets are also illegal in South Africa, New Zealand, and 3 areas of Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, and Western Australia).

Laws in the US about ferret ownership are evolving. Get some recent updates in this video and learn what you can do.

FAQ’s

How much is a ferret?

The cost of a ferret will depend on where you get them. For example, adopting one from an animal rescue will be between $150-$200, while purchasing one through a breeder will cost between $100-$300.

What do I need to own a ferret?

a ferret running

There are a few items you’ll need to get started to own a ferret including best ferret cages, bedding, food and food bowls, water bottles, litter box and litter, toys, and a travel carrier.

Conclusion

Pet ownership of a ferret in the state of California has been a problem since 1933. Right or wrong, people have been trying to change the law when it comes to legalizing ferrets for many years.

Hopefully, one day in the near future, residents of California will be able to legally own ferrets.

Can You Own a Ferret in California

Have you tried owning a ferret in California? Let us know how it went down in the comment section!

Resources

  • 1. “View Document – California Code of Regulations.” Govt.westlaw.com, govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Document/I420B22B050DF11E08087EFF0807E5D57?viewType=FullText&originationContext=documenttoc&transitionType=CategoryPageItem&contextData=(sc.Default). Accessed 4 May 2022.
  • 2. “California State Legislature—Your Legislator.” Www.legislature.ca.gov, www.legislature.ca.gov/your_legislator.html.
  •  3. “Yes, I’ll Contact My Legislators!” Legalize Ferrets, www.legalizeferrets.org/volunteer-to-contact-my-legislators/. Accessed 4 May 2022.
D T
D T

Deanna is a passionate animal lover. She is the mom of several guinea pigs and sugar gliders.
When she’s not writing, Deanna loves listening to country music, or watching Dancing With The Stars.
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