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Are Sugar Gliders Legal in California? Can You Own One?

Are sugar gliders legal in California?

Because there is no US federal law about this, it all boils down to where you live.

Before adopting exotic animals, know the policies on pet ownership in your state first. 

Here’s a quick sugar glider-owning guide for California.

Can You Own a Sugar Glider in California?

a baby sugar glider being held

Unfortunately, NO. You cannot own, sell, or keep a sugar glider in California.

The 14th California Code of Regulation 671 restricts the import, transport, or owning of live exotic animals. [1]

Sugar gliders are among the listed illegal animals to own. They fall under category C (marsupial animals) of the code.

The law bans other wild animals like nocturnal critters and bearded dragons. Prairie dogs, squirrel monkeys, ferrets, and guinea pigs are also not allowed.

Among the illegal venomous snakes are aggressive snakes like the green anaconda.

Sugar glider ownership requires you to secure a special permit.

You have to follow animal importation requirements to get an entry permit to own a sugar glider.

The permit desk will not give you a special permit unless for study purposes. Another exemption to owning a pair of gliders is if you run a Zoo or Safari.

You can also get a special permit if you own a registered animal control office or facility. 

But, getting a special permit is a tedious process. You must follow the animal care facility and caging standards. [2] The Animal Health Branch will track your facility’s compliance.

If you qualify, here’s the USDA guide on how to get a permit for a sugar glider and all other exotic species. [3]

Going back, ownership of sugar glider pets is illegal in California.

You could be curious and ask, “Are sugar gliders legal in Massachusetts?” or “What about the other states?”

Again, no universal federal law makes ownership of non-native animals illegal. Yet, each state has strict regulations protecting native wildlife and natural resources. 

For more reference, here is a TikTok video listing the states where you cannot be a glider owner.

@cookietheglider

Here are the states I’m illegal in! #sugarglider #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #like #follow #followmeh

♬ You – Petit Biscuit

Why Are Sugar Gliders Illegal in California?

There are reasons why the answer to the question are sugar gliders legal in California? Ecological balance. This is why an adorable glider is illegal to own in California.

These pocket pets seem like harmless social animals. But, they are not part of California’s native species.

The USDA worries that the curious animals escape into the wild. They can ruin the natural habitat and California’s ecosystem.

There are no natural predators that feed on this animal species. Still, they eat other native animals in the California ecosystem. 

Another reason is that they can carry transmittable animal diseases. Diseases can threaten public health. 

The Animal Health Official can declare them healthy animals upon entry. But they could be possible carriers of undetected diseases.  

If these diseases are not affecting wildlife, they could harm human health.

Here is a more in-depth explanation of why sugar gliders are illegal in some states.

What Are The Consequences of Owning an Illegal Pet in California?

There will be two cases that you’ll have to face if caught owning a pet glider. 

First, the USDA will file a criminal case against you. You will face criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor.

It carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Further, the USDA can also file a civil case against you.

If proven guilty, the state will make you pay a civil fine amounting to $500 to $10,000.

Do you know the worst part of being an illegal pet owner? The authorities will confiscate your pet. You can never have them back. 

Even worse, They will euthanize your furry companions. 

If you think you’re good at keeping secrets, imagine this scenario. You can keep your furry friends captive at home forever, but what if they get sick?

They are not forever healthy animals. Of course, you’ll have to take them to the veterinarian. Part of their protocols as licensed professionals is to abide by the California Law.

Even if they don’t want to, they have to report you to the authorities for owning an exotic pet.

So to save you from the tragedy, you are better off not owning illegal exotic pets.

What Can You Do To Change This Law To Make Sugar Gliders Legal in California?

a sugar glider playing outside

I have good news! The state acknowledges California citizens’ voices. You can petition to amend the glider rule. However, it will not an easy one-man job.

You will need to gather people’s support. 

Want to know the process?

Read on to learn these 8 Steps on how to propose an amendment to a Californian Law.

  1. To qualify the initiative, first draft the proposed law’s text. You can enlist the help of the Legislative Council in drafting the bill.
  2. Proponents must first offer the law’s concept to the Legislative Counsel. 
  3. Request a draft of the proposed legislation. At least 25 voters must sign it.
  4. If approved, the Legislative Counsel will develop the proposed law of the bill.
  5. The Attorney General will then write the title and summary of the report.
  6. They will send a copy to the Secretary of State within 15 days of receiving the measure’s final version.
  7. The Attorney General collaborates with proponents but has the final say.
  8. The law amendment is published and will be implemented in your state.

Others also start their petition online through change.org. There was an initiative five years ago.

Thirteen-year-old Alek Perez started a petition to make sugar gliders legal in California. The petition had 434 supporters. 

Unfortunately, the website has already closed the petition. But you can always start a new campaign to make these animals legal.

People are now more reachable through social media influence than five years ago. 

Before that, do your thorough research to defend your petition. Propose amendments that will still sustain ecological balance.

FAQs

Which pets are illegal in California?

a ferret running

Generally, exotic animals are illegal in California. Example animals are ferrets, squirrel monkeys, reptiles, and nocturnal critters. Exotics are those animals that are not part of the native wildlife.  
You could also read about why are hamsters illegal in California.

What exotic animals are legal in California?

Hybrid cats, wolfdogs, constrictor snakes, toucans, and tarantulas are among the legal pets in California.

Are sugar gliders legal in California?

a sugar glider with white belly

Currently, sugar gliders are not legal to keep as pets in California.

Conclusion

Let’s go back to the question, “Are sugar gliders legal in California?”

Sad to say, no.

The government is firm with the law but thinks about the risk of exotic pet ownership.

It’s better to prevent ecological imbalance than keep catching a runaway sugar glider.

sugar glider climbing a tree

Are sugar gliders legal in California? Please share your opinion below!

Resources

  1. “Why Can’t I Have a Hedgehog, Sugar Glider, Ferret, or Other Restricted, Non-Native Species as a Pet in California?” Wildlife.ca.gov, wildlife.ca.gov/living-with-wildlife/restricted-pet-species.
  2. “Weblinks.” Govt.westlaw.com, govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Document/ID5449E80D48011DEBC02831C6D6C108E/?transitionType=Default&contextData=%28sc.Default%29. Accessed 7 May 2022.
  3. “Restricted Species Permits.” Wildlife.ca.gov, wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Restricted-Species.
Alina Hartley
Alina Hartley

Alina Hartley is a small-town girl with a ginormous love of bearded dragons. It all started with Winchester, a baby bearded who was abandoned at the shelter by his former owners because of a birth defect that caused one front leg to be shorter than the other. Alina originally went to the shelter looking for a guinea pig, but one look at Winchester and it was love at first sight. From that day on, Alina has dedicated her life to learning everything she can about bearded dragons. She loves helping new beardie parents start their incredible journey with these magnificent reptiles.
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