I’ve had a number of pets over the years, including dogs, cats, fish, parakeets and guinea pigs.  As you can see, I like to stick to the traditional domesticated pets, and not the more…exotic ones.

That said, if you’re into the wild side of things, here’s a list of some pets you can keep in MA, if you're able to obtain a permit.

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Piranha.  There are hundreds of fish you can own in MA, but a piranha isn’t one of them.  From their teeth to their bite to the type of water they can survive in…just get a different fish.  Side note…did you know that piranhas swim in packs for their own safety?


Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Venomous snakes. Snakes are kind of tricky, with some requiring a permit and some not requiring a permit.  First off, know that ALL venomous snakes require a permit, such as a rattlesnake.  Other non-venomous snakes, like a python, do not require a permit.  You can check out the link at the bottom of the article for more specifics if you’d like.

A Rattlesnake soaks up the afternoon sun in central Montana

Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards. These lizards are a no-go without a permit.  Both are venomous, which is one of the main reasons they’re banned without a permit in Massachusetts.  Also, don’t confuse a Beaded Lizard with a Bearded Dragon…the latter you can own in MA, along with many other lizards such as iguanas and most types of geckos.


Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Migratory Birds. This is another tricky category, to an extent.  A migratory bird is generally considered something like a blue jay or cardinal, to use common examples found in Massachusetts.  At the same time, if for some reason you wanted to own a pigeon…you could do so without a permit.


Alligators and Crocodiles. I mean, this one is pretty self-explanatory, from the dangers involved to the weather in our area…just don’t do it.

Alligator in Lake Charles, La.
Philip A. Guillory (Big Boy Chill)

In addition, you won’t be able to keep other wildlife in Massachusetts as pets, such as foxes, raccoons, skunks or even squirrels.

Remember, even if you want to own one of those animals that requires a permit, it can be very hard to obtain one in Massachusetts.  You generally need to prove you’re owning one for research, education, or commercial reasons.  Pet ownership in Massachusetts is pretty strict, for the safety of both the people and the animals.  If you do want a more exotic pet, maybe get a chinchilla or a bull frog, which you can keep without a permit.

If you want more specifics, here’s a great source of what you can own, and not own as a pet in Massachusetts:  Wildlife as pets | Mass.gov


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