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5 Popular Animals That Are Illegal as Pets in California

Owning and caring for a pet can be a highly-rewarding experience, offering companionship and a sense of purpose that allows a person to see things from a new perspective. Indeed, having a pet can substantially increase one’s quality of life.

Cats and dogs are undoubtedly the most popular pets in California and throughout the country. Other popular animals people opt for include fish, birds, and reptiles. However, not every type of animal is legal to own as a pet in the Golden State.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife makes it illegal to own a wide variety of animal species as pets, some of which may surprise you. Read on to learn about 5 popular animals that are illegal to own as pets in the State of California.


Gerbils, considered small rodents, are relatively popular pets nationwide. They don’t like to be kept alone, but groups of more than two can cause problems. Male and female gerbils are quick to breed as well, so it’s generally recommended to have two males or two females. 

As nocturnal animals, gerbils come alive at night – making sleep difficult at times for their caretakers. Cute as they are, however, gerbils aren’t legal to own as pets in California. 

One possible reason for this is that California’s climate is similar to what gerbils enjoy naturally. That means that if they escape, there’s a higher likelihood that feral colonies could arise that can cause damage to local flora and fauna.


Hedgehogs are natural foragers and are also relatively common pets throughout the United States. They are known for their coat of sharp spikes and for curling up into a ball when threatened – doing so offers them substantial protection against any would-be attackers in the wild.

Many people enjoy keeping hedgehogs nearby as they can be a strong deterrent to outdoor pests. Like gerbils, hedgehogs are also nocturnal and are known to cover many miles in their overnight travels.

Unfortunately, people in California cannot legally have hedgehogs as pets. The primary reason for this is that they pose a threat to many native species. 


Monkeys come in all different shapes and sizes. Some species make it evident that they are closely related to human beings, while others seem entirely different. Though they are relatively rare pets, some people do desire to have a monkey as their close companion.

Owning a monkey as a pet comes with many challenges, as rewarding as it may be. Monkeys can cause serious damage to a person’s home and can cause disturbances at any time of day or night. They also require more day-to-day care than most other animals.

At the end of the day, it’s not legal to have a monkey as a pet in California. While part of the reasoning falls in line with why hedgehogs and gerbils aren’t allowed, it’s also believed that monkeys can pose a threat to human safety as well.


Ferrets are popular pets in the US, as indicated by the CDC. They are natural escape artists, so keeping them enclosed can be a challenge. It’s also generally not recommended to keep one as a pet if you have young children, as they can bite and potentially spread illness.

As with hedgehogs and gerbils, the potential risk to native plant and animal species is why they aren’t legal pets in California.


Chipmunks are widely considered one of the cutest animals within the rodent category. They are known for their pudgy cheeks, which expand to carry food for consumption and storage. Chipmunks are technically part of the squirrel family and share many of the same characteristics.

Although many people view chipmunks as desirable pets, that’s not a legal option in California. They pose a possible threat to local animals and plants, so the state thinks it best to keep them far away.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help You Understand California Law

These animals and many others are illegal to own as pets under California law. Fortunately, you still have plenty of options that can significantly add to your enjoyment of life. And if you need any help understanding state law or have further questions regarding a legal issue, reaching out to a qualified attorney is your best bet.

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If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.

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