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Summary of State Laws Relating to Breeding Wild and/or Exotic Animals

Thousands of exotic animals are bred across the United States, in people's backyards, at roadside zoos, and others are surplus animals from zoos. Obtaining an exotic animal is easy. Hundreds of Internet sites offer to sell, give care advice, and provide chat rooms where buyers and sellers can haggle over a price.

The following is a summary of state laws relating to the breeding of wild and/or exotic animals. On the federal level, all persons breeding these animals are required to obtain a breeder's license pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act. Note: This summary lists all laws relating to breeding in the individual states and is a complete list of animals covered under the laws, unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions please contact legislation@bornfreeusa.org at Born Free USA united with API at 916-447-3085.


An alligator farm permit may be issued to any person who has not committed any crime relating to the illegal taking of a crocodilian species; certain standards are established for breeding facilities which must be open to inspection at all times. Annual Fee $1000.00.

ALA. ADMIN. CODE r. 220-2-.96


No Statutes or Regulations.


A wildlife holding license authorizes a person to engage in specific activities with the specific live wildlife listed on the license; the authorized activities shall be listed on the license and may include but not be limited to any of the following: possession, transportation, importation, educational display, exhibit, purchase, propagation, export, give away, or kill; a statement regarding the applicant's experience working with the specific wildlife is required; the Department issues wildlife holding permits to: (1) individuals who legally possess restricted wildlife and are moving into the state, (2) for educational display, (3) for the advancement of science, and (4) to foster an animal unable to return to the wild; restricted wildlife includes, but is not limited to the following species: all species of Carnivora (canines, felines, excluding domestic); orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas, alligators, crocodiles, cobras, vipers, etc.

ARIZ. ADMIN. CODE §§ R12-4-406, R12-4-409, R12-4-417, R12-4-425, R12-4-426


Breeding of wolves or wolf-dog hybrids is locally regulated.

ARK. CODE ANN. § 20-19-408


A breeder's permit may be issued to a person who meets the following qualifications: 18 years of age, experience caring for restricted species; a Single-Event Breeder Permit may be issued to a nonresident who is in the business of exhibiting animals if the above qualifications are met (certain institutions engaging in scientific and public health research are exempt). A person may only breed wild animals listed on the department approved permit inventory. Wild animals include, but are not limited to the following orders: Primates, Marsupialia, Insectivora (shrews), Chiroptera (bats), Carnivora (non-domestic dogs and cats), Proboscidea (elephants), Perissodactyla (zebras, horses, rhinos), Reptilia (crocodiles, cobras, coral snakes, pit vipers, snapping turtles, alligators). Base Fee for Breeder's Permit $289.50 (1998); Base Fee for Single Event Breeder's Permit $34.75 (1998).

CAL. CODE REGS. tit. 14, § 671.1


No Statutes or Regulations


No person shall breed, propagate, or sell any skunk or raccoon.

CONN. GEN. STAT. §§ 22-12b, 26-40


A person shall obtain a permit to breed in captivity any native wildlife species.

DEL. REGS. CODE § 70-200-001


Any person engaging in the business of breeding exotic birds must be licensed.1

A person may obtain permits authorizing the taking or possession of wildlife or freshwater fish or their nests or eggs for scientific, educational, exhibition, propagation, management or other justifiable purposes.2

An alligator farm permit may be issued to any person who has not committed any crime relating to the illegal taking of a crocodilian species; certain standards are established for breeding facilities, which must be open to inspection. Annual Fee $250.00.3

1FLA. ADMIN. CODE ANN. r. 68A-6.006

2FLA. ADMIN. CODE ANN. r. 68A-9.002

3FLA. ADMIN. CODE ANN. r. 68A-25.004


A wild animal permit does not authorize breeding; specific authorization from the Department is required to breed wild animals.1

A commercial fox breeder license may be issued for any person engaged in the business of breeding fox for sale, restocking, propagation, or other commercial purposes. Annual Fee $60.00.2

An alligator farm permit may be issued to any person who is eighteen years of age and has not committed any crime relating to the illegal taking of a crocodilian species; the applicant's facilities are subject to inspection prior to issuing the permit. Annual Fee $50.00.3

1GA. CODE ANN. § 27-5-5

2GA. CODE ANN. § 27-2-22.1

3GA. COMP. R. & REGS. r. 391-4-11-.02


A person may not breed any mongoose without obtaining a written permit granted by the Department of Agriculture; a permit will only be issued to scientists, scientific institutions, associations, or colleges, or officers, boards, or commissions of the state or any county; no permits will be issued for Lanai or Kauai.

HAW. REV. STAT. § 142-92


Propagation of publicly owned wildlife (i.e., wildlife owned or held in trust by the state) is prohibited.

IDAHO CODE § 36-704


Any individual who possesses or engages in the breeding or raising of protected fur-bearing mammals shall procure a fur-bearing mammal breeding permit; protected fur-bearing mammals include muskrat, beaver, raccoon, opossum, least weasel, long-tailed weasel, mink, river otter, striped skunk, coyote, and bobcat; no fur-bearing mammal breeding permits will be issued to engage in the breeding of striped skunks or coyotes. Annual Fee $25.00.

520 ILL. COMP. STAT. 5/2.2, 5/3.25


A reptile captive breeding license authorizes a person to possess, breed, and sell the following reptiles: Black rat snake; Western fox snake; Eastern hognose snake; Prairie kingsnake; Black kingsnake; Eastern milk snake; Red milk snake; Bull snake; and a reptile that is not on a state or federal endangered or threatened species list and with a color morphology that is: albinistic; leucistic; or xanthic if it was not collected from the wild. Annual Fee $15.00.

IND. ADMIN. CODE tit. 312, r. 9-5-9


No Statutes or Regulations.


A person must obtain a game breeder permit to engage in the business of raising and selling the following wildlife: species of reptiles or amphibians that are native to or indigenous to Kansas; mountain lion; wolf; black bear; and grizzly bear. Annual Fee $15.00.

KAN. STAT. ANN. §§ 32-988, KAN. ADMIN. REGS. § 115-12-3


Except as provided by administrative regulation, a person shall not propagate protected wildlife without obtaining a permit.

KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 150.280, 301 KY. ADMIN. REGS. 2:081


A person shall obtain a nongame quadraped license permitting the license holder to breed and/or exhibit imported or native nongame quadrapeds. Annual Fee $10.00.

LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 56:262


A person may obtain a propagation permit for wildlife regulated by the state; a propagation permit does not authorize the permittee to propagate deer, bear, moose, wild turkey or animals taken pursuant to sections 7501, 7502, 7504 (bear, beaver, wild birds, coyotes, deer, muskrat, and raccoons). Fee $25.00 (for 2 years).

ME. REV. STAT. ANN. tit. 12, § 7235-C


A person shall obtain a permit to breed certain reptiles and amphibians considered native to Maryland (listed in section; the Secretary may prohibit the breeding of any animal found to be dangerous to human health and safety. Annual Fee $25.00.

MD. REGS. CODE tit. 08, §§ 03.11.04, 03.11.05, 03.11.06


A person may obtain a propagator's license or dealer's license for the propagation of fish and undomesticated birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that are wild by nature.1

A person may obtain a class 4 propagator's license for an authentic and legitimate scientific use certified by a scientific institution, an authentic and legitimate educational use certified by an educational institution, or a commercial use in conjunction with the applicant's primary occupation. Only the following species may be commercially propagated: fallow deer, red deer, sika deer, reindeer, American bison, aoudad (Barbary sheep), mouflon, red fox, silver fox, cross fox, and color variants thereof, Arctic fox, cassowaries, emus, rheas, ostriches, pheasants, quail, partridges, waterfowl, American alligator and federally endangered and threatened species of those groups listed in section 9.01 when approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; the licensee's facilities are subject to inspection.2

1MASS. ANN. LAWS ch. 131, § 23

2MASS. REGS. CODE tit. 321, § 2.12


No Statutes or Regulations.


No Statutes or Regulations.


Nongame wildlife may be propagated in captivity for commercial purposes only under permit. Nongame wildlife includes, but is not limited to, nongame amphibians, such as salamanders, toads, frogs, etc., nongame reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, snakes, etc., and nongame mammals including the eastern chipmunk and the flying squirrel; the applicant shall provide evidence of possessing the equipment and experience necessary for successful propagation of nongame wildlife in captivity; the applicant shall be at least sixteen (16) years of age and hold a valid commercial fishing license.

MISS. CODE ANN. § 49-1-41, MISS. CODE REGS. § 19-000-040


A person may obtain a Class I Wildlife Breeder's Permit for the following species: bullfrogs, green frogs, birds native to the continental United States, and mammals (except bison and those listed in section 10-9.240), nonvenomous reptiles, and amphibians native to Missouri; the stock must be secured from a legal source other than the wildlife of the state, and confined in humane and sanitary facilities. Circuses, publicly-owned zoos, and bona fide research facilities do not have to obtain a permit. Annual Fee $50.00.1

A person may obtain a Class II Wildlife Breeder's Permit for the following species: copperhead snakes, cottonmouth snakes, timber rattlesnakes, pygmy rattlesnakes, massasauga rattlesnakes, mountain lions or mountain lion-hybrids, wolves or wolf-hybrids, and black bears or black-bear hybrids; the stock must be secured from a legal source other than the wildlife of the state, and confined in humane and sanitary facilities; circuses, publicly-owned zoos, and bona fide research facilities do not have to obtain a permit. Annual Fee $150.00.2

1MO. CODE REGS. ANN. tit. 3, §§ 10-9.230, 10-9.350, 10-9.353

2MO. CODE REGS. ANN. tit. 3, §§ 10-9.240, 10-9.351, 10-9.353


The Director of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks may permit the taking, possession, transportation, exportation, or shipment of species or subspecies of wildlife which appear on the state list of endangered species, on the United States's list of endangered native fish and wildlife, or on the United States's list of endangered foreign fish and wildlife, for scientific, zoological, or educational purposes, or propagation in captivity of such wildlife.

MONT. CODE ANN. § 87-5-109


No Statutes or Regulations.


A person may, without a license or permit, breed reptiles and amphibians which are classified by the Division of Wildlife of the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as unprotected if the breeding is for strictly personal and noncommercial purposes; and the number of reptiles and amphibians possessed by the person does not exceed the possession limits established for each such reptile and amphibian.

NEV. ADMIN. CODE ch. 504, § 461

New Hampshire

No Statutes or Regulations.

New Jersey

No Statutes or Regulations.

New Mexico

No Statutes or Regulations.

New York

A person may obtain a license to collect or possess fish, wildlife, shellfish, crustacea, aquatic insects, birds' nests or eggs for propagation, scientific or exhibition purposes; a person may be required to submit written testimonials from two well-known persons and file a bond of $200.00 prior to license approval. Fee $10.00.

N.Y. ENVTL. CONSERV. LAW § 11-0515

North Carolina

No Statutes or Regulations.

North Dakota

Permits to propagate live protected birds or animals may be issued to any North Dakota resident. No person may possess any live protected animal or bird without first obtaining a permit.

N.D. CENT. CODE § 20.1-09-02


No Statutes or Regulations.


No person may breed or raise wildlife for noncommercial purposes without obtaining a license. Individuals possessing a noncommercial wildlife breeder's license are authorized to breed and/or raise noncommercial wildlife for personal uses only, including: breeding for a hobby, educational or scientific purposes, personal consumption, release on private property, except any bear or cat that will grow to reach the weight of fifty (50) pounds or more, and care and rehabilitation of sick or injured wildlife. Annual Fee $5.00.1

No person may breed or raise wildlife for commercial purposes without obtaining a license. Persons wishing to breed any lawfully obtained reptiles or amphibians must obtain the appropriate Commercial Wildlife Breeder's License, Noncommercial Wildlife Breeder's License, Aquatic Culture License, and Commercial Fishing License; the licensee must keep detailed breeding and hatching records.2

1OKLA. STAT. tit. 29, §§ 4-107, 4-121, 4-122

2OKLA. ADMIN. CODE § 800:25-7-7


No Statutes or Regulations.


A person must obtain a permit authorizing the propagation of a wild bird or a wild animal, which is presently found in a wild state. Fee $25.00 for one species and $10.00 for each additional species.

34 PA. CONS. STAT. § 2930

Rhode Island

Animals imported/possessed under a Wild Animal Permit (see section 4-18-3) shall not be used for breeding purposes without prior notification of and approval by the Department of Environmental Management.1

A person may keep a live raccoon for breeding purposes with a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Management.2

1R.I. CODE R. 12-020-030

2R.I. GEN. LAWS § 20-16-5

South Carolina

No Statutes or Regulations.

South Dakota

The Animal Industry Board shall regulate the breeding of any captive nondomestic animal of the mammalian class.

S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 40-3-26


A person must obtain a permit in order to propagate Class I or Class II wildlife; only commercial propagators may qualify for a Class I permit. Class I wildlife includes the following orders: Primates (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, gibbons, siamangs, mandrills, drills, baboons, Gelada baboons); Carnivores (all wolves, all bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars); Proboscidia (all elephants); Perissodactyla (all rhinoceroses); Artiodactyla (all hippos and African buffaloes); Crocodylia (crocodiles and alligators); Serpentes (all poisonous snakes); and Amphibians (all poisonous species); Class II wildlife includes: nonpoisonous reptiles and amphibians except caimans and gavials; rodents (gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats, mice, squirrels and chipmunks); rabbits, hares, moles and shrews; ferrets and chinchillas; llamas, alpacas, guanacos, vicunas, camels, giraffes and bison; avian species not otherwise listed, excluding North American game birds, ostriches and cassowary; semi-domestic hogs, sheep and goats; all fish held in aquaria; Bovidae not otherwise listed; Marsupials; common domestic farm animals; Equidae; primates not otherwise listed; bobcat/domestic cat hybrids.

TENN. CODE ANN. §§ 70-4-403, 70-4-410


A person may obtain a scientific breeder's permit in order to engage in the business of breeding white-tailed deer; applicants must submit a breeding plan accompanied by a letter of endorsement by a certified wildlife biologist. Annual Fee $150.00.1

The Parks and Wildlife Department may issue permits for the taking, possession, propagation, transportation, sale, importation, or exportation of a nongame species of fish or wildlife if necessary to properly manage that species.2

1TEX. PARKS & WILD. CODE ANN. § 43.357, 31 TEX. ADMIN. CODE §§ 53.8, 65.602

2TEX. PARKS & WILD. CODE ANN. § 67.0041


The following species of snakes may be collected and held in possession for propagation: California kingsnake, Great Plains rat snake, and Mojave patch-nosed snake; a certificate of registration must be obtained from the division in order to breed these snakes; certificates of registration may be issued to an applicant who is a resident of Utah, has 5 years of experience in reptile husbandry and 3 years of experience in the captive propagation of reptiles, is able to demonstrate the ability to provide suitable facilities, and has not been convicted a any recent wildlife violations.

UTAH ADMIN. CODE § R657-3-42


A person may obtain a license to propagate fish and wild animals if the application appears to be made in good faith. Annual Fee $50.00.

VT. STAT. ANN. tit. 10, § 5207


A person may obtain a permit for propagation of any fish or wildlife in captivity for preservation purposes. Fee $12.50.1

A person may propagate and sell certain native species of captive bred amphibians and reptiles with a Permit to Propagate and Sell Certain Wildlife or a Permit to Hold and Sell Certain Wildlife.2

Birds and animals raised under a permit for propagation purposes must be confined in a sanitary, escape-proof enclosure; such enclosure shall be open to inspection.3

1VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-568

24 VA. ADMIN. CODE § 15-360-50

34 VA. ADMIN. CODE § 15-290-50


A person may hold, possess and propagate the following wildlife for scientific research or for display by zoos or aquariums with a valid permit: Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk, Mule deer, Black-tailed deer, White-tailed deer, moose and caribou.

WASH. ADMIN. CODE § 232-12-064

West Virginia

A person may obtain a license for the operation of a private plant, pond or business for the propagation of fish, frogs, turtles and other forms of aquatic life for commercial purposes. Annual Fee $10.00.

W. VA. CODE § 20-2-48


No Statutes or Regulations.


No Statutes or Regulations.