Ferrets are getting more and more popular in the USA and in the past years, they were on the 3rd place of the most popular pets, right next to dogs and cats. Even though they seem to be very popular in the USA, there are still countries where ferrets are illegal. But, USA isn’t the only state with laws against holding ferrets as pets. Before getting a ferret or moving with one, make sure your chosen country doesn’t have any laws against it.
Laws are voting, removing or debating every year and that is the reason why you should check local laws right before moving with your ferret. If you checked it a few years ago there is a possibility the law has changed until today. So, let’s talk about today’s laws about ferrets.
Where are ferrets illegal?
United States of America
NEW YORK CITY – In New York city ferrets are illegal, but in the rest of the New York state, they are perfectly legal. The law against ferrets was passed in 1999 by New York City Department of Health and the reason for that is outdated – ferrets are considered wild animals. Meaning, they are vicious, evil and dangerous. Ferrets were domesticated 2,500 years ago and they don’t have fear towards humans anymore. Ferrets make good pets who aren’t dangerous to any human if they aren’t mistreated. Just like any abused cat or dog, a ferret can also bite but that is only on defense.
HAWAII – Hawaii is an officially rabies-free state and they got there with very strict quarantine rules. There is a misconception about ferrets, that they carry rabies and that is one of the reasons why ferrets are banned from Hawaii. Actually, ferrets rarely carry rabies, because when they have rabies they die in few days, too short for rabies to spread. More common is for dog or fox to have rabies than a ferret. But, this isn’t the only reason. Since ferrets aren’t native to Hawaii, there are too many birds or small animals which ferret can eat. So, they banned ferrets because if they escape they can develop feral colonies and disturb the nature. This could be a valid reason if ferrets can survive on their own in the wild. Domesticated animals like ferrets can’t survive in the wild for a long time. Especially since ferrets are prone to heat strokes in high temperatures.
CALIFORNIA – California is another state where ferrets aren’t allowed. You can’t sell, buy, breed or just have ferrets as pets. Interestingly enough, ferrets aren’t allowed here becasue they can disturb nature if they escape and make feral colonies, but ferrets rarely survive long enough in the wild to do that. Ferret lovers across the California are trying to make ferrets legal for many years and there is a site dedicated to legalizing ferrets where you can sign a petition for their legalization.
The only country that can ban ferrets due to the possibility of having feral colonies is New Zealand. Around 1800th people imported rabbits and they spread out of control. A few years laters they imported ferrets to decrease the number of rabbits. Those days ferrets were used for hunting and everything they did was the hunt. So, humans let ferrets on the territory of New Zealand and ferrets started to hunt rabbits. The only problem was that ferrets changed their mind and started hunting birds native to New Zealand. The climate in New Zealand was perfect for them and the fact that they are on top of the food chain (without other predators) helped ferrets make feral colonies. So, the only place on Earth where ferrets have feral colonies is New Zealand. Today, if you have a ferret, you can keep it, but you can’t buy another ferret, it is not allowed to sell or breed them.
QUEENSLAND -Ferrets are illegal in Queensland and the reason for that is that ferrets can have feral colonies there. We can see the impact of New Zealand here, but Queensland is in the better position that New Zealand. For example, the climate in Queensland is way hotter than the one in New Zealand and ferrets can’t sweat, meaning in hot temperatures they can have a heat stroke which can be fatal. In Queensland ferrets aren’t on the top of the food chain, there are predators which will feed on ferrets like dingos.
NORTHERN TERRITORY – Northern territory has the same reason to ban ferrets like Queensland. People there don’t think that ferrets are dangerous or too aggressive, they are more concerned with the flora and fauna around them. But, just like in Queensland, there is a small chance that ferrets will develop feral colonies there.
There are other countries where ferrets aren’t 100% illegal, but you have to meet some requirements to own a ferret. For example, in Victoria and New South Wales, there is an allowed number of ferrets in the household. In other countries, you have to acquire a permit to own a ferret and it has to be spayed or neutered.
Anja is a blogger and ferret lover with website Friendly Ferret. Her goal is to educate people who want to learn more about ferrets as pets with useful tips and tricks. She writes about her two ferrets, Frida and Yoda on her blog.