Published on December 5, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023
There is something wonderful about owning a pet. Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to a cute creature and enjoying its company. The most common of our pets are, of course, cats and dogs. However, there are some people who prefer something unique or unusual, and opossums are one of the options they consider.
While the idea of owning an opossum can be exciting, it is essential to know if it’s even legal to own them. Join us here in Floofmania in finding out more about this!
Do I Need A Permit To Own An Opossum?
Table of Contents
- 1 Do I Need A Permit To Own An Opossum?
- 2 US States Where Opossums Are Legal Pets
- 3 US States Where Opossums Are Illegal As Pets
- 4 Are Opossums Legal Pets In Canada?
- 5 Are Opossums Legal Pets In Australia?
- 6 Are Opossums Legal Pets In Europe?
- 7 Why Aren’t Opossums Legal Pets Everywhere?
- 8 Author
Owning a pet is a responsibility, and that responsibility is even greater if the animal you’re planning to own is wildlife. As such, states set certain laws and policies that allow, restrict, or prohibit different animals and standardize conditions that must be met when owning wildlife.
Usually attached to these laws are provisions for securing permits. Issuing permits is the state’s way of ensuring that you are qualified and have the capacity to own an opossum.
Certifications or permits to own an opossum depend on the state where you live. There are states that allow opossum ownership without permits, like Arkansas, Wyoming, and Wisconsin.
However, states like Oregon, North Dakota, and Nebraska are strict with their laws, requiring interested owners to secure licenses, import permits, and captive wildlife permits.
Warning! Never ever dare to fake your permits, folks. You don’t want to get into trouble, right?
US States Where Opossums Are Legal Pets
Every state in the US has the right to decide its own laws, including what pets are allowed to be kept. In the US, 18 states allow people to own opossums as pets.
If you’re from Alabama and are greatly interested in owning an opossum, then you’re in luck.
The Alabaman government allows interested owners to possess any native animal that isn’t included in its prohibited list.
Fortunately, opossums aren’t on that list, so it’s legal to own them as pets in this state. Alabama’s government also doesn’t require you to secure a permit for opossum ownership but may still impose some regulations like a veterinary certificate that proves that the animal is healthy and can be taken into private possession.
If you live in Arkansas, owning an opossum as a pet is legal and allowed even without securing any permits. Only large carnivores like lions, tigers, and bears are prohibited from personal possession.
Specifically, concerning opossums, you can have up to six of them in your household without needing a permit.
Luckily, state laws concerning animal ownership are not extremely strict in Delaware. No specific animals are banned, so you can legally own an opossum as a pet.
However, it is important to secure a permit from the government prior to bringing and caring for them at your home. The permit must be obtained from the state veterinarian. For the steps and requirements for obtaining this permit, refer to this.
Florida has an interesting case for the possession of wildlife. In this state, wildlife is divided into three classes, with each class having different permit requirements. The easiest permit to obtain is for Class III animals.
Fortunately, an opossum belongs to Class III, so you can legally own them as long as you secure the necessary permit. The permit can be obtained from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You may refer to this link for the requirements and steps for getting a license or permit.
Unlike other states, Indiana does not specifically forbid owning wildlife as pets, so it’s legal to own an opossum. This state is actually very lenient when it comes to wildlife ownership.
However, to ensure the safety of people, animals, and the environment, securing a permit is necessary before you can own an opossum or any other wildlife.
Like in Florida, wild animals here are divided into three classes. Opossums belong to Class II, so obtaining the permit is not that hard. You just have to fill out an application form and pay the amount set by Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources.
Michigan’s laws state that ownership of wild or exotic animals that aren’t members of the Felidae family, hybrids, wolf-hybrids, and bear species are allowed, but a prior entry permit must be obtained.
Thus, it is legal to own an opossum in this state. However, obtaining the permit necessitates following strict procedures, which include having the opossum examined by an accredited veterinarian.
Having an opossum as a pet is allowed in Missouri as long as you have a Wildlife Hobby Permit. This permit establishes a rule that the opossums you possess should only be for personal companionship and can’t be engaged in professional activities such as breeding or be put up for sale.
Opossums can be legally kept as pets in Nebraska, but only when you obtain a Captive Wildlife Permit. This permit helps ensure that the opossums you own will only be for personal use.
Owning opossums as pets is generally allowed in North Dakota as long as you obtain a license and import permit (see page 4). This helps the states regulate ownership.
Similar to North Dakota, it is also legal to have a pet opossum in Oklahoma. Of course, the condition is clear: you must secure a permit from the government. Specifically, you need to apply for a non-commercial breeder permit in order to own legally raise and even breed an opossum.
Another lenient state when it comes to wildlife ownership is South Dakota. Possession of opossums as pets is guaranteed here as long as you can secure a permit. For owning pets, you should obtain a possession permit with a required fee of $10 to $100 dollars.
But before the permit is released, veterinarians must be able to examine the opossums to make sure that they are free of any infectious, communicable, and epidemic diseases. Opossums are of particular concern because they might carry zoonotic diseases.
In Tennessee, legally owning a pet opossum is fairly easy. Similar to those of Indiana and Florida, animals here are grouped into classes. Opossums belong to Class III, which means that possessing them does not require any special permits.
The Texas government provides a specific list of animals banned from possession and animals that must be registered for ownership.
Fortunately, opossums aren’t included in either of these two lists. This means that it can be legally owned without a permit. However, you’re not allowed to own more than six of them.
There is no specific prohibition in Virginia against owning exotic or wild animals. This allows the ownership of opossums as pets. The only challenge will be securing the permit because processing it might be quite difficult.
Wisconsin belongs to the short list of states that allow ownership of opossums as pets. It’s also relatively easy to have pet opossums here, as no special permit is required to keep them.
Last but definitely not least on the list of states where it is legal to own an opossum is Wyoming.
Like in Wisconsin, you may take an opossum from the wild and keep it as a pet without a permit as long as it is well secured.
US States Where Opossums Are Illegal As Pets
The majority of US states prohibit the possession of opossums as pets. Opossums can pose threats to humans as they carry germs that cause infection and diseases to humans. Of course, with the possible risks and the danger it poses, states are extra cautious.
According to Alaska’s state laws, possessing an opossum as a pet is prohibited. The Alaska Admin Code Title 5 clearly states that no person shall possess, import, or export any live game animals.
Live game animals are any species of reptiles, birds, and mammals that are not domesticated. Unfortunately, an opossum is classified as a live game species.
Unfortunately, owning opossums as pets in Arizona is prohibited. This was explicitly stated in Arizona’s Administrative Code, which provides an extensive list of wild animals that are not allowed to be owned, including the opossum.
However, special permits can be issued for owning opossums if they fall under the following categories:
- The opossums will be used for educational purposes, including the advancement of science.
- The opossums were earlier fostered and are unable to return to the wild.
- The opossums were previously possessed under a different special license.
- The opossums will be used for the promotion of public health and welfare.
- The opossums will be photographed for commercial purposes.
- The opossums will be needed for wildlife management.
California laws ban private ownership of wild animals unless they were acquired prior to January 1992. With an average lifespan of 2-3 years, this means that no opossums can be held legally in Cornia anymore.
The list of prohibited animals is lengthy, ranging from primates to reptiles, insectivores, and marsupials. Since opossums are marsupials native to America, possessing them as pets in California is unfortunately illegal.
Just like in California, owning an opossum in Colorado is also illegal. The state has enacted laws that prohibit the possession of most exotic species, and the only exemption is if they will be used for commercial purposes.
Opossums as pets are illegal in Connecticut, as they are in neighboring states.
Since only ferrets, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, degus, and primates below 35 pounds that were possessed before October 2010 are the only wildlife allowed as pets in Connecticut, you just have to make do with opossums occasionally visiting your backyard.
Georgia’s laws prohibit the possession of inherently dangerous animals as pets.
In their classifications, these inherently dangerous animals include marsupials, primates, proboscideans, reptiles, and carnivores like felines and canines. With marsupials being included in this list, opossums are therefore prohibited from being owned as pets in this state.
Hawaii prohibits most exotic animals as pets, including opossums. Their laws are strict, and only domesticated mice and rats, guinea pigs, parakeets, doves, and chinchillas are allowed for private ownership.
Opossums are not allowed to be possessed as pets in Idaho unless Idaho’s Department of Agriculture gives special permission. Opossums are prohibited as they are classified as “deleterious exotic animals.”
Deleterious exotic animals are animals that are not native to Idaho, and the state identifies them as threats to the environment, livestock, agriculture, and wildlife.
Like most states, Illinois also bans the ownership of opossums as pets because they are classified as dangerous animals. They can be possessed only if given special permission by the Illinois government. But that special permit can only be granted if:
- The opossum is in an escape-proof enclosure at zoological parks.
- The opossum will be showcased in a federally licensed exhibit.
- The opossum is properly maintained and will be studied at a college, university, or scientific institution.
You may contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for information on securing this special permit.
Because opossums are classified as nongame quadruped in this state, they cannot be possessed as pets. Only authorized nongame quadruped breeders or exhibitors with licenses can possess them but again, strictly for exhibitions and not as a pet.
Maine has one of the strictest laws on wildlife possession in the United States. It has a lengthy list of animals restricted from pet ownership. Opossums are included there.
The Montana government provides an extensive list of exotic wildlife that are prohibited to be owned as pets. This list unfortunately includes opossums, so possessing them to be pets is allowed in this state.
The lengthy list of animals prohibited as pets in this state includes opossums. It is illegal to own them unless you are an exhibitor and you secure a permit.
Opossums in Oregon are generally prohibited. They can’t be kept as pets. There are only special instances when Oregon’s government can allow their possession, importation, sale, purchase, and exchange through a Prohibited Species Permit.
Another state that prohibits pet ownership of opossums is Rhode Island. No one can possess them for personal use, and only zoo owners and administrators, researchers, and other approved persons and groups may be given special permits to keep them.
As per Vermont’s state laws, it can only be legal to own an opossum if it will be used for exhibitions or other educational and scientific purposes. In other words, not strictly as a pet. Of course, they can be possessed once you comply with their conditions and secure a permit.
Are Opossums Legal In Other States In The US?
You might have noticed that there are US states that are not mentioned above.
While states like the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, and a few others have their own lists of prohibited and allowed pet possession animals, the lists usually forget to mention opossums.
This is understandable because it might be hard to account for all the wildlife existing in each state.
If you’re still interested in owning a pet opossum and your state is one of those that are not mentioned above, it’s better to personally check and ask your local wildlife authorities to make sure.
Are Opossums Legal Pets In Canada?
Knowing whether it is legal to own an opossum as a pet in Canada is quite tricky. At a broader level, federal law does not have provisions that directly cover ownership of exotic animals like opossums.
Most legislation, like the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act is more focused on the importation, exportation, and transport regulations concerning exotic animals.
The existence of varying laws regarding exotic pets within different provinces of Canada makes this more confusing. For instance, in British Columbia, the Wildlife Act explicitly has restrictions on non-native, native, and exotic pets that might pose risks.
On the other hand, Alberta’s Wildlife Act is much more lenient, allowing possession of wildlife or controlled animals with permits.
To be sure, you can directly ask your local government or wildlife bureaus before trying to get a pet opossum.
Are Opossums Legal Pets In Australia?
Just like in other states and countries, Australia does not have laws explicitly stating the legality of owning opossums as pets. However, with Australia prohibiting the import and ownership of non-native animals, we can assume that this applies to opossums, as they are not native to Australia.
Are Opossums Legal Pets In Europe?
The legality of owning opossums as pets in Europe depends on the country and the laws it has in place.
Fortunately, the UK’s laws allow people to own opossums. However, because they are already considered wild and exotic animals, you must apply for a license from your local council to keep them.
Like in the UK, you can more likely own an opossum as a pet since ownership of almost every type of animal is allowed. Of course, you have to meet certain legal conditions and secure a legal document called ‘certificat de capacité.’
It is hard to tell whether Germany allows pet ownership of opossums because there is no law explicitly stating it. However, since opossums are excluded from the list of animals that can be kept as pets, it is less likely that Germany will legally allow people to own opossums.
Fact: Did you know that opossums have remarkable memories? Yes, you're reading that right! Many might perceive them as dumb, but according to studies, these cute creatures are better at remembering than cats, rabbits, rats, and even dogs. They can better remember where to find food and can remember smells even months after they last encountered them.
Why Aren’t Opossums Legal Pets Everywhere?
The answer is simple: opossums do not make ideal pets.
While you might train opossums to adapt to domestic living starting from infancy, these animals will have more of a tendency to later exhibit their wildlife instincts. They are also solitary creatures, so they prefer to be left alone.
Aside from that, opossums can also pose a serious threat to the environment and your health. They might also run the risk of becoming an invasive species. Invasive species are animals that are not native to a particular area. They can cause economic and environmental harm in areas where they are newly introduced. Oftentimes, they aggressively compete for food with local species. They also carry a number of infectious diseases.
Given these facts, it is not surprising that many states oppose legalizing exotic animal pet ownership, such as opossums.
Author: Clarisse Jane Javier
Hello, there! I’m CJ, and I’ve been writing since primary school. I love to write about a variety of topics, from pets to the arts. I have had an endless fascination for animals since I was a kid. Until today, I always looked forward to learning more about the diverse species we have on Earth.