Keeping Georgia Wildlife as Pets

A Guide to Legal Pets

You've just found the most cuddly, friendly squirrel in your backyard. Wouldn't it make a great pet? Or, perhaps you think an exotic animal like a monkey would make a good companion. However, you should consider many factors before turning a wild animal into a pet.

  • Most native wildlife and many exotic animals may not legally be kept as pets in Georgia.
  • Young animals undergo dramatic behavioral changes as they mature. They become very aggressive and try to escape, and returning such an animal to the wild will usually result in its death.
  • The dietary needs of most wild animals are different from common domestic pets. Many exotic pets suffer from malnutrition because of their special needs, resulting in a constant state of bad health or death.
  • Many wild animals are most active at night. This normal behavior can be very disruptive when you are trying to sleep.
  • Many diseases which affect people can be carried by healthy animals. Some examples of diseases transmissible to people (i.e. zoonoses)¬†include rabies, tularemia, plague, salmonellosis, and others. Vaccines against these diseases are not approved for use in wild animals.
  • Some animals are very long lived and require extensive care. Monkeys can live more than 40 years. Who would care for the animal should something happen to you?
  • Veterinarians may be unfamiliar with diseases of wildlife or exotic pets. Typically, veterinarians are unwilling to treat animals held illegally for liability reasons.
Ask Yourself:
  • Is what I am doing legal?
  • Am I willing to risk the health, and possibly the life, of myself and my family?
  • Am I willing to risk destroying the animal?
  • Am I willing to change my lifestyle to conform to the animals natural and unalterable behavior?

If you cannot truthfully answer "yes" to each question, do not attempt to keep a wild animal as a pet.


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