Ohio Exotic Pet Law Changes

Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act

Common woolly monkeys
Woolly monkeys Filippo Manaresi / Getty Images

After the Ohio exotic pet massacre that occurred in Zanesville, Ohio on October 19th, 2011, the country, and possibly the rest of the world, was shocked to learn that Ohio had no laws restricting most exotic pets. After the incident, individuals and organizations pressured the state government to change laws to keep people and animals safer. Now, almost an entire year later, Ohio officially has laws in place to restrict residents from owning dangerous animals as pets.

The New Law

Ohio used to only require permits for native species such as raccoons and skunks but as of September 5th, 2012, the state now prohibits:

  • Auction sales of dangerous wild animals and venomous snakes (You shouldn't be able to get these animals at the Mt. Hope Auction anymore)
  • Removing a microchip from a dangerous wild animal on purpose
  • Letting your dangerous wild animal or venomous snake to leave the property it is confined in without proper restraint (It is illegal if your pet lion escapes and terrorizes the city)
  • Declawing and removing any teeth from the restricted animals (I am unsure if this includes medically necessary extractions of diseased teeth)
  • Display proper signage
  • Releasing a restricted snake or dangerous wild animal into the wild on purpose

Restricted Animals

The following restricted species include all hybrids (even with domestic animals) unless specifically excluded.

  • Hyenas
  • Gray wolves (excluding hybrids)
  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Jaguars
  • Leopards, including clouded leopards, Sunda clouded leopards, and snow leopards
  • Cheetahs
  • Lynxes, including Canadian lynxes, Eurasian lynxes, and Iberian lynxes
  • Cougars (i.e., pumas and mountain lions)
  • Caracals
  • Servals (excluding hybrids with domestic cats commonly known as Savannah cats)
  • Bears
  • Elephants
  • Rhinoceroses
  • Hippopotamuses
  • Cape buffaloes
  • African wild dogs
  • Komodo dragons
  • Alligators
  • Crocodiles
  • Caimans (excluding dwarf caimans)
  • Gharials
  • Golden lion, black-faced lion, golden-rumped lion, cotton-top, emperor, saddlebacked, black-mantled, and Geoffroy's tamarins
  • Southern and northern night monkeys
  • Dusky titi and masked titi monkeys
  • Muriquis
  • Goeldi's monkeys
  • White-faced, black-bearded, white-nose bearded, and monk sakis
  • Bald and black uakaris
  • Black-handed, white-bellied, brown-headed, and black spider monkeys
  • Common woolly monkeys
  • Red, black, and mantled howler monkeys
Close-Up Of Leptailurus Serval On Field
Leptailurus Serval Stephanie Starr / EyeEm / Getty Images

The following snakes are restricted if venomous or twelve feet or longer.

  • Green anacondas
  • Yellow anacondas
  • Reticulated pythons
  • Indian pythons
  • Burmese pythons
  • North African rock pythons
  • South African rock pythons
  • Amethystine pythons
  • Atractaspididae
  • Elapidae
  • Viperidae
  • Boomslang snakes
  • Twig snakes
Portrait of Burmese Python
Burmese python Achim Mittler, Frankfurt am Main / Getty Images

If you currently own an animal on this list be sure to have them microchipped and registered with the state. You must apply for one of the following permits.

The Permits

There are five types of permits under the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act that owners of the restricted animals can obtain.

  • Wildlife Shelter Permit - This permit is for an owner of a dangerous wild animal that does not intend to breed their pet or get a new one. Depending on what kind of animals you are applying to own, the application fee will vary between $250 and $1,000 plus $125 for every animal over 15 animals. You must also show proof of liability insurance or a surety bond of $200,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the pet you have or want.
  • Wildlife Propagation Permit - If an owner intends to breed their animals for the purpose of a species survival program and no other reason and they don't plan on getting new animals they must apply for this permit. The application fee is between $1,000 and $3,000 and liability insurance or a surety bond of $200,000 to $1,000,000 is required.
  • Restricted Snake Possession Permit - This permit is for a snake that is listed under the restricted snake species and for an owner that isn't going to breed, sell, or trade the animal. It costs $150 to apply for the permit and you need $100,000 to $500,000 of liability insurance or a surety bond. You must also take full financial responsibility if you own an Atractaspididae, Elapidae, Viperidae, Boomslang snake, or Twig snake species.
  • Restricted Snake Propagation Permit - This permit is for the same snakes as the Possession Permit but the application fee is $300 and it is for an owner who wants to breed, sell, or trade their snakes.
  • Rescue Facility Permit - This permit is for designated rescue facilities that provide care for the lifetime of unwanted, orphaned, abused, neglected, impounded, or abandoned dangerous wild animals. The application fee is $500 to $2,000 and the facilities are prohibited from purchasing animals, selling or trading animals or their body parts, using the animals in any manner for profit, breeding, or allowing the public to come into contact with the animals.

Exempt People and Facilities

  • AZA and AZAA facilities
  • Specific research facilities
  • USDA Licensed Circuses
  • Veterinarians who are giving temporary care
  • Specific wildlife shelters
  • People traveling through Ohio and not staying longer than 48 hours, who don't exhibit their pets, and do not allow the public to contact them
  • Schools that display a dangerous wild animal as a mascot
  • Specific people and facilities that have specific ODNR permits
  • Owners of service Capuchin monkeys that have been trained by non-profit organizations
  • Specific primates

Other Information

For more information on this law contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Oh, 43068, 855-DWA-OHIO, or 614-728-6220, or animal@agri.ohio.gov.