What Are Ferret Legal States All Around The World?


Where are ferrets legal?

Are ferrets legal in California?

Ferret legality is a complicated question and I answered it in this post. Here you can learn what states are ferrets illegal in so you can easily recognize ferret legal states all around the world. The biggest question here is probably the ferret legal California question so continue reading to know more about their legality in many states on different continents and reasons why would a country make ferrets illegal animals.

Are Ferrets Legal Or Not?

Depending on where you are from. You can have a ferret in the majority of countries around the world.

In some of them, they are considered great pets and they are very popular. In the others, they are considered exotic animals and you have to have a permit for keeping a ferret.

But, there are countries where ferrets are completely banned and you can’t even think about having a pet ferret.

Ferret Legality Changes

Every year this list of ferret legal states can change. If you are considering getting a ferret, investigate the law and order of your state and city (especially in the USA because you’ll never know what states or even cities are ferrets legal in).

Ferret Legality Changes

There are some differences between state and city laws. If you are in a state where they are legal, it doesn’t have to mean there aren’t any requirements for owning ferrets you have to meet. This can be really tricky.

Why Are Ferrets Illegal?

Ferrets are illegal because there are laws in countries that are more than a hundred years old. Those out-of-date laws are preventing many ferret enthusiasts to own a ferret, even though the “problem” was fixed many years before.

Sometimes, the problem is not even a real one and you will see that below where I listed the most common reasons for ferret legality issues. So, let’s talk about each and every reason.

REASON 1: Ferrets Aren’t Domesticated

The problem lies in the fact that ferrets were considered pests in countries they came to in the 18th century, like the USA, so when they weren’t needed anymore, they released them in the wild.

The entire domestication issue raises a couple of questions. If ferrets aren’t domesticated, why is there only one feral ferret colony in the world that appeared around 1990?  Why do we have documents dated back to Ancient Greece that mention ferrets?

REASON 2: Ferret Can Make Feral Colony

Ferrets are around us for more than 2,500 years. They came from European polecats and they are domesticated mainly for hunting purposes. With that in mind, ferrets spread from Europe to the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and every other part of the world. The only place in the world where a feral ferret colony exists is in New Zealand. Why? Ferrets there don’t have a natural enemy to eat them, the climate suits them and there are many small animals (rodents and birds) for them to hunt.

Why isn’t there any other place in the world with wild ferrets? Remember, we aren’t talking about polecats, we are talking about ferrets. Well, because in Australia there are dingos, foxes, and feral cats that hunt them. The USA is full of big predators that would eat them. Also, in those countries, the weather is not that mild so if there weren’t any predators, the climate wouldn’t allow feral ferret colonies to survive. Ferrets are actually very sensitive and hot weather can easily kill them. Ferrets can’t sweat so hearing about fatal ferret heatstroke is not that surprising.

If you are interested in the rich ferret history around us, read my post about the 2,500-old history of ferrets.

REASON 4: Ferrets Are Aggressive And Attack People

There is no way a well-mannered ferret would attack a human being for several reasons. First, ferrets are around humans for thousands of years so they are used to us. Second, the only way a small ferret would attack you is if he feels threatened. Even then, his first defense would be dropping “smelly bombs” if a ferret isn’t descented. If you want to know more about descenting, read my post here.

Ferrets Are Aggressive And Attack People

Yes, ferrets bite, but so do cats and dogs and their bites can cause a serious injury, even kill. How many times did you hear about a dog’s attack and how many about a ferret’s? Just like other pets, you can teach a ferret not to bite, they are very cooperative animals. The only way to have an aggressive ferret is to have an abused ferret.

REASON 4: Ferrets Can Carry Rabies

Ferrets don’t carry rabies. Ferret in rabies is actually very rare. They are mostly indoor animals so they don’t wander around as cats and dogs do. The chance that a rabies-infected animal bites your ferret is minimal, but it is not impossible. It can happen if your ferret escapes. If a ferret has rabies, there is a high chance he will die before he becomes infectious.

Where Are Ferrets Illegal?

Now that we established the most common reasons for their ban, let’s see what are ferret legal states and vice versa. I made a list of countries that considers ferrets illegal animals. It is easier to highlight them since the number is smaller. I’ve divided them by continents and I explained why and how can you have ferrets there.




If you asked yourself are ferrets legal in California, prepare for disappointment. In California, you can’t sell, import, transport, or keep a ferret as a pet unless you have the permit from the California Department of Fish and Game. This means they are still treated as exotic/wild animals. People from California Natural Resources Agency said that California is a good place for ferrets to establish a feral colony. That presents a threat to native species.

ferret legal in californiaPhoto Source: ocregister.com

The thing is, ferrets really can’t survive on their own in the wild, especially because most of them are kibble-fed. So, that is really a long shot. Also, most ferrets are spayed and neutered so they can’t breed. This “ferret legal in California” issue is very complicated and if you want to learn more about it, read my post on why are ferrets illegal in California.


Hawaii is the only state that is officially rabies-free and they want to stay that way. That is the reason why Hawaii isn’t one of the states where ferrets are legal. They have extremely strict quarantine laws and if you are caught with a ferret, the penalty is huge. But, if you have a ferret you can turn him over without any penalty.

ferret legality in hawaii

So, one of the reasons is because “ferrets can carry rabies” and another is the same as California’s. If they escape they can “make a feral colony and disturb nature” in Hawaii. The reason why this is bothering me is that almost every ferret you can get is neutered or spayed (unless you are breeding them) and they can’t make babies hence they can’t make a colony anywhere.


Ferrets are legal in New York state but in 1999 ferrets were banned in NYC by the New York City Department of Health in 5 boroughs – Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, and Brooklyn. They were banned because they are unpredictable, vicious, and are prone to attack humans for no reason.

ferrets illegal in New York City

Also, this one is a really interesting fact about ferrets if you didn’t know: they can escape in holes in the wall of the building, entering someone’s apartment and hurt them. This nonsense makes it look like it’s like their only mission is to hurt humans.


New Zealand is probably the only place in the world that can ban ferrets due to regular reasons. It all began a couple of hundred years ago, around 1860 when people imported rabbits to New Zealand. Since rabbits didn’t have any natural enemies on that ground they started to breed really fast. About 20 years later, humans brought ferrets to New Zealand to control rabbits. The climate in New Zealand is great for ferrets and they don’t have a natural enemy there (like rabbits).

new zealand rabbit ferret ban

So, ferrets made feral colonies in New Zealand (that is the only place in the world where you can find wild ferrets). Ferrets started to feed themselves on birds from that area and they indirectly influenced nature by hunting those birds.

Since that happened there, everyone is afraid that it will happen again. But that happened a few centuries ago and today ferrets are kept as pets, not as hunters so that is a difference. Today, New Zealand made ferrets legal, but it is illegal to sell, buy, or breed ferrets. Meaning, if you have a ferret, he is legal, but you can’t get another one.



Ferrets are illegal in Queensland due to similar reasons as in New Zealand. The difference between New Zealand and Australia is that Australia has a hot climate which isn’t good for ferrets and there are predators that can feed on ferrets like foxes and dingos.

Australia has problems with feral cats and dogs and there are feral ferret colonies in New Zealand (which is near them) so they are afraid which makes ferret enthusiasts angry because there is no reason for banning ferrets.


Just like in Queensland, ferrets are completely banned in Northern Territory. The climate in Northern Territory is better than in Queensland but still, it is a long shot for ferrets to make a feral colony there. Interesting thing is that they don’t think that ferrets are aggressive or that they will bite humans. That isn’t the reason for the ban, but they are more concerned about the nature around them.

ferret legality in northern territory


Ferrets aren’t legal in both Western Australia and Tasmania, but you have to prove that your pet is a ferret and not some close relative. Ferrets and only ferrets are legal but other close relatives of ferrets aren’t welcome. Also, you will pay a hefty fine if you release a ferret in the wild.


Ferrets are legal in Victoria, but you have to meet some requirements. For example, you have to neuter or spay your ferret. Also, you can’t have more than XY ferrets in the household. There isn’t the same number in every city. For example, in Mildura Council, one can keep only 4 ferrets on property under 0.5 hectares.

ferret legality in victoria australia


A similar story to the one in Victoria is in New South Wales. In Sydney, for example, one household can only have 2 ferrets and intact males must be kept outside during spring and summer months.


Ferrets are legal there, but when you get a ferret you have to register it and get a license. Also, you have to respect the Animal Welfare Code of Practice to meet all requirements.


Every country in Europe allows having ferrets as pets, which means Europe is a ferret legal territory.


Africa was very unclear, I couldn’t find any information about ferrets in Africa, except for South Africa.


Ferrets aren’t illegal in South Africa, but you have to meet many requirements and permits before getting one. Ferrets are classified as highly invasive species according to the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act5 10 of 2004; Alien and invasive species regulations (NEMBA).


When it comes to Asia I know that ferrets are very popular in Japan and Taiwan but I can’t find any information about other countries.

What Can We Do About Ferret Legal Issue?

There are a few things we can do to change the ferret status around the world. What we must remember is that every action we make is an action for ferrets, not humans. So, we have to keep everything civilized at all times.

Sign A Petition

The first thing you can do no matter where you are is to sign a petition. There are many petitions online and although most of them are connected to ferret legality in California, you can find petitions connected to your city or the country you are in.

Educate Yourself About Ferrets

Knowledge is a powerful tool so use it. Educate yourself about ferrets before you get one so you can provide him a good quality of life. Don’t ever consider releasing a ferret in the wild because most of them can’t survive in the wild no matter the climate or predator issue.


It is a shame that ferrets aren’t legal everywhere because most of the reasons aren’t valid ones. One of the Friendly Ferret goals is to educate people about ferrets and share good ferret influence. We do plan to activate even more to the ferret legality matter in the future. Everybody should be able to experience how it is to have such adorable and energetic pets.

Are Ferrets Legal In Your Country?

If you have any information about ferrets and their legalization in any country please let me know in the comments below or on the email: support@friendlyferret.com because I would love to have an article about the legalization of ferrets that can apply to the entire world. Also, if your country has changed its status on ferret’s legalization or I haven’t mentioned it, please contact me so I can make it right.

We updated the list on 28/01/2021 and we will continue to update it with every new information.

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Anja Delic
Anja is a Friendly Ferret owner and a ferret parent who is involved in the ferret world for more than 10 years. She started her Friendly Ferret blog when she got her first ferret Frida 8 years ago. In 2013, Friendly Ferret was recognized as a great source of information and it has become a good ferret brand for education, products, and fun. Since then, Anja was a part in many ferrets shows as a sponsor and as a judge, and she met many great and interesting people who share the same passion as her - ferrets. Anja is always opened for suggestions and advice, so if you have something to ask or say about ferrets, feel free to contact her on Instagram, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter or support@friendlyferret.com