Moving to Hawaii – Prohibited Animals and Pets that are Illegal to Own

So, you’re thinking of buying an exotic animal, or you are moving to Hawaii and want to bring your ferrets…which pets are legal?

Don’t let your loved ones get locked up…know the law!

Hawaii’s exotic animals laws and quarantine regulations are designed to protect and preserve our native plant and animal life. For a comprehensive list of restricted species and conditionally approved ones, visit this link to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. (They regulate all non-domesticated animals.)

The following are some of the more commonly owned non-domestic animals that are prohibited:

  • alligators
  • dragon lizards
  • ferrets
  • gerbils
  • geckos
  • hamsters
  • monk parakeets
  • piranhas
  • snakes
  • snapping turtles
  • toucans

For dogs and cats, refer to my earlier post about Hawaii’s Animal Quarantine and Rabies Laws. Cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, and horses are the other domesticated animals that are common to Hawaii, and they have varying degrees of identification and permitting required for importation. (Refer to this link.)

Feel free to post your experiences with controlled animals here for discussion…Mahalo!


11 Responses to “Moving to Hawaii – Prohibited Animals and Pets that are Illegal to Own”

  1. Beth Robinson R(B)
    January 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Thanks for the informative information, Ron. By the way, I have information for anyone interested in shipping their horses to Hawaii!

  2. Jonna Bether
    May 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Are sloths legal there?

  3. Chandler Cameron
    June 25, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Is there a way to obtain a permit for a snake or a lizard? I am being stationed in Hawaii but want to keep my pets

    • Meghan
      August 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

      I would love to know that also. I have ball pythons and bearded dragons. I would love to move back to the island. But not at the cost of my pets.

      • Beth Thoma Robinson
        August 8, 2016 at 10:18 am #

        Sorry, the rules are absolute.

      January 10, 2017 at 9:36 am #

      You cannot own a snake in Hawaii because the snakes if kept as pet would become an invasive species there and eat the endangered birds. As for the lizards, as long as you get a lizard that is not on the list above, and does not eat birds your fine. What most peaple in Hawaii do is catch a wild gecko and keep it in a big giant cage outdoors. This is a good starter pet for children.

  4. Christopher
    June 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm #


    I’ve been in the processing of moving back to Hawaii – especially Honolulu. I’ve always wanted either a cute ringed-tail lempur or a cute ferret as a pet, but I understand that having a ferret as a pet in Hawaii is illegal. How about a ringed-lempur? Of course, it would need to stay indoor as required by me, so that he or she wouldn’t expose to the native animals, plants, and environment there. If illegally. why is that? The USA, including Hawaii is a free country which means I can have a ringed-tail lempur as a pet anywhere, including Hawaii. They only eat fruits and vegetables where I can buy them at a grocery store. I WON’T bring any animal shown above to Hawaii. A ringed-tail lempur is very cute and cuddly. Well, I hope I can have it there one day. Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Mahalo!

  5. William Ford
    January 23, 2017 at 11:19 am #

    My family & I are planning to move to Hawaii here in the near future, is there anyway to get permits or something for ownership of certain reptiles? & Does every island have the same list of illegal pets?

    • Beth Thoma Robinson
      January 23, 2017 at 11:30 am #

      The list is state-wide, and no there are no permits. Sorry.

  6. rtc
    February 16, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    Coolest thing to own here are Axolotls. The ones at the local stores aren’t great, just your basic Wild type and Albino. But you are able to purchase a permit. I got 2 of mine shipped in


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