It may be difficult for animal lovers to understand why certain species of cute and cuddly creatures are not able to be legally owned because owning a pet that no one else has is very tempting. However, any animal that finds itself on the Endangered Species List is off limits for ownership. People expect certain dangerous exotic animals like the Siberian Tiger, for example, to be unavailable for ownership, but there are less obvious creatures that you will find yourself in serious trouble for if you attempt to keep one as a pet.
Since ferrets are a popular pet in North American, you may be surprised to learn that one of the ferret species, the black-footed ferret, native to North America, has been on the endangered species list since 1967 and is therefore illegal to own. Another tempting North American creature for ownership is the pygmy rabbit which, as indicated by his name, is the smallest known species of rabbit in the world. They made the endangered species list in 2001 and there is only one known group of pygmy rabbits living in the United States, located in Washington.
Australia, as a result of its geographic isolation, is home to many exotic animals. Sadly, many of these amazing creatures are also endangered and not available as pets. This includes the adorably small creatures such as the Northern Hairy-nosed wombat, The Shark Bay mouse, The Central Rock rat, and The Eastern Jerboa marsupial.
However, fuzzy and lovable creatures are not the only animals on the endangered list that cannot be pets. Many animal lovers enjoy keeping reptiles as pets, but there are a lot of reptiles that are also barred from ownership. For example, these endangered reptiles should never be found in a pet shop: the Monito Gecko, Virgin Islands Tree Boa, Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard, Plymouth Red-bellied Turtle, Indian Python, Three-keeled Asian Turtle, Roque Chico de Salmor Giant Lizard, and American Crocodile.
There are even quite a few species of fish that should never end up in your aquarium. Unique, scaley friends that have made the endangered species list are the Rainbow Parrotfish, Ala Balik, Devil’s Hole Pupfish, Tidewater Goby, Steelhead, Pallid Sturgeon, and Nevada Pupfish. These are small fish that are still fighting to maintain numbers that will prevent their extinction. Many of them do not appear particularly exotic so it may be difficult to determine that they are, in fact, on the endangered species list. This is why it is important to exercise extreme caution when considering a pet for purchase.
If you truly love creatures of all kinds, it is understandable that you would want to care for one or more by keeping them as a pet. However, you should educate yourself about the species that are illegal for ownership so that you can spot trouble when you are at a pet shop or talking to someone who wants to sell you your next best friend. It can be tempting to want to own an exotic animal that not many people will have ever seen, let alone own, but they are protected for a good reason. Respecting the endangered species list means that those animals will have a chance to thrive.
Since many endangered species look unassuming, it can be difficult to determine if a fish, reptile, or small mammal you are looking at is on the list. Be sure to ask a lot of questions of the individual selling the animal and ask them the name of the species. Then, do your research before you purchase. Look up the species on the internet and make sure the pictures you see look like the animal being sold. After you confirm the species of the fish, reptile, or small mammal, confirm that they are not on the endangered species list. Never conduct business with individuals who lie about their animals and report them to the proper authorities if you discover they have done so.
With educated animal enthusiasts aware of the rules regarding endangered species, we can do more to protect the most fragile of our slimy, scaly, feathered, and furry friends!