top of page

Want an exotic pet? Here's what's legal in Indiana

A serval is a wild cat native to Africa. Photo by gvgoebel

OK, so maybe a kitty or dog or fish isn't the pet for you. Perhaps something more exotic would make you a happy pet parent.

In Indiana, there are several type of odd but interesting animals that can be owned by humans. How about a monkey or a capybara? A what?

Check out this story from and find out which exotic pets can be in Hoosier homes:

By Melissa A. Smith

Indiana is a state that is simultaneously known for having very strict laws on exotic pet ownership and allowing residents to own nearly any animal. This seemingly contradictory information is due to the state’s Department of Natural Resources having had past requirements that most owners of exotic pets obtain possession permits.

What separates Indiana from other states that require a permit or license to own an exotic animal is that the DNR would actually give permits to pet owners. This means that while other states technically issue permits, meeting the criteria to get one is extremely difficult, nearly impossible, or in most cases, these exemptions aren’t even considered for "regular" pet owners; instead, only exhibitors, educational and scientific facilities, and "legitimate" wildlife sanctuaries are eligible. This would effectively make permit-only animals banned in those states.

Indiana however, like Florida, is unique in that permits are issued for any reason as long as the applicant can meet the requirements. Some requirements for a permit to possess any class of animal include:

The capybara is a giant cavy rodent native to South America. Photo by Udo Schroter

  • A $10 application fee

  • The animal must be obtained legally, and this includes out of state.

  • Veterinarian confirmation of the animal’s health

  • Inspection of the facility by a conservation officer

  • A statement on what species is being kept and the location of where it would be possessed

  • A re-capture plan and possession of any of the necessary equipment to carry out that plan

Some exotic pets that can be owned in Indiana include: squirrels, servals, venomous snakes, wolves, skunks, arctic foxes, deer, monkeys, dwarf caimans and capybaras.


bottom of page