Like cats, nobody really owns a ferret – they own you. But the question is, can you legally own a ferret in your city, state, or country? The answer to that question is varied, depending on where you live – and it is vital that you find out whether or not it is allowed before you adopt a ferret and form an attachment. It is very stressful for a ferret when they are taken away from someone that they have come to love.
Ferrets are legal in the United States, except in Hawaii and California, and some cities, such as New York City and Washington, DC. Other cities also have ordinances against ferrets, while some cities allow them, but require you to purchase a permit.
Ferrets may not be imported into Australia, or even bred in Australia – yet they are allowed in Queensland and the Northern Territory. You may own a ferret in Victoria, as long as you have a license to do so. In Australia, the question becomes ‘how do I get a ferret?’
You may not sell, breed, distribute, or own a ferret in New Zealand or Iceland. In Portugal, however, you may have a ferret, but not as a pet. You may own a ferret, however, and use it for hunting, as long as you have a permit issued by the government. Ferrets are very welcome – and popular – in Brazil. However they are required to have a microchip identification tag and they must be spayed or neutered.
If there is an animal shelter in your area, phone them to inquire whether it is legal to own a ferret or not. You can also phone the City Clerk in most areas to get this information, and to inquire about where and how you get a permit, if one is required, how much it will cost, and how often the permit must be renewed. You can also obtain information from the Department of Fish and Game for your area.
Most places that have a ban against ferrets have that ban because of misinformation – believing that ferrets are wild animals or that they carry rabies. Ferret lovers around the world are working to change the minds and hearts of city officials everywhere.
If for some reason there is nothing specifically mentioned in the legal code for your town or county concerning ferrets, this means that owning a ferret is legal, by default, and you have nothing to worry about. Most cities that have laws that concern ferrets are typically concerned with making sure that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies, which you were going to do anyway, as a responsible pet owner.
Note that while it is legal to own ferrets in many places, this does not mean that it is legal to sell them, or to breed them in those places. It is important that you ask these questions of your city clerk before you accidentally break the law – and the hearts of your ferrets.