If you've been thinking about getting an exotic pet as a resident of Washington State - or are thinking about moving to Washington with an exotic pet you already own - it can be hard to find information on the internet about what is legal. Many guides showcase the animals you can't own in Washington - but what about the ones you can own?

Why it's hard to find out what exotic pets are legal in WA

Some states (for example, California) have a more "inclusionary" language when it comes to the laws around owning or caring for animals - meaning that they list which species are allowed under the law.

However, Washington State's laws around exotic pets and legal animals are "exclusionary" - meaning that the law spells out what animals are not allowed, without specifying permissible animals.

Washington State law around animal ownership is governed primarily by RCW 16.30.010. This list includes many prohibited species, with limited exceptions spelled out. It does not list which species are permitted other than these limited exceptions.

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What kinds of animals are prohibited?

As I said earlier, there are plenty of guides to what animals you can't own in Washington. To summarize, however, there are four categories of animals prohibited: animals that can carry or infect others with rabies; wild animals including native species; animals that can cause harm to the local environment or that may be invasive; and animals that are considered dangerous to humans, livestock, or pets.

While these categories seem pretty straightforward at first glance, when you start sorting through them, you'll realize that Washington has some pretty restrictive pet ownership laws. You can't own raccoons, foxes, skunks, deer, monkeys, or even quail (one of my favorite bird species). Since these are common exotic pet species, just what can you own in Washington?

I've done the research and found 11 exotic pet options if you really want an unusual pet, listed below. Note that some of these fall in the "creepy and crawly" categories.

One final word of caution: while these animals might be legal in the state, local county and city laws may still prohibit them. Do complete research before you make a purchasing decision.

11 exotic pets that are legal to own in Washington State

While Washington State law is pretty clear on what you can't own, it's not very clear on what you can own. So if you're looking to add an exotic animal to your family, here are eleven options to consider.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

Just to reiterate, here are some of the animal types you cannot own.

No, you may not Own these Animals in Washington State

Dogs, Cats, and some birds, yes, all ok to own as pets, but let's look at the animals you may NOT own as pets here in Washington State.

Gallery Credit: Aly

Amazing Animals To Spot In Washington State

Gallery Credit: Canva-Getty


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