Rhode Island’s New Small Animal Laws Take Effect

Wide-ranging new laws governing the importation and possession of exotic animals will take effect on April 15th 2010.

The new laws define all animals as one of three categories: Domestic Animals, Exempt Exotic Animals and Exotic Animals. Only animals classified as Exotic Animals, which includes any animal not on either of the other lists, will require a permit. Under the new laws, a Domestic Animal is any animal that has been bred to a degree that makes it distinguishable from wild individuals of their species.

An Exotic Animal is defined as "any vertebrate or invertebrate other than those defined as domestic animals, native wildlife, or exempt exotic animals under this regulation". Any animals imported or possessed that does not fall under the Domestic Animal or Exempt Exotic Animals lists and does not have a permit can be confiscated. Permits will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require that the animal is in a position where it can not escape.

All small animals kept as pets require a permit by default, with the following exemptions:

  • Four-toed hedgehog
  • Chinchilla derived from captive stock
  • Deer mouse and white-footed mouse
  • Degu
  • Egyptian spiny mouse
  • House mouse
  • Jerboas
  • Norway rat
  • Paca
  • Striped hamster, also known as the Chinese or Siberian dwarf hamster
  • Sugar glider
  • Ferret

It should be noted that while possession of a ferret does not require an Exotic Animal permit, it still requires a permit issued through the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

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