Wild, exotic, or somewhat unusual animals are popular as pets throughout the United States. Owning these animals can be problematic, however, as they may be dangerous, an endangered species, or an invasive species that could harm nearby ecosystems. As such, Texas law prohibits or regulates keeping certain animals as pets.

Pet owners are responsible for the actions of their pets. If you’ve been injured by someone’s pet–whether it’s legal or illegal, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. 


Wolves are listed as endangered species in Texas, and it is illegal to keep them as pets. While wolves share similarities with their close relatives–dogs–they have not been domesticated over thousands of years and do not make great pets. They can be unpredictable, destructive, and dangerous to humans. Violating this law is an offense classified as a Parks and Wildlife felony.

However, Texas law regarding wolves does not regulate wolf hybrids, such as wolf dogs. Wolf dogs are popular pets, though they can be prone to the same issues as wolves. Owners may find themselves overwhelmed or have difficulty controlling them. 

Note that Texas law allows counties to create additional regulations on animal ownership and control, so they may not be legal in every county. 


Tigers have been very popular as exotic pets, especially in Texas. Unfortunately, these tigers are often kept in insufficient conditions that endanger the lives of humans and the tigers.

It was once legal to own a tiger as a pet in Texas if you held a Certificate of Registration. However, in December 2022, the Big Cat Public Safety Act was enacted, which makes it illegal to possess a tiger as a pet in the United States. The law also prohibits owning a lion, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, jaguar, cheetah, or cougar. People who already owned one of these big cats may be allowed to keep them if they registered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by June 2023. 

Diamondback Terrapin

Terrapins and their close relatives, turtles, are popular pets for some because they are unique and seem like low-maintenance pets. In reality, they may live for decades, require specialized care, and can transmit diseases. In Texas, it is illegal to have a diamondback terrapin unless you have a permit for a zoological, educational, or scientific purpose. 

In addition, while Texas does not prohibit owning turtles, federal law prohibits selling turtles with shells less than four inches long, because they can carry salmonella and are small enough for young children to put in their mouths. 


Bobcats may be a popular pet for those interested in owning an exotic animal, as they are considered one of the “easier” exotic felines to keep. Nonetheless, they fall within Texas’s category of “dangerous wild animals,” and it is illegal to own one without obtaining a Certificate of Registration. 

Other “dangerous wild animals” that are illegal to own in Texas without a Certificate of Registration include bears, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, ocelots, and coyotes. 


Raccoons are known for their intelligence and human-like curiosity. They also appear very “cute,” and people may want to own them as pets. Texas prohibits owning any fur-bearing animal, including raccoons, without obtaining a special permit. Fur-bearing animals are those who have fur and were traditionally hunted for their pelts. 

Other fur-bearing animals prohibited as pets without a permit in Texas include wild beaver, otter, mink, ring-tailed cat, badger, skunk, raccoon, muskrat, opossum, fox, and nutria.

Contact an Experienced Houston Personal Injury Lawyer if You’ve Been Injured by Someone’s Pet

If someone is keeping an exotic or dangerous animal as a pet illegally, it poses a threat to public safety. If you were injured by someone’s exotic pet, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. Contact Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.

For more information, contact the Houston personal injury law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

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