Massachusetts laws


The following are NOT exempt from wildlife permits and would be banned as pets:

  • US threatened and endangered species
  • IUCN red book species
  • State endangered, threatened, and special concern species
  • Migratory birds
  • Birds native to US and Canada

These species not covered above are exempt from permit:

  • Fish
    • Aquarium trade fish (freshwater fish not capable of surviving above 30º north latitude or below 30º south latitude) including goldfish, koi and guppies
      • EXCLUDES:
        • tilapia
        • grass carp
        • piranha (Pygocentrus and Serrasalmus)
        • rudd
        • walking catfish
    • fathead minnows as pets
      • EXCLUDES: bait

  • Amphibians
    • All species

  • Reptiles
    • Turtles – allows 100 turtles or eggs per species
      • EXCLUDES:
        • Argentina or Chaco Tortoise
        • Gopher Tortoises and rest (Gopherus)
        • Pancake Tortoise
        • Spotted Turtle
        • Red-eared Slider
    • Snakes
      • Boas and pythons (boidae)
        • EXCLUDES: African Rock Python, Reticulated Python and Anaconda (Eunectes)
      • Shield-tailed and sunbeam Snakes (Uropeltidae and Xenopeltidae)
      • Worm and thread Snakes (Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae, and Anomalepidae)
      • Asian Ratsnakes (Elaphe, Ptyas and Zaocys)
      • Trans-Pecos Ratsnake (Bogetophis)
      • Brown and Redbelly Snakes (Storeria)
      • Diadem Snakes (Spalerosophis)
      • Garter and Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis)
      • Glossy Snakes (Arizona)
      • Gopher and Pine Snakes (Pituophis)
      • Green Snakes (Opheodrys)
      • Ground Snakes (Sonora)
      • House Snakes (Boaedon/Lamprophis)
      • Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis)
      • North American Ratsnakes (Pantherophis)
        • EXCLUDES: black ratsnake except albinistic and leucistic
      • Mole Snake
      • Puffing Snakes (Pseustes)
      • Texas Indigo Snake
      • Tropical Rat Snakes (Spilotes)
      • Water Snakes (Nerodia/Natrix)
      • Western Hognose Snake
    • Lizards excluding Gila monster and beaded lizard
      • Skinks (Scincidae)            
        • EXCLUDES: Florida sand skinks and Solomon Island Ground Skink
      • False Club-tailed Lizards (Pseudocordylus)
      • Girdle-tailed Lizards (Cordylus)
      • Plated Lizards (Gerrhosaurus and Zonosaurus)
      • Rock Lizards (Platysaurus)
      • Teiids (Teiidae) including Jungle Runners (Ameiva) and Tegus (Tupinambis)
        • EXCLUDES: desert tegus (Dicrodon)
      • Fringe-fingered Lizards (Acanthodactylus)
      • Wall Lizards (Eremias and Gallotia)
      • Sand Lizards (Lacerta and Psammodromus)
      • Asian Grass Lizards (Takydromus)
      • Alligator Lizards (Gerrhonotus)
      • Glass Lizards (Ophisaurus)
      • Slowworm (Anguis)
      • European legless lizard
      • Geckos (Gekkonidae)
        • EXCLUDES: Big Bend gecko
      • Basilisks (Basiliscus)
      • Collared and Leopard Lizards (Crotaphytus)
      • Common or Green Iguanas
      • False or Spring-tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaurus)
      • Tree Iguanas (Liolaemus)
      • New World Chameleons (Anolis and Ctenotus)
      • Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus)
      • Tree and Bush Lizards (Urosaurus)
      • Diving Lizards (Uranoscodon)
      • Zebra-tailed Lizards (Callisaurus)
      • Dragon Lizards (Amphibolorus)
      • Forest, Garden and Bloodsucker Lizards (Calotes)
      • Sailfin Lizards (Hydrosaurus)
      • Bearded Dragons (Pogona)
      • Water Dragon (Physignathus)
      • Frilled Lizards (Chlamydosaurus)
      • Uromastyx Lizards (Uromastyx)
      • Night Lizards (Xanusidae, Xantusia)
        • EXCLUDES: Utah Night Lizard
      • true Chameleons (Chamaelenoidae)
      • Spiny-tailed or Ridge-tailed Monitor

  • Birds:
    • Blue or Button Quail
    • Pigeons and doves (Columbidae)
    • Waxbills and allies (Estrildidae)
    • Finches and allies (Fringillidae)
    • Weaver Finches (Ploceidae)
      • EXCLUDES: Red-billed, Black-fronted, and Sudan Diochs
    • parrots and their allies (Psittacidae)
    • Toucans, Aracaris, and Toucanets (Ramphastidae)
    • Starlings and Mynahs (Sturnidae)
      • EXCLUDES: Rose-colored Starling
    • Emu
    • Rhea
    • Ostrich

  • Mammals:
    • Four-toed (African pygmy) hedgehog
    • Chinchilla from captive stock
    • Deer Mouse and White-footed Mouse
    • Degu
    • Egyptian Spiny Mouse
    • House Mouse
    • Jerboas (Dipus)
    • Norway Rat
    • Paca (Cuniculus)
    • Southern Flying Squirrel
    • Striped hamster (Chinese or Siberian dwarf hamster)
    • Sugar Glider
    • American Bison

(Massachusetts Admin Code 9.01)



  • Birds:
    • Domestic geese from greylag goose including Emden goose, Gray African goose, Pilgrim goose, Sebastopol goose, and Toulouse goose
    • Domestic geese from swan goose including African goose and Chinese goose
    • Domestic geese from Egyptian goose
    • Domestic ducks from Mallard including Aylesbury duck, Blue Swedish duck, Buff duck, Cayuga duck, Crested White duck, English call duck, Indian runner duck, Pekin duck, and Roen duck
    • Mallards reared in captivity and properly marked
    • Domestic muscovy from Muscovy duck
    • Common coturnix (common and Japanese)
    • Domestic chicken from red junglefowl
    • Peafowl (blue peafowl)
    • Domestic guineafowl from helmet guineafowl
    • Domestic turkey from wild turkey including breeds and varieties recognized by the American Poultry Association and USDA
      • EXCLUDES: ferae naturae and pen-raised or game-farm nonstandard
    • Common pigeon (rock dove) from blue rock pigeon

  • Mammals:
    • Domestic dog
    • American Mink propagated in captivity 2+ generations
    • Domestic cat
    • Domestic ass
    • Domestic horse
    • Domestic swine including breeds and varieties from wild hog
      • EXCLUDES: European wild hog or free-living or feral wild hogs or wild swine
    • Llama
    • Alpaca
    • Dromedary camel
    • Domestic water buffalo
    • Domestic cow
    • Domestic yak
    • Zebu
    • Domestic goat including breeds and varieties from wild goat or bezoar
    • Domestic sheep
    • Domestic hamster from golden hamster
    • Mongolian gerbil
    • Laboratory rat, including breeds, varieties, and strains from Norway rat
    • Laboratory mouse, including breeds, varieties, and strains from house mouse
    • Guinea pig
    • Domestic rabbit, including breeds, varieties, and strains from European rabbit
      • EXCLUDES: ferae naturae European rabbit and San Juan rabbit

(Massachusetts Admin Code 9.02)



BANS wild take of native wildlife other than as allowed under reptiles and amphibians.

BANS wildlife and hybrids as pets and other purposes not listed under permits.

    • TICA or CFA registered feline hybrids at least 4 generations
    • Exempt species
    • Domesticated species
    • Vets treating wildlife

  • EXEMPT from 131 sec. 19, 19A, 22 and 28:
    • USDA zoos, natural history associations and museums, and zoos from political subdivisions

PERMIT required for other purposes.

  • Class 1 Private Waters License (possess, propagate and maintain fish for personal use or for fishing in private pond by association or club)
    • personal use includes family and guests
    • Limited to Type A fish AND BANS sale

  •  Class 2 Public Stocking License (possess, propagate and maintain fish for liberation into public waters)

  • Class 3 Aquaculture License (possess, propagate and sell fish year-round except to pet shops along with scientific and educational use)
    • Class A – native and baitfish – limited to bluegill, brook trout, brown bullhead, brown trout, chain pickerel, fathead minnow, golden shiner, largemouth bass, mummichog, pumpkinseed, rainbow trout, white sucker, and yellow perch
    • Class B – Type A species and those found in watershed
    • Class C – Type A&B, coho salmon, tilapia, white bass, and white X striped bass hybrids

  • Class 4 Propagator’s License (possess and buy mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians for sale)  
    • LIMITED TO: research or education by institutions, commercial use in conjunction with primary occupation, commercial propagation (except pets) for species listed in 2.12 (11), dog sporting events, USDA zoos, endangered or threatened species, aviculture, captive born non venomous turtles and reptiles on May 8, 1986, service animals, and grandfathered animals
    • Commercial LIMITED TO: fallow, red and sika deer, aoudad and mouflon sheep, red and Arctic fox, pheasants, quail, partridges, waterfowl, US endangered and threatened birds as federally allowed
    • Inspections required for Carnivora, elephants, cervids and venomous reptiles

  • Class 5 Public Stocking License (Possess, propagate and maintain birds and mammals for public hunting)

  • Class 6 Dealer’s License (food purposes and commercial transactions involving imported or propagated fish, birds or mammals if public interest and not detrimental to native wildlife)

  • Class 7 Possessor’s License (possess nonexempt bird or mammal for pet or training dogs owned in 1994 and nonexempt reptiles and amphibians)

  • Class 8 Quail (release and recapture up to 25 quail, 6 ring-necked pheasants, and 2 chukar partridges to train dogs)

  • Class 9 Falconry

  • Class 10 Raptor Breeding (possess and propagate families Accipitridae, Falconidae, Tytonidae, and Strigidae)

  • Class 11 Raptor Salvage (rehabilitate and release or transport to falconer any Falconiformes)

  • Temporary Possession Permit (wild animal farms or zoos to exhibit wildlife off their property)

  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit (rehabilitate birds, mammals and herp other than threatened or endangered species, black bears, moose, venomous snakes or white-tailed deer)

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131-21 to 29, 77a; 321 Code of Mass. Regs. 2.12, 2.13, 2.15, 3.04, 4.09)



Possession, breeding, sale, import and export of wild canid and felid hybrids are regulated the same as wildlife species above.

  • GRANDFATHERED: ones owned and permitted in 1994
  • EXEMPT: those registered with a nationally or internationally recognized breeding association or registry and at least 3 generations removed

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131- 77A)


BANS using ferrets for hunting.

Ferrets may be kept as pets, bred under permit, sold at pet shops, used in research, and used in educational institutions. 

PERMIT required to breed ferrets except research.


  • certificate of rabies and distemper shots (pets and education at time of purchase and those sold by pet shops or breeders before sale)
  • certificate of spay or neuter except research or breeding or those imported up to 2 weeks as pets or for shows or exhibitions if not bred or sold
  • meet licensing, facilities, inspections, renewals, reports requirements for wildlife
  • certificate for sales
  • bites may result in quarantine or destruction for rabies

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131- 77; 321 Code of Mass. Regs. 2.07)



BANS buying and selling wild-caught trout, salmon, horned pout, yellow perch, pickerel, white perch, great northern pike or muskellunge, wall-eyed pike, pike perch and Centrarchidae taken within state, any wild-caught black bass, birds and mammals, and reptiles and amphibians.

  • EXEMPT: those with open seasons lawfully taken

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131-22)



BANS taking endangered, threatened, and special concern species along with these protected species:

  • EXEMPT: special educational, scientific, or conservation and management permit
  • LIST:
    • spotted salamander
    • four-toed salamander
    • spring salamander
    • Northern leopard frog
    • spotted turtle
    • Eastern hognosed snake

BANS wild-take of native reptiles and amphibians for sale. 

LEGAL TO TAKE for personal use:

  • American bullfrogs and green frogs
    • Take 12/day and possess 24 combined
    • Season: Jul 16 to Sep 30

  • American bullfrogs, green frogs, pickerel frogs and wood frogs
    • under 2.5” may only be taken for bait
    • Take 10/day and possess 10

  • Common snapping turtles
    • Take 2/day and possess 2
    • Must have carapace of at least 12”
    • Method: hand, dip net or gaff
    • Season: May 1 to July 16

  • Rest
    • Possess 2 per species
    • Method: hand or dip net
    • Season: year-round

(321 Code of Mass. Regs. 3.05)



BANS take, possession, transport, import, export, processing and sale of
state endangered, threatened and special concern species and native federal endangered and threatened species.

    • transport through within 24 hours
    • federal authorized uses

  • GRANDFATHERS: animals already owned

PERMIT issued for state listed species for these purposes:

  • Scientific and Educational Use Permit (includes scientific collecting, educational use, wildlife rehabilitation, salvage, or bird banding)

  • Conservation and Management Permit (take for conservation or management)

  • Captive Propagation of State Listed Species (propagation)
    • NEED: written propagation program

  • Falconry License (possess, propagate and sell captive-bred federal and state raptors
    • May allow take of special concern species

  • Public Health (remove, capture or destroy for public health)

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131A; 321 Code of Mass. Regs. 10.00)


FISH IMPORT (Fish and game)

PERMIT required to import live protected fish within 15-30 days of import.

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131-19)



PERMIT required to import protected wild bird and mammals, Sciuridae (squirrel, marmot, chipmunk, prairie dog), rabbits and hares, and other vertebrates.

(Massachusetts Gen. Law 131-19A)



PERMIT (Importation Permit) required to import fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

    • exempt species
    • fur dealer
    • import by hunter or trapper
    • Class 6 Dealer’s

PERMIT (Liberation Permit) required to liberate fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

    • brook trout, brown bullhead, brown trout, chain pickerel, golden shiner, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, rainbow trout, white sucker, yellow perch
    • ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, snowshoe hare
    • Wildlife rehabilitator
    • problem animal control agent
    • Class 11 raptor salvage permit
    • commercial shooting preserve permit
    • Class 2 public stocking license
    • Class 8 quail license
    • Homing pigeons

PERMIT (Transportation Permit) required to transport fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

  • BANS: transport of fish from body of water taken except bait
    • Importation or liberation permit
    • Wild-caught reptiles or amphibians
    • Euthanasia

(321 Code of Mass. Regs. 2.15)