This section exempts some animals from Massachusetts' exotic pet ban. The animals that have been added to this license-exemption list include boas and pythons, skinks, parrots, hedgehogs, chinchillas, and flying squirrels, among others.
Pursuant to the authority granted in M.G.L. c. 131, § 23, herewith is established a list of species which are exempt from the licensing provisions of M.G.L. c. 131, § 23. This list includes wild (i.e., non-domesticated) vertebrate animals which may be imported, sold or possessed without a permit. Note, however, that listing below does not affect other licensing requirements which may be applicable under Federal, State or local laws, including special endangered species and export restrictions of other states.
(1) Purpose. The purpose of 321 CMR 9.01 is to list those species which are exempt from the licensing provisions of M.G.L. c. 131, § 23, and which may be imported, possessed, maintained, propagated, bought, sold, exchanged or offered for sale without a license or permit from the Division. Species not listed, or which are expressly listed as “require(s) a permit”, are not exempt from the provisions of M.G.L. c. 131, § 23. Notwithstanding a species being exempt from these licensing provisions, such species shall be kept in a manner appropriate for their health and safety, including being secured from escape.
(2) Definitions. For the purposes of 321 CMR 9.01 and unless the context requires otherwise, the following words or phrases shall have the following meanings:
Aquarium means an enclosed indoor facility or an outdoor holding facility that lacks an inlet or outlet, or such other holding facility as approved by the Director.
Aquarium Trade Fish means those freshwater fish which cannot survive year-round in a wild environment above 30° north latitude (approximately from Jacksonville, FL west to Ensenada, CA) or below 30° south latitude (approximately from Puerto-Alegre, Brazil west to La Serena, Chile). Notwithstanding the foregoing, aquarium trade fish shall also include the goldfish (Carassius auratus), koi or Japanese carp (Cyprinus carpio), and guppies (Poecilia spp.), but shall not include tilapia (Tilapia spp.) which require a permit.
Director means the Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife or his or her authorized agent.
Division means the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, with principal offices at 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.
Domestic or Domesticated means those species listed as domestic pursuant to 321 CMR 9.02(3).
Exempt or Kept without a Permit means that the animal may be imported, possessed, maintained, propagated, bought, sold, exchanged, or offered for sale or exchange without a license or permit.
License or Permit means a license or permit issued pursuant to the authority of M.G.L. c. 131, § 23.
Non-exempt or Require(s) a Permit means that the animal may not be imported, possessed, maintained, propagated, bought, sold, exchanged, or offered for sale or exchange except by a person holding a current and valid license or permit.
Person means any individual, partnership, profit or non-profit corporation, firm, business, or other commercial or non-commercial entity, club, organization, or association.
Species means an individual or individuals of any distinct non-domestic vertebrate animal population whose members interbreed when mature or are self-perpetuating through the production of viable offspring and can include any subspecies or variety of vertebrate animal.
(3) Categorical Non-exemptions: No species in any of the following categories may be exempted:
(a) Threatened or endangered species listed pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973;
(b) Species listed in the Red Book(s) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature;
(c) Species appearing on the Massachusetts list of endangered, threatened, and special concern species at 321 CMR 10.90: List of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern Species.
(4) Exemption Criteria: Animals exempted below are believed to meet the following criteria:
(a) Accidental release of the fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, or mammal will not result in an adverse effect on the ecology of the state;
(b) The animal in captivity, or escaped therefrom, poses no substantial danger to humans, either by injury or disease;
(c) Proper care of the animal is no more demanding in any major respect than proper care of domestic animals;
(d) Trade in the fish, bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian has no significant adverse effect on the wild population of such animal in any of its native habitats.
(5) Sources of Acquisition. Except as provided in 321 CMR 3.05: Hunting Fishing, Trapping and Taking of Reptiles and Amphibians in All the Counties of the Commonwealth, exempt animals may be obtained from the following sources only:
(a) lawfully propagated within Massachusetts, or
(b) lawfully taken or lawfully propagated without Massachusetts, provided that the export, sale, or exchange of such animals is lawful in the state or country in which animals are taken or propagated.
(6) Liberation. No person shall liberate or cause to be liberated any exempt animal, except in accordance with a liberation permit issued pursuant to 321 CMR 2.15: Importation, Liberation, and Transportation of Fish, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals.
(7) Quarantine. Notwithstanding the provisions of 321 CMR 9.01(1), the Director may examine, quarantine and destroy exempt animals and may restrict or prohibit the importation thereof in accordance with the provisions of M.G.L. c. 131, §§ 19, 19A, 25A, and 25B, and the penalty for violation of such quarantine shall be as provided in M.G.L. c. 131, § 25C.
(8) List of Fish. All aquarium trade fish may be kept without a permit except species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3), and except that the following species are prohibited without a permit:
(a) Grass Carp or White Amur (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
(b) Piranha (Pygocentrus spp. and Serrasalmus spp.)
(c) Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)
(d) Walking Catfish (Clarias spp. and all members of the family Clariidae).
Notwithstanding 321 CMR 9.01(8)(a) through (d), the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) may be kept without a permit as a pet or for sale as a pet, but require a permit when sold as bait fish pursuant to 321 CMR 4.09: Artificial Propagation and Maintenance of Fish.
(9) List of Amphibians. All amphibians may be kept without a permit except species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3).
(10) List of Reptiles.
(a) Turtles. All species of turtles may be kept without a permit, up to a limit of 100 turtles and/or eggs, in any combination, of each species, except for the following species for which a permit is always required:
1. Species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3).
2. Argentina or Chaco Tortoise (Geochelone chilensis).
3. Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) and all other species in the genus Gopherus.
4. Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri).
5. Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata).
6. Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta, including all subspecies and forms).
(b) Snakes. All venomous snakes require a permit. The following snakes may be kept without a permit:
1. All species of boas and pythons (family Boidae), except those species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3), and except the African Rock Python (Python sebae), Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus) and all species of Anaconda (Eunectes spp.), which require a permit.
2. Shield-tailed Snakes, Sunbeam Snakes, and others in the families Uropeltidae and Xenopeltidae.
3. Worm Snakes, Thread Snakes, and others in the families Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae, and Anomalepidae.
4. Snakes of the family Colubridae, as follows:
Asian Ratsnakes (Elaphe spp. and Ptyas spp. and Zaocys spp.)
Trans-Pecos Ratsnake (Bogetophis spp.)
Brown and Redbelly Snakes (Storeria spp.)
Diadem Snakes (Spalerosophis spp.)
Garter and Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis spp.)
Glossy Snakes (Arizona spp.)
Gopher and Pine Snakes (Pituophis spp.)
Green Snakes (Opheodrys spp.)
Ground Snakes (Sonora spp.)
House Snakes (Boaedon [Lamprophis] spp.)
Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis spp.)
North American Ratsnakes (Pantherophis spp.) except the Black Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis other than albinistic and leucistic individuals) which requires a permit.
Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana)
Puffing Snakes (Pseustes spp.)
Texas Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais erebennus)
Tropical Rat Snakes (Spilotes spp.)
Water Snakes (Nerodia [Natrix] spp.)
Western Hognose Snake (Heterodon nasicus)
(c) Lizards: The Gila Monster and Beaded Lizard (Heloderatidae) require a permit. The following lizards may be kept without a permit:
1. All Skinks (Scincidae) except for the following which require a permit: Species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3).
Florida Sand Skinks (Neoseps spp.)
Solomon Island Ground Skink (Tribolonotus spp.)
2. The following Girdle-tailed Lizards (Cordyloidea) may be kept without a permit:
False Club-tailed Lizards (Pseudocordylus spp.)
Girdle-tailed Lizards (Cordylus spp.)
Plated Lizards (Gerrhosaurus spp. and Zonosaurus spp.)
Rock Lizards (Platysaurus spp.)
3. All Teiids (Teiidae), including Jungle Runners (Ameiva spp.) and Tegus (Tupinambis spp.), may be kept without a permit except for the following which require a permit: Species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3).
Desert Tegus (Dicrodon spp.)
4. The following Lacertid Lizards (Lacertidae) may be kept without a permit:
Fringe-fingered Lizards (Acanthodactylus spp.)
Wall Lizards (Eremias spp. and Gallotia spp.)
Sand Lizards (Lacerta spp. and Psammodromus spp.)
Asian Grass Lizards (Takydromus spp.)
5. The following Lateral-fold Lizards (Anguidae) may be kept without a permit:
Alligator Lizards (Gerrhonotus spp.)
Glass Lizards (Ophisaurus spp.)
Slowworm (Anguis spp.)
European legless lizard (Pseudopus apodus)
6. All Geckos (Gekkonidae) may be kept without a permit except for those species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3) and the Big Bend Gecko (Coleonyx reticulatus) which require a permit.
7. The following Iguanid Lizards (Iguanidae) may be kept without a permit: Basilisks
Collared and Leopard Lizards (Crotaphytus spp.)
Common or Green Iguanas (Iguana i. iguana)
False or Spring-tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaurus spp.)
Tree Iguanas (Liolaemus spp.)
New World Chameleons (Anolis spp. and Ctenotus spp.)
Spiny Lizards (Sceloporus spp.)
Tree and Bush Lizards (Urosaurus spp.)
Diving Lizards (Uranoscodon spp.)
Zebra-tailed Lizards (Callisaurus spp.)
8. The following Agamid Lizards (Agamidae) may be kept without a permit:
Dragon Lizards (Amphibolorus spp.)
Forest, Garden and Bloodsucker Lizards (Calotes spp.)
Sailfin Lizards (Hydrosaurus spp.)
Bearded Dragons (Pogona spp.)
Water Dragon (Physignathus spp.)
Frilled Lizards (Chlamydosaurus spp.)
Uromastyx Lizards (Uromastyx spp.)
9. All Night Lizards (Xanusidae, Xantusia spp.) may be kept without a permit, except for the Utah Night Lizard (Xantusia virgilis utahensis) which requires a permit
10. All true Chameleons (Chamaelenoidae) may be kept without a permit, except species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3).
11. The following Monitor Lizards (Varanidae) may be kept without a permit: Spiny-tailed or Ridge-tailed Monitor (Varanus acanthurus).
(11) List of Birds.
(a) The following groups of birds are prohibited without a permit:
1. Species categorically non-exempt pursuant to 321 CMR 9.01(3).
2. Migratory birds listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, 50 CFR 10.13.
3. Any other bird native to the United States and Canada.
(b) Except for species listed in 321 CMR 9.01(11)(a), the birds or groups of birds may be kept without a permit:
1. Blue or Button Quail (Coturnix chinensis)
2. Columbidae (pigeons and doves)
3. Estrildidae (Waxbills and allies)
4. Fringillidae (Finches and allies)
5. Ploceidae (Weaver Finches except the Red-billed, Black- fronted, and Sudan Diochs (Quelea quelea) which require a permit.
6. Psittacidae (parrots and their allies)
7. Ramphastidae (Toucans, Aracaris, and Toucanets)
8. Sturnidae (Starlings and Mynahs, except the Rose-colored Starling (Pink Starling or Rosy Pastor) (Sturnus roseus)) which requires a permit.
9. Emu (Dromaius novaehollanding)
10. Rhea (Rhea spp.)
11. Ostrich (Struthio camelus)
(12) List of Mammals.
(a) The following mammals may be kept without a permit:
1. Four-toed (African pygmy) hedgehog (Erinaceus albiventris) (= Atelerix pruneri)
2. Chinchilla (Chinchilla spp.) derived from captive stock.
3. Deer Mouse and White-footed Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus and P. leucopus)
4. Degu (Octodon degus)
5. Egyptian Spiny Mouse (Acomys cahirinus)
6. House Mouse (Mus musculus)
7. Jerboas (Dipus spp.)
8. Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
9. Paca (Cuniculus spp.)
10. Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans)
11. Striped hamster (Cricetulus barabensis), also known as the Chinese or Siberian dwarf hamster. NOTE: the golden hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) may be kept without a permit pursuant to 321 CMR 9.02.
12. Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps)
13. American Bison (Bison bison)
Currency of the Update: June 30, 2017