The death of a young Colorado man this month at the hands of his illegal pet Gila monster could have easily happened in Montana, where it’s actually legal to keep the venomous reptile as an animal companion.

State laws vary wildly as to what exotic and dangerous creatures are either outright prohibited as pets, acceptable with a permit, or totally unregulated across the US.   

Tennessee residents, for example, might be shocked to learn that their neighbors are just a few forms and bureaucratic hurdles away from taking home one of the deadliest snakes in the world, the black mamba.

Tigers, Grizzly bears, wolf-dog hybrids, gigantic ‘constrictor’ snakes (like the African Rock python), White rhinos, and more rare and untamed predators are all legal as pets somewhere within the 50 states of the union.

And some creatures — like the tiny but deadly poisonous Blue-Ring octopus — are virtually unregulated everywhere across America.

Here’s your guide to the surprising fierce creatures that might be caged up near you.

Tigers, Grizzly bears, wolf-dog hybrids, gigantic 'constrictor' snakes (like the African Rock python), White rhinos, and more rare predators are all legal as pets somewhere within the 50 states of the union. Some, like the Blue-Ring octopus, are virtually unregulated everywhere

Tigers, Grizzly bears, wolf-dog hybrids, gigantic 'constrictor' snakes (like the African Rock python), White rhinos, and more rare predators are all legal as pets somewhere within the 50 states of the union. Some, like the Blue-Ring octopus, are virtually unregulated everywhere

Tigers, Grizzly bears, wolf-dog hybrids, gigantic ‘constrictor’ snakes (like the African Rock python), White rhinos, and more rare predators are all legal as pets somewhere within the 50 states of the union. Some, like the Blue-Ring octopus, are virtually unregulated everywhere

The venomous, burrowing reptile that killed a 34-year-old man this month in a Lakewood suburb outside Denver, Colorado is legal without a permit in nine US states , including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Wisconsin

The venomous, burrowing reptile that killed a 34-year-old man this month in a Lakewood suburb outside Denver, Colorado is legal without a permit in nine US states , including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Wisconsin

The venomous, burrowing reptile that killed a 34-year-old man this month in a Lakewood suburb outside Denver, Colorado is legal without a permit in nine US states , including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Wisconsin

Gila Monster

The venomous, burrowing reptile that killed a 34-year-old man this month in the Lakewood suburbs outside Denver, Colorado is legal without a permit in nine US states, including Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Wisconsin. 

The bite of a Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum), which is usually not fatal, is commonly regarded as the most painful toxin produced by any vertebrate animal. 

YouTuber Coyote Peterson described the bite as ‘like hot lava coursing through your veins,’ adding that it was the worst pain he had ever experienced.

Despite this, the monster is only illegal to own as a pet in 12 US states, including New Jersey, Oregon, and Maine.

Most states have allowed the ownership of so-called wolfdogs, or wolf-dog hybrids, without permits or any other form of regulation, even though the partially wild, partially domesticated animals have can pose a serious threat to humans

Most states have allowed the ownership of so-called wolfdogs, or wolf-dog hybrids, without permits or any other form of regulation, even though the partially wild, partially domesticated animals have can pose a serious threat to humans

Most states have allowed the ownership of so-called wolfdogs, or wolf-dog hybrids, without permits or any other form of regulation, even though the partially wild, partially domesticated animals have can pose a serious threat to humans

Wolfdog hybrid

Most states have allowed the ownership of so-called wolfdogs, or wolf-dog hybrids, without permits or any other form of regulation, even though the partially wild, partially domesticated animals have posed a serious threat to humans.

In December, a wolfdog kept as a family pet in one of those states, Alabama, killed a three-month old child, leading to the animal’s own euthanasia by veterinarians at the direction of local law enforcement. 

Experts say that a wolfdog can often have a fatal combination of traits from its parents: fearlessness around humans, from its dog parent, combined with the ruthlessness of its wolf parent. 

Some zoos reportedly have exhibited wolfdogs simply as ‘wolves.’ 

New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, and many more will let residents keep wolfdogs as a pet. The hybrid is only illegal to own as a pet in 11 states, including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Louisiana.  

America is divided in half on whether or not its citizens can own a monkey, like the chimpanzee, as a pet: 25 states ban the practice outright , while 12 require permits and 13 simply allow the practice completely unregulated

America is divided in half on whether or not its citizens can own a monkey, like the chimpanzee, as a pet: 25 states ban the practice outright , while 12 require permits and 13 simply allow the practice completely unregulated

America is divided in half on whether or not its citizens can own a monkey, like the chimpanzee, as a pet: 25 states ban the practice outright , while 12 require permits and 13 simply allow the practice completely unregulated

Chimpanzee

America is divided in half on whether or not its citizens can own any species of monkey as a pet, including the chimpanzee: 25 states ban the practice outright, while 12 require permits and 13 simply allow the practice completely unregulated. 

Kansas is one state were you can keep a chimp as a pet without any paperwork.

The same was once true of Connecticut, but new laws went into effect after a 200-lb domesticated chimpanzee named Travis mauled a woman in Stamford in 2009.

‘He ripped her face off! Please, please hurry,’ Travis’ owner Sandra Herold pleaded with 911 at the time.

The victim, who survived, sued the state from $150 million for keeping the practice of chimpanzee pet ownership so unregulated. 

One bite from a sub-Saharan Black Mamba could result in a very painful death within 15 mins

One bite from a sub-Saharan Black Mamba could result in a very painful death within 15 mins

One bite from a sub-Saharan Black Mamba could result in a very painful death within 15 mins

Black Mamba snake

Tennessee natives over the age of 21 who can prove to the state’s satisfaction that they have two years’ experience, a full-time caretaker for the animal, and a recovery plan in case of escapes, are allowed to own the most deadly snake on Earth.

This snake, the Black Mamba, comes with strict regulations most anywhere in the US, but South Carolina is an odd exception where it can be sold freely at reptile shows.

The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is the most dangerous snake in Africa, where its bite is known as the ‘kiss of death.’

A single bite from a sub-Saharan Black Mamba could result in a very painful death within 15 minutes.

There are only three US states where it is legal to own a Kangaroo as a pet without a permit: Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Carolina

There are only three US states where it is legal to own a Kangaroo as a pet without a permit: Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Carolina

There are only three US states where it is legal to own a Kangaroo as a pet without a permit: Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Carolina

Kangaroo

There are only three US states where it is legal to own a Kangaroo as a pet without a permit: Wisconsin, West Virginia and South Carolina.  

Ten other states including Texas and Nevada allow the practice with a permit, but most appear to be actively discouraging the practice both for human safety and to reduce inhumane treatment of the animal.

Wildlife expert Hayley Shute, the curator of the Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales’s Central Coast, has noted that kangaroos are quite strong and competitive. The endearing Aussie creature is more than capable of holding its own in a fight.

‘Male kangaroos will battle one another to be the alpha male,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Their bodies are built for kicking and fighting – their nickname is the boxing kangaroo,’ she added. ‘They’ve got strong legs and sharp claws so they can do real damage to each other.’

Because of their status as an invasive species that can choke out other forms of wildlife in record numbers, the Africa Rock python is banned as a pet in many US states, including Florida. Louisiana, however, is an exception

Because of their status as an invasive species that can choke out other forms of wildlife in record numbers, the Africa Rock python is banned as a pet in many US states, including Florida. Louisiana, however, is an exception

Because of their status as an invasive species that can choke out other forms of wildlife in record numbers, the Africa Rock python is banned as a pet in many US states, including Florida. Louisiana, however, is an exception

African Rock python

Because of their status as an invasive species that can choke out other forms of wildlife in record numbers, the Africa Rock python is banned as a pet in many US states, including Florida. 

Louisiana, however, is an exception, allowing the domestic ownership of these large ‘constrictor’ snakes, which can grow beyond 8-feet long, so long as the owner gets the proper permit.

Curiously the state allows, ‘animal sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, wildlife research centers, scientific organizations, and medical research facilities’ to own these pythons without a permit. 

But the creatures have shown a knack for escaping and killing, as one did in Canada in 2016 when an African Rock python killed to children who lived above a pet store

Six states do not have ban or any form of regulation on keeping big cats, including tigers: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Oklahoma

Six states do not have ban or any form of regulation on keeping big cats, including tigers: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Oklahoma

Six states do not have ban or any form of regulation on keeping big cats, including tigers: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Oklahoma

Tiger

Six states do not have ban or any form of regulation on keeping big cats, including tigers: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Oklahoma. 

But even those with some regulations, like Florida, have seen attacks, like the 2016 incident that took the life of a Florida zoo cleaner who was mauled by a Malayan tiger at the Naples Zoo.

As long as you own 2.5 acres of land, the state of Florida will let you keep a whole menagerie of animals including bears, large cats, rhinos, crocodiles and chimpanzees, and more

As long as you own 2.5 acres of land, the state of Florida will let you keep a whole menagerie of animals including bears, large cats, rhinos, crocodiles and chimpanzees, and more

As long as you own 2.5 acres of land, the state of Florida will let you keep a whole menagerie of animals including bears, large cats, rhinos, crocodiles and chimpanzees, and more

Rhino

As long as you own 2.5 acres of land, the state of Florida will let you keep a whole menagerie of animals including bears, large cats, rhinos, crocodiles and chimpanzees, and more. 

Just last year, a 2,000-pound white rhinoceros was shot and killed at a Florida safari park after it ‘aggressively’ escaped from its enclosure.

Staff at the Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari Park needed to shoot 15 rounds, using three different calibers, before the ramoaging beast dropped dead.

There are several states in the US where it's legal to own a pet bear: Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wisconsin

There are several states in the US where it's legal to own a pet bear: Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wisconsin

According to PETA, there have been six human deaths and 29 bear deaths due to pet bear attacks in the US since 1990

According to PETA, there have been six human deaths and 29 bear deaths due to pet bear attacks in the US since 1990

There are several states in the US where it’s legal to own a pet bear: Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. According to PETA, there have been six human deaths and 29 bear deaths due to pet bear attacks in the US since 1990

Grizzly Bear

There are several states in the US where it’s legal to own a pet bear: Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. 

While Wisconsin is a very unregulated state for many exotic pets, owning a Grizzly in state at least requires a license from the Department of Natural Resources. 

According to the animal welfare nonprofit PETA, there have been six human deaths, 29 bear deaths, and over 65 human injuries due to pet bears in the US since 1990.

Occasionally popular in home and office aquariums, the Blue-Ring Octopus is so petite and colorful that many might accidentally deem it harmless

Occasionally popular in home and office aquariums, the Blue-Ring Octopus is so petite and colorful that many might accidentally deem it harmless

Occasionally popular in home and office aquariums, the Blue-Ring Octopus is so petite and colorful that many might accidentally deem it harmless

Last year, an Australian woman nearly died after being bitten by a deadly blue-ringed octopus at a popular beach in Sydney

Last year, an Australian woman nearly died after being bitten by a deadly blue-ringed octopus at a popular beach in Sydney

But despite the threat their poison can pose to humans the tentacled creature is legal to own anywhere in the United States

But despite the threat their poison can pose to humans the tentacled creature is legal to own anywhere in the United States

Last year, an Australian woman nearly died after being bitten by a deadly blue-ringed octopus at a popular beach in Sydney. But despite the threat their poison can pose to humans the tentacled creature is legal to own anywhere in the United States

Poisonous Blue-Ring Octopus

Occasionally popular in home and office aquariums, the Blue-Ring Octopus is so petite and colorful that many might accidentally deem it harmless. 

Last year, an Australian woman nearly died after being bitten by a deadly blue-ringed octopus at a popular beach in Sydney.

Despite the threat their poison can pose to humans the tentacled creature is legal to own anywhere in the United States. 

Nearly ‘anything goes’ in Pennsylvania 

With a few recent exceptions, mostly local endangered species, a sweeping variety of wild and dangerous animals are legal to own as a pet in Pennsylvania, so long as the prospective owner gets the right permits.

It is technically possible to have a pet tiger or alligator or pretty much any deadly predator you can think of in state, which has encouraged some unusual hording.

In 2018, humane officers descended on two homes in Macungie and Montgomery County, to help free dozens of tropical birds, a 14-ft boa constrictor, rabbits and skunks, ferrets, alligators and giant tortoises.

‘Unfortunately, it’s a very poorly regulated industry,’ as Debra Leahy, manager of Captive Wildlife Protection for the Humane Society of the United States, summed it up at the time. 

Leahy noted that these animals were kept in ‘extraordinarily cruel’ conditions stored in cages and bins, and encouraged residents of the Quaker State and anywhere else to think twice about trying to have an exotic animal as a pet. 

This post first appeared on Dailymail.co.uk

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