Sloths are irresistible; just ask Kristin Bell. They are slow to move, sweet-natured, and shy—causing many social media users to say “same here!” As the internet continues to obsess over sloths, you may wonder: Is it legal to own a pet sloth in my hometown?

Of course, loving sloths and owning them are two separate experiences. But if you are convinced that a sloth would be the perfect addition to your personal menagerie, this blog post will answer all of your burning questions about sloth ownership in Tampa, FL. 

Why Are Some Animals Illegal to Own?

Each state has its own list of exotic animals that are prohibited as pets. Mostly, these bans are meant to protect public safety, as many exotic animals are considered dangerous to humans. Just imagine if wolves, bears, and lions were introduced to suburban neighborhoods.

There are no federal regulations that specify how and when exotic animals can be owned as pets. But according to The Humane Society of the United States, standardized regulations (at the federal level) would better serve public and animal safety. 

What Animals Are Banned as Pets in Florida?

In Florida, the law isn’t so simple as having one cut-and-dry list. Instead, animals are broken down into classes, with Class I being illegal, Class II requiring a permit, and Class III requiring no permit. 

If an animal is a hybrid, it falls into the class of its most heavily-restricted parent.

Class I animals include:

  • Chimpanzees
  • Bears 
  • Gorillas
  • Lions
  • Tigers

Class II animals include:

  • Bobcats
  • Cougars
  • Howler monkeys
  • Alligators

These lists are examples of the types of animals included in each class; they are not comprehensive. As for Class III animals, this categorization includes any animal not specified as Class I or Class II. 

Fortunately, sloths are considered to be a Class III animal, which means they are legal and do not require a permit. 

But while you don’t need a permit to own a sloth in Florida, you do need to meet these requirements:

  • You are 16 years or older
  • You have and follow a Critical Incident Disaster Plan 
  • You pass a questionnaire

If you plan to exhibit your new pet, you will need to pay for a $50 Exhibition or Public Sale Permit. 

Is It Time to Get a Sloth?

Before you dive into the internet, searching, “where to buy a baby sloth,” take a moment to consider whether it truly is a good idea. Of course, sloth ownership is legal, but is it ethical

We’ll leave the answer to that question up to you. But before you go, here are a few reasons why owning a sloth may not be in the best interest of you or the animal:

  • Sloths are wild animals and may exhibit fear or aggression towards humans
  • If your sloth injures someone, you could be liable under premises liability or other negligence laws
  • Sloths are solitary animals, which means they are happiest when left alone
  • Behind that cute, sleepy face, a sloth has big, sharp teeth which can cause major injuries
  • As sloths age, they become more independent and more resistant to handling
  • The pet trade threatens wild populations of sloths in places like Venezuela and Ecuador

Rather than purchase a living, breathing wild animal, you might prefer to invest in a sloth plush toy or t-shirt instead. But if you are convinced that sloth ownership is right for you, you now know that the experience is legal — at least in Florida.

For more information, call us at (813) 222-8545 or reach out to us via email by visiting our contact us page.