Ever dream of owning your own pet kangaroo? Colorado might be the place to do it.
While Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a fairly conservative stance when it comes to private ownership of wild species, that's not always the case. As a general rule of thumb, it is illegal to own most wildlife in Colorado with a few limited exceptions, and even then, special rules and permitting may apply.
Though not defined wild, several odd animals may be owned in Colorado under a 'domestic' classification. These animals aren't regulated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but must be owned in compliance with regulations from the state agriculture and health departments. A few odd domestic animals that are legal to own in Colorado include alpaca, bison, camel, chinchilla, emu, llama, mink, ostrich, peacock, rhea, reindeer, and yak.
Meanwhile, other animals that might make odd pets are classified as 'unregulated wildlife' and may also be owned in Colorado. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Division of Wildlife does not require a license for these species, though owners must comply with all federal, state, and local laws related to importing, disease, and ownership.
Non-mammals that are legal to own as 'unregulated wildlife' include all tropical and subtropical birds in the order of Passeriformes (including parrots), all tropical and subtropical fish (including gold fish and koi), all tropical and non-native subtropical frogs, toads, non-venomous snakes, and lizards, all marine vertebrates and invertebrates with the exception of anadromous and catadromous species, all tropical and non-native subtropical turtles, and caiman.
A few additional non-mammals can be owned, though they require a special permit. Alligators and crocodiles can be owned with a 'Commercial Wildlife Park' license and venomous snakes can be owned with a license and proof of commercial use.
When it comes to wild mammals that can be owned, the list is much shorter. This list includes African pygmy hedgehog, red kangaroo, short-tailed opossum, sugar gliders, Bennett wallaby, Dama wallaby, Swamp wallaby, and wallaroo. Elk and deer can also be owned, but are classified as 'alternative livestock' and dealt with by the Department of Agriculture.
Individuals are also allowed to capture and hold up to four of several non-mammal species found in Colorado annually, with no more than twelve possessed at any given time. These animals include the Plains spadefoot, Woodhouse's toad, western chorus frog, painted turtle, western box turtle, sagebrush lizard, tree lizard, side-botched lizard, prairie and plateau lizards, bullsnake, western terrestrial garter snake, plains garter snake, lesser earless lizard, western whiptail, racer, and western hognose snake.
It's worth noting the regulations related to the number of animals one can own and other aspects of ownership may exist. For example, one source states that Coloradans are only allowed to have six kangaroo at any given time, also unable to sell or trade the animals with a special permit for ownership required in some situations.
One 2015 count found that there were 44 million kangaroos in Australia. Even if every one of Colorado's 5.8 million residents (children included) could somehow manage to legally obtain six kangaroos, we'd still be 9,200,000 kangaroos short of becoming the kangaroo capital of the world. While kangaroos probably won't be what Colorado is known for anytime soon, know that there's still a chance of spotting a kangaroo while driving down the highway in the Centennial State.
Find more information about owning wild animals in Colorado here. Rules and regulations not mentioned in this article may exist when it comes to animal ownership in Colorado.