While you will ultimately need to check the legality of owning (possessing, importing, and maintaining for a prolonged period) a Fennec fox before you attempt to take one in, we have looked at which states allow Fennec foxes (with the most updated regulations we could find as of 2021).
Many states allow Fennec foxes under the provision of conditional permits, often specified by local jurisdiction. Be sure to look for any required fees, conditions (like housing and enclosure dimensions or sanitation specifications) that are needed for receipt of a permit for private ownership.
To make your search a little easier, let’s take a closer look at the states that allow Fennec foxes as well as other legalities to consider in these states. (Note that if the state is not listed here, it is either illegal to own a Fennec fox in that state, or there was not enough information to verify that private ownership was, in fact, legal.) So, which states are Fennec foxes legal? Check it out:
In Arkansas, non-native foxes (including the Fennec fox) are legal to obtain. Still, you must receive a receipt and appropriate papers from the USDA to verify a legal purchase. Along with this, you must demonstrate a record of keeping the animal properly inspected (including updated vaccinations) through an approved exotic veterinarian.
In Delaware, non-native foxes (including the Fennec fox) can only be obtained with a legal permit authorized by the USDA. Along with this, there is a requirement to pay a fee of $25 for each permit. Although it is not entirely clear through the state legislation, it is expected that this permit is required for each additional exotic pet, not one per owner. Failure to comply could result in a $500 penalty fine and/or up to 30 days in prison.
In Florida, Fennec foxes fall under the category of Wild Candids which are permitted to be obtained through a legal permit authorized by the USDA. However, this permit has relatively strict regulations in terms of the type of structure and living environment which must be maintained for these animals.
Specifically, you must meet the USDA specifications for the dimensions of the Fennec fox enclosure according to your local and state jurisdiction. For one Fennec fox, the minimum space dimensions are 6x4x4ft with individual raised platforms for each pet (and an increase in size by 25% for each additional Fennec fox).
The animal may not be left alone or unattended in an open structure, and the Wild Candid must be provided adequate physical stimulation (including but not limited to non-injurious toys such as a ball, balloon, or drum.
In Illinois, foxes are legal to own assuming you receive a certificate of legality from the USDA. Interestingly, Fennec foxes fall into the category of animals raised in captivity, leaving a breeder under the context of a “farmer” if the individual can file for this status on his financial income taxes. Still, local ordinances are required to decide if a Fennec fox is permitted, and most local ordinances in Illinois permit this animal without a permit.
In Indiana, Fennec foxes are permitted as long as a legal permit from the USDA is obtained beforehand. Then, proper verification from an exotic veterinarian must be submitted to the USDA within 45 days of the permit’s issuance. Finally, the pet must be provided with a shelter or den with an elevated platform, a protective barrier (to enclose the pet safely in the shelter), and adequate living space.
In Kentucky, it is technically legal to possess a Fennec fox, but it is not legal to purchase or import a Fennec fox and there are no local breeders in the state. Therefore, this possession likely crosses the lines of other legal requirements, meaning it is not recommended to own a Fennec fox in the state of Kentucky.
In Maine, foxes (including Fennec foxes) are legal to obtain and possess as long as you receive a legal permit from the USDA. This permit comes on the condition that adequate food, water, health (from an exotic veterinarian), and shelter will be provided for the pet. In terms of caging requirements, a Fennec fox’s enclosure must be at least 8x4x6ft (per one pet), have a shelf that is 18”x3”x4”, and have a den or nest box.
In Michigan, Fennec foxes are considered to be non-native, exotic, domestic animals that do not require a permit to be obtained or possessed. Still, it is important to check with your local ordinance on any possession requirements that exceed those of the state.
In Mississippi, conditional permits for certain species of foxes (including the Fennec) can be obtained, but these must be obtained through local ordinances where they can be extremely difficult to come by. A permit should be received from the USDA meeting the appropriate health, caging, food, and other requirements should the local ordinance allow the possession of a Fennec fox.
In Missouri, it is legal to own certain species of foxes, although Fennec foxes are not specifically addressed in the general wildlife classifications. Rather, they would fall under wildlife held in captivity which are required to receive a permit from the USDA and local ordinances. Additionally, this permit is given upon the provision of appropriate housing, shelter, prevention of escape, food, water, and exotic veterinary care.
In Nebraska, a “Captive Wildlife Permit” must be obtained through the Department of Agriculture for the legal ownership of a fox, although the jurisdiction only denotes for red and gray and does not specify for Fennec foxes. Be sure to check with your local ordinance on any specific regulations required with this permit.
In New York, Fennec foxes are the only breed of fox that is permitted in the state. Still, while it is up to local jurisdiction to review and authorize permits, most local ordinances will require a license to be completed for private ownership of this exotic non-native wildlife.
In North Carolina, foxes are considered to be game animals, but there is not a clear distinction between red and gray foxes versus Fennec foxes (considered to be exotic by most other state jurisdictions). Because the legal jargon is ambiguous regarding this species of fox (a non-game wildlife), you may or may not be able to gain clearance from the state veterinarian, although many state residents have reported having no issues (and have not been required to receive a permit).
In North Dakota, many fox breeds are considered to be non-traditional livestock and require a permit through the Department of Agriculture. However, Fennec foxes are not included (though not specifically excluded) on the list of non-traditional livestock. While it is unclear, this could mean that Fennec foxes are permitted in the state and a species that is regularly monitored via permits. Be sure to check with your local jurisdiction and veterinarian to obtain legal clearance.
In Ohio, all foxes are considered to be fur-bearing animals and consequently fall under the requirement for a non-commercial propagating license of $25 to be received through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. However, there are no specific laws in regard to exotic foxes like the Fennec fox, so be sure to check any local jurisdiction in the area.
In Oklahoma, permits are required for every other species of fox except the Fennec fox, so you can legally own and possess a Fennec fox with no issues in this state. Of course, be sure to check with any local jurisdiction on the matter before bringing this exotic pet into the state.
In Pennsylvania, you may own and possess a Fennec fox as an exotic pet, but this requires an experiential permit that can only be received if you can verify two years’ worth of experience with exotic foxes particularly. (This is specific to experience with exotic foxes, and the permit will not be given for experience with other exotic animals).
However, this permit is known to be difficult to obtain. Still, if you do obtain the permit, you will be required to maintain housing, sanitation, food, safety, drainage pools, and enclosure requirements that meet the specifications of the PCG department.
In Rhode Island, you may own and possess a Fennec fox by obtaining an Exotic Animal Possession Permit from the USDA or the AAZPA. Keep in mind that private persons who receive this permit will be mandated to complete the appropriate paperwork and upkeep for their exotic pet which could vary based on local jurisdiction.
In South Dakota, all species of fox (including the Fennec fox) are legal to own and possess through a possession permit authorized by the Department of Agriculture. This permit costs $10 and is only given assuming the exotic pet owner is providing an enclosure that meets the specific dimensions and qualifications of the state.
In Tennessee, Fennec foxes are considered to be non-native exotic foxes that fall into the Class III category in the Department of Agriculture. Animals in this class are allowed to be owned and possessed and do not require any special permit to own or possess (although importing from another state may require a permit).
In Texas, Fennec foxes are considered to be non-native species and are generally permitted throughout portions of the state. However, it is up to local ordinances to determine whether or not non-native species (including the Fennec fox) are permitted, and if so, what types of (if any) conditional permits are required for private ownership.
In Wisconsin, foxes are legally permitted, but there is limited specification for the Fennec fox, likely classified as captive exotic wildlife (although the legal jargon can be interpreted in a variety of ways). Consequently, it is essential to check with local jurisdiction regarding this specific fox.
In most areas where the Fennec fox is permitted in this state, a permit is required for private ownership, and this permit is only given assuming conditional requirements (housing, enclosure, cage dimensions, etc.) are met.