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AJ Murray Legal Services P.C. Blog

  • Writer's pictureTira Muise

Are you housing Illegal Exotic Pets?

An exotic pet is a pet that is relatively rare or is generally thought of as a wild species rather than as a domesticated pet. If you're considering adopting one, you're likely aware of the extra responsibilities it entails—like finding a specialized vet, obtaining special food and equipment, and understanding different care needs compared to typical domestic pets. However, what about the legal aspects?

Provincial Offences

By law, keeping wild animals’ captive is generally prohibited. However, each city has its own bylaws regulating which animals are prohibited as pets. If you're unsure if your pet is allowed, start by checking your local city or town bylaws. Here are the relevant bylaws for Ottawa, Hamilton, and Toronto:


Under “Animal Care and Control, By-law No. 2003-077”, Schedule B lists prohibited animals, which includes but is not limited to:

  • all undomesticated species of dogs and cats; 

  • all squirrels;

  • all bats;

  • all front-fanged and some mid or rear-fanged venomous snakes, (even if de-venomed);

  • all adult pythons reaching an adult greater than two (2) metres;

  • all other snakes that reach an adult length greater than three (3) metres;

  • all venomous spiders except the following species of tarantula: Chilean rose (Grammostola rosea), Mexican Redknee (Brachypelma smithi) and Pink-Toed (Avicularia avicularia); and

  • all venomous arthropods including but not limited to centipedes.

Violating this by-law can result in fines under the Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990. However, existing owners of prohibited animals may be able to keep them if they meet certain conditions.


“By-law No. 12-031, A By-law to Regulate Responsible Animal Ownership” outlines all of the prohibited animals in the city of Hamilton which includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Anseriformes (ducks, geese, swans and screamers) except in rural or agricultural zones;

  • Artiodactyls (cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, deer, elk, alpacas, and llamas) except: Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs with a valid license and those living on rural or agricultural zoned lands;

  • Carnivora (otters, wolves, bears, coyotes, foxes, tigers, leopards, cougars, lions, lynx, mink, skunks, weasels, badgers, mongooses, and racoons) except dogs, cats, and ferrets;

  • Raptors (eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls) except as permitted under a provincial falconry license;

  • All snakes except: Non-venomous snakes that will not grow to be longer than three meters in length; and 

  • All lizards except: Non-venomous lizards that will not grow to be longer than two metres at maturity.

Every person who fails to comply with this By-law and is found guilty of an offence is liable: (a) on a first conviction, to a maximum fine of not more than $10,000; and (b) on any subsequent conviction, to a maximum fine of not more than $25,000.


The following animals are prohibited in the City of Toronto as per the “Toronto Municipal Code, CHAPTER 349, ANIMALS.” The list prohibited animals include but aren’t limited to: 

  • Cattle, goats, sheep, pigs – and other Artiodactyls;

  • Coyotes, wolves, foxes, hybrid wolf dogs – and other Canidae except domesticated dogs;

  • Tigers, leopards, cougars – and other Felidae except domestic cats;

  • Bats such as fruit bats, myotis, flying foxes;

  • Porcupines, prairie dogs – and other Rodentia except rodents which do not exceed 1,500 grams and are derived from self-sustaining captive populations;

  • Horses, donkeys, jackasses, mules;

  • All snakes that reach an adult length larger than 3 metres;

  • All lizards that reach an adult length larger than 2 metres;

The fine for having a prohibited animal in Toronto is $240.00.

Aside from the potential provincial offenses that you may face due to the ownership your pet, there may also be other legal ramifications from your furry or scaly friend.

Residential Tenancies

If you are currently renting a home with a tenancy agreement covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, any illegal activity may result in the termination of your tenancy.

Additionally, while "no pet" provisions are not permitted under the Residential Tenancies Act, pursuant to section 76 of the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord may file an application for eviction with the Landlord and Tenant Board under the following circumstances:

  • The behavior of a pet has substantially interfered with the reasonable enjoyment of the residential complex for the landlord or other tenants.

  • The presence of a pet has caused the landlord or another tenant to suffer a serious allergic reaction.

  • The presence of a pet of that species or breed is inherently dangerous to the safety of the landlord or the other tenants.

Before you decide to adopt a pet which may be less conventional than your standard dog or cat, be sure to seek legal advice to ensure legal compliance. If you already have an exotic pet and wish to speak to someone about your rights or if you are now facing legal trouble as a result of your ownership, please be sure to contact our office for a free consultation!

About the Author

Tira Muise

Licensed Paralegal

AJ Murray Legal Services P.C.


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