Most can't keep wildlife at home

Because of the inherent dangers, only qualified wildlife handlers can keep monkeys, tigers and other undomesticated animals in their homes.

Most anyone else can’t have a lion or chimpanzee sharing apartment space, according to state Fish and Game.

The risks of having wildlife around the home came clear this week, when a 200-pound chimpanzee mauled a woman in the Connecticut home where it lived.

But in this state, “There are housing requirements and caging requirements that a normal person will not be able to meet,” said Fish and Game Lt. Robert Bryant. “An individual just can’t get a wild animal.”

Only an exhibitor – zookeepers or trainers – and a licensed rehabilitator can have wildlife live on their property. Most wildlife falls into that category; the state is quite restrictive on what furry creatures can live in a domestic environment, Bryant said.

A Stamford, Conn., woman cared for the chimp in her home. The chimpanzee attacked the woman’s friend during a visit. She is in critical condition and the chimp was shot and killed by police.

Connecticut law requires anyone who owns a primate heavier than 50 pounds to obtain a state permit, but this chimpanzee was exempted from that law, according to an Associated Press story.

Animal lovers in New Hampshire don’t need to seek permission to share living quarters with noncontrolled species that can be found in pet stores, Bryant said. A Fish and Game exception isn’t needed for critters such as chinchillas, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets and African pygmy hedgehogs, he said.

Exotic birds can also fly around a home, and can obviously be bought at pet stores, Bryant said. The state also doesn’t regulate potbellied pigs and boa constrictors, he said.

But venomous snakes aren’t allowed in a home unless the owner has an exhibitor’s permit. For venomous reptiles, such a permit has rigorous standards, including requiring the individual to have 1,000 hours of handling experience, Bryant said. Keeping an alligator or crocodile in the home also needs Fish and Game approval, he said.

The state Department of Agriculture requires permits for animals such as yaks, camels and llamas, Bryant said.

Bryant said the full list of rules and regulations for wildlife is available on the New Hampshire General Court Web site. But the site only lists titles of regulations; there are no Web hyperlinks to the regulations themselves.

Even if an animal doesn’t require a state permit for domestic habitation, the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire cautions homeowners and apartment dwellers to first consider all the ramifications of ownership.

“They need to think about an animal’s natural environment, and how well you can replicate that,” said Maureen Prendergast, an animal cruelty investigator for the rescue league. “Some animals aren’t meant to be domesticated.”

Prendergrast said her organization hasn’t come across homeowners keeping chimps, tigers or other dangerous wildlife. But it’s common for people to abandon iguanas, lizards and snakes once they realize they require specialized care, she said.