Why Are Hamsters Banned in California? Let’s Discover

If you want to keep a hamster in California, you may face imprisonment or a fine. The laws in California are among the strictest when it comes to keeping hamsters.

Why are hamsters banned in California?

Hamsters in California are banned to protect domestic plants and wildlife. The climate in California suits hamsters, potentially leading to the formation of colonies that could damage crops.

In today’s article, you’ll learn why hamsters are banned in California, and also which hamsters are still allowed to be kept in this state.

Why are hamsters banned in California?

Hamsters are banned in California because the environment is very similar to the natural habitat of hamsters in the wild. It is presumed that hamsters would breed excessively in California, as they feed on plants, insects, and flowers.

When hamsters breed excessively, they pose a threat to native wildlife and plants.

Hamsters are banned in California because they can carry diseases if not kept under domestic conditions and may cause damage to other natural resources.

Predators that attack hamsters in California would then have an abundance of food, leading to the disappearance of other prey species.

In California, keeping hamsters and selling these small pets is prohibited.

However, even though hamsters are banned in California, there are many other places where their keeping is allowed, so you should check your local laws.

What are the penalties in California for keeping hamsters?

In California, penalties for keeping hamsters include fines or even imprisonment.

If caught keeping a hamster, the fine ranges from $500 to $1,000, plus additional costs for removal and appropriate further care of the hamster.

The imprisonment penalty is 6 months and an additional $1,000 fine.

The only exception to keeping hamsters in California is if they are used for scientific research at a state institution.

What does the law state about the ban on hamsters in California?

The law banning the keeping of hamsters in California states that any keeping and transportation of hamsters is not allowed.

This law not only applies to hamsters but also bans other animals like monkeys, birds, and rodents such as squirrels.

Only California’s law permits the keeping of domesticated breeds of hamsters. Syrian and dwarf hamsters are allowed, while all others are prohibited.why are hamsters banned in california

When will hamsters be legally allowed in California?

It is still unknown when all breeds of hamsters will be allowed for keeping in California.

For now, only Syrian and dwarf hamsters can be kept in domestic conditions in California.

We hope that in the future, all breeds of hamsters will be allowed to be kept in domestic conditions in the state of California.

Which breeds of hamsters are allowed for keeping in California?

In California, Syrian and dwarf hamsters are allowed to be kept in domestic conditions.

Syrian hamsters are the most common breed kept in domestic conditions and can freely be kept in the state of California.

Dwarf hamsters that can be kept in California include the following:

  • Roborovski hamsters
  • Winter white hamsters
  • Russian dwarf hamsters

If you want to keep Chinese hamsters, you need permission from the state.

Are the banned breeds of hamsters available for sale in California?

Since certain breeds of hamsters are banned for keeping in California, this certainly affects their sale.

The hamster breeds that are banned from keeping cannot and must not be legally sold in pet stores.

Owners interested in keeping any of the banned breeds find it very difficult to purchase and maintain them because even breeders avoid breeding the banned breeds of hamsters.

Are there campaigns for the legalization of banned hamster breeds in California?

Certainly, there are specific campaigns by groups and individuals advocating for a change in the ban on keeping hamsters in California.

These campaigns include petitions, lobbying, and similar activities promoting the benefits of keeping hamsters as household pets.

However, it’s early to talk about the success of these campaigns because successful advocacy requires public support, scientific evidence of the risks associated with keeping hamsters in domestic conditions, and changes in the laws regarding hamster keeping.why are hamsters banned in california

What should you do if you have a banned hamster in California?

If you already have a hamster in California and, for various reasons, were unaware of the law and the ban on keeping them, it’s best to talk to local authorities on how to resolve the issue.

You’ll likely need to give your hamster to someone in another state where hamster keeping is allowed or surrender it to local authorities.

In any case, it’s not advisable to continue illegally keeping a hamster because when discovered and reported to local authorities, you may face penalties according to the law regarding banned hamster keeping.

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Which other animals are illegal in California?

It’s not only hamsters that are banned from being kept in California; there are other animals you can’t keep without permission.

Here’s the list:

  • Squirrels
  • Gerbils
  • Ferrets
  • Hedgehogs
  • Monkeys
  • Minks
  • Foxes

Clearly, California’s laws are strict and do not permit keeping a large number of animals that could endanger the state’s ecosystem.

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Frequently Asked Questions

In which U.S. states is it not allowed to keep hamsters?

The following states in the U.S. do not allow keeping hamsters: California, Georgia, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. Keeping a hamster in these states could lead to legal penalties.

In which U.S. states is it allowed to keep hamsters?

In several U.S. states, it’s permitted to keep hamsters, including Nevada, Indiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Are hamsters allowed to be kept in New Zealand?

Unfortunately, hamsters are not allowed to be kept in New Zealand. They are banned in this country due to the risk of disrupting the local ecosystem and posing a threat to human health and other animal life.


Hamsters are banned from being kept in California; otherwise, you could face a fine of up to $1000 or a six-month prison sentence.

The only breeds of hamsters allowed for keeping are Syrian and dwarf hamsters.

If you do not comply with the law, your hamster will be confiscated, so it’s best not to attempt to secretly keep these small pets.

We hope that in the future, the law will change, and you’ll be free to keep any hamster breed in your home.

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