13 Places Where It’s Illegal To Own a Toucan (Explained)

A toucan can make an excellent pet, but they also require special care. Not everyone has the necessary facilities and expertise to take good care of a toucan.

They can also carry diseases that spread to native animal species or humans. For various reasons, it’s illegal to own a toucan in several states and countries.

It’s illegal to own a toucan in at least 13 countries and states due to concerns about the exotic pet trade and the fact that toucans can carry foreign pathogens. Toucans are illegal in Hawaii, Maine, Arkansas, Ohio, and Oregon. In other places, you can only keep them legally if you have a permit.

Why Is It Illegal To Own a Toucan in Other States and Countries?

It’s illegal to own a toucan in many places for two major reasons:

  • The need to protect toucans
  • The protection of native species

Toucans are considered exotic pets and often require a permit, even in places where you’re free to own them as pets.

Owning a toucan without the proper permit is regarded as a severe offense in some areas of the world.

It’s illegal to own a toucan in the following states and countries:


It’s illegal to own a toucan in Hawaii, except in government zoos for exhibition. This law is in place to preserve native species and prevent outside species from becoming invasive.

Other animals you can’t keep as pets in Hawaii include alligators, geckos, and snapping turtles. 


In Maine, it’s illegal to own, import, exhibit, rehabilitate, or propagate toucans unless you have a government-issued permit that states otherwise.

Maine doesn’t typically allow the private ownership of exotic animals that rely on professional facilities for survival. The exceptions to the rule are researchers, rehabilitators, and educational exhibitors. 


It’s illegal to possess a toucan in Arkansas unless you have written documentation that the owner obtained the bird legally and that the bird has been checked by a veterinarian, proven to be free of parasites or diseases that could harm native wildlife.

This legislation ensures that toucans aren’t smuggled through inhumane and illegal avenues and that native species aren’t put at risk.


Some species of toucans are endangered or threatened, like the Yellow-browed toucanet. As such, ownership of these kinds of toucans requires a special letter of permission in Ohio.

Without this letter, it’s illegal to own a pet toucan in the state. However, other kinds of toucans that aren’t endangered or threatened are safe to keep as pets in Ohio without a letter.


In Oregon, it’s illegal to own a toucan unless you obtain a permit from the State Department of Agriculture.

That’s because toucans aren’t native to the area and don’t fall into the categories of exempt species in the laws against keeping exotic animals as pets.

Generally, permits are reserved for researchers, rehabilitation facilities, and zoos.


Private ownership of a toucan or any other exotic pet is illegal in the state of Alaska. Additionally, it’s illegal to import, release, or export exotic pets.

These rules include all animals not explicitly listed as “domestic” under Alaskan law. 


Owning a toucan can earn you a misdemeanor charge in California, as they’re considered exotic pets that may threaten the health and safety of native wildlife due to the pathogens they may carry.

However, this law doesn’t apply to any pets possessed before January 1992 due to recent changes in legislation. 


In some cases, it’s illegal to own a toucan or other tropical bird in Colorado. These cases include any time that the bird hasn’t been properly vetted.

In other words, these birds must be examined by veterinarians and determined to be disease-free, and you have to prove they’ve been sourced from ethical breeders.


In Delaware, it’s illegal to own a toucan if captured from the wild unless you have a special permit that allows you to do so.

This law protects the well-being of birds threatened by the pet trade and prevents the spread of infectious diseases.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Toucans are among the many exotic animals illegal to possess privately in the UAE.

This rule stems from a new law introduced in 2017 to reduce the trade and ownership of exotic animals to protect the health and well-being of these animals and their owners. 


In Finland, it’s illegal to own a pet toucan captured from the wild and then imported to the country.

To keep a toucan as a pet, you need to prove that your bird was bred in captivity under humane conditions, not captured from the wild.


In Estonia, toucans are a protected wild species that can’t be kept as a pet unless you can prove that you’re capable of providing an appropriate living environment.

That includes a suitable climate, adequate care, and the administration of proper veterinary care. 


Owning a toucan is illegal in Portugal because it’s considered a species that poses an ecological risk to native species.

This risk is primarily due to the pathogens that toucans can carry and spread to native species more than it’s due to the spread of toucans themselves.

Why Are There Laws Against Owning Toucans?

The most common reasons for banning the ownership of toucans are for protecting these species and protecting wildlife native to the area. 

For example, some places have laws against the ownership of toucans to protect the birds from the inhumane pet trade.

Others have done the same to discourage the spread of avian diseases or invasive parasites to local species or even humans.

There are strict laws about owning toucans in several places. Here’s a taste for why:

Are Toucans Endangered?

Most species of toucans aren’t endangered, except for the Yellow-browed toucanet.

However, many are at “threatened” status, primarily due to habitat destruction, hunting, and capture for the pet trade.

In some places, there are laws against owning toucans to discourage the capture of these birds for trade purposes.

Pathogens Carried by Pet Toucans

Toucans and other exotic pets can transmit foreign bacteria and parasites unfamiliar to native species, making them more dangerous.

These pathogens pose not just a risk to other animals but also humans. 75% of new infectious diseases start spreading through transmission from nonhumans. 

Among the diseases that toucans can spread are salmonella and avian tuberculosis, both of which carry a risk to humans and other birds.

They can also spread Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), which wiped out flocks of poultry birds in the U.S. in the 1970s. 

Stopping the Illegal Pet Trade

Some laws against private ownership of toucans are geared at stopping the illegal exotic pet trade.

These laws are in place to protect the birds’ well-being and often have exceptions for cases where the owner can prove that their toucan was bred in captivity by a humane breeder. 


It’s illegal to own a toucan in at least 13 countries and states. That’s because some toucans are considered threatened or endangered species vulnerable to the pet trade.

Toucans can also carry exotic pathogens that pose a risk to native species. In places where it’s legal to own a toucan, you’ll often need a permit.