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Are exotic animals legal to own in the Las Vegas valley?

Posted at 9:38 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 02:59:24-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Exotic cats may be cute to have as pets, but the Humane Society wants to remind people that they’re still wild animals.

One such wild cat, believed to be an African serval by authorities, was recently captured in North Las Vegas near Ann Road and Clayton Street. It’s sparking a community discussion on whether or not you are allowed to even own one.

RELATED: Unusual cat captured by Animal Protection Services in North Las Vegas

The short answer is it depends on where you live if you are allowed to have a wild cat as a pet, but regardless of your location, there’s no doubt they could be dangerous.

The Nevada state director at the national Humane Society says Tuesday's encounter with the serval could have played out very differently.

"Just the fact that this animal was recovered without harm to them or members of the community is just sheer luck," said Jeff Dixon.


"Most exotic animals that are kept as pets are confined to backyards, basements, garages and barely living a boring life avoiding anything that they would find in the wild," he said. "So it's no wonder they take any opportunity to escape."

However, exotic animals are legal to have as a pet in most places in Nevada.

In unincorporated Clark County, exotic pet owners need to have a permit. This is also true for the City Of Las Vegas.

But in North Las Vegas, exotic cats are illegal, according to the city code:

6.10.040 - Keeping or Exhibiting of Wild Animals.A. No person may exhibit in public or keep on public or private property any wild animal.B. For purposes of this section and this title, "wild animal" means an animal that traditionally has not lived in a state of dependence upon humans or has not traditionally been kept as a household pet. Such animals include, but are not limited to, raccoons, monkeys, skunks, lions, tigers, bobcats, deer, bears, opossums, beavers, bats, etcetera.

“The fact that virtually anybody, yourself or myself included, could go out and get one, and maybe have to get a permit but the permit wouldn't be that hard to get," said Dixon, "[we just need to] show that we have insurance -- that's a big problem."

"A lot of times these animals live miserable lives compared to what they live in the wild," he said.

If you have a wild cat, check the area where you live to see if you're in compliance with the law.

Click here for information from the City of Las Vegas.

Click here for more information from the City of North Las Vegas.

Click here for information from the City of Henderson.

Click here for information from Clark County.