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Keeping a wild animal as a pet

No. You can’t. Here are the reasons why not:

Keeping a sick, injured or orphaned wild animal

Whether the animal you’ve found is sick, injured, or orphaned, it needs help. Just like an injured dog needs to see a veterinarian, and a sick person needs to see a doctor, a wild animal needs the care of a wildlife rehabilitator. Wild animals have very specific medical, dietary, social, and environmental requirements.  These vary according to age and species, and can be difficult to replicate. Even a few days with the wrong care can ruin a wild animal’s chances of ever being able to survive in the wild.

Wild animals have wild instincts

Domestication is a process that takes many generations. Our pet animals like dogs and cats have had their wild instincts bred out of them over centuries of living alongside humans.  Wild animals are a very different story.

Baby wild animals can appear cute and friendly, but when they reach sexual maturity they start to display aggressive, destructive behaviours that can be dangerous to people and to themselves. These are the instincts they are born with.

Many well-meaning people who have raised a wild baby reach out to wildlife rehabilitators at this stage, thinking it’s the perfect time to release the wild animal they’ve raised.  Sadly by this time it’s usually too late—the animal has missed its developmental windows for learning social behaviour and acquiring survival skills. It will never be able to survive in the wild, but it is still too wild to ever be happy or safe in captivity.

Keeping wild animals as pets is cruel

Wild animals deserve to live a life in the wild. It may seem exciting and exotic to have a wild animal as a pet, but it isn’t fair to the animal. Their freedom and their natural environment are essential to their quality of life.  Remember that wild animals view humans as predators – being in captivity can be terrifying and stressful to them.

If you know of a situation involving a wild animal that has been raised by humans, do not release it. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice. 

Keeping wild animals as pets is illegal

In most cases, it is actually illegal to keep wild animals as pets. Federal, provincial, and municipal laws may be involved depending on where you live and the species in question.

Domestic animals need your love

There are always thousands of domestic animals in shelters across Ontario that need homes – animals that would love to be a part of your family! After you’ve dropped the wild animal you’ve found off at a wildlife rehabilitation centre, why not visit your local humane society or shelter to see if there’s a pet who would like to make friends?

Want to be close to wild animals?

If you are interested in working with wild animals, contact us (or a wildlife rehabilitator in your area) about volunteering. We have volunteer opportunities in nearly every area of our programming, from animal care to fundraising, and would be glad to talk with you about how you can help. Our volunteer coordinator can be reached at (416) 631-0662 x3211, or by email.