How Do You Legally Own a Pet Giant Pouched Rat?

In 2003, due to concerns about disease, the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control banned the keeping of African pouched rats as pets within the United States, according to Right Pet. In 2008, the ban on keeping the rats was lifted, but a ban on importing the rats is still in effect, as of 2014.

Because of the ban on importing African pouched rats, only rats bred in the United States are legal to purchase and keep as pets. Although there is no longer a country-wide ban on keeping African pouched rats as pets, each state and individual locality may have its own regulations about the keeping of African pouched rats. For example, Gambian pouched rats are prohibited in the entire state of Kentucky, according to Born Free USA. No other state appears to have a global restriction on the keeping of African pouched rats according to Born Free USA. Some states or localities may require owners to purchase licenses to keep pet African pouched rats.

The Gambian pouched rat has established a wild population in the Florida Keys following an accidental release from pet breeders in 1999. The United States Department of Agriculture warns that if these rats get established on the mainland they may cause extensive damage to agriculture.