Arlington Co. considers ban on monkeys, crocodiles and other unusual pets

WASHINGTON — Arlington County officials are considering a ban on exotic pets that would make it illegal for residents to keep monkeys, crocodiles or lions in their homes.

The proposed measure covers a range of wild and exotic animals, including raccoons, skunks, wolves, coyotes, foxes, leopards, tigers, bears, wildcats as well as  squirrels, hedgehogs and sugar gliders.

The rule changes are first set to be taken up at a Feb. 25 board meeting. The board is then expected to ask the public to weigh in at a March 18 public hearing.

The proposed crackdown on exotic pets was not triggered by any recent incidents, said Kurt Larrick, with Arlington County’s Department of Human Services.

“The animal advocates in our community thought it was time to do this,” he told WTOP. The measure is backed by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Humane Society of the United States.

County regulations already ban keeping pigs, fowl and poisonous reptiles as pets.

The new measure would allow residents who currently own exotic pets to keep them even after the regulations go into effect provided they register them with county animal control officials. Failing to register would be a misdemeanor and carry a $250 fine for each offense, according to the proposal.

The county also wants to expand rules covering snakes. Current rules already prohibit venomous snakes. Now, the county wants to ban large nonpoisonous snakes larger than 4 feet in length.

Venomous snakes have been banned since 2008 after two escaped from an Arlington County residence.

Officials said the new rules would align with similar rules regarding exotic pets in D.C. and across Northern Virginia. The rules provide exemptions for zoological nature centers, scientific research centers, and properly licensed circuses.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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