Wildlife Don’t Make Good Pets

Sometimes people find wildlife that they would like to keep as a pet. What they may not know is that in most cases it is illegal to keep wildlife as a pet in Illinois. This is because most wildlife in Illinois are protected by the Wildlife Code, and they cannot be kept in captivity without a permit.

This rule is to protect people and wildlife.

  • Wildlife can be carriers of disease that can be transmitted to people or domestic pets.
  • Wildlife can inflict serious injuries with their teeth, claws, or bills.
  • As they mature, many species end up becoming more than people can (or want to) handle. When these wild “pets” are then released into the wild, they can cause problems for others because they are habituated to receiving food from people.

If you have found an injured or orphaned animal, you may contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. In most cases it is best to leave the animal or bird where you found it and let nature take its course. “If you care, leave it there.”

For more information or permit requests, contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildllife at

a rabbit in the garden