Why is it illegal to own a hamster in Hawaii? Read why here!

Hawaii has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and the people are very friendly. So, why is it illegal to own a Hamster in Hawaii?

Did you know that Hamsters and some other small animals are actually banned from entering the island of Hawaii? It’s true!

It seems strange that the cute little hamster is so feared on the island – but for what reason? I hear you ask.

Why is it illegal to own a hamster in Hawaii? Hawaii has a very delicate wildlife and plant life population. The fear with hamsters is that they will escape into the countryside and feed off endangered plants and small critters. There are many endangered species living on the island of Hawaii and any non-native species released into the wild could jeopardize these delicate species.

What are the pet laws in Hawaii?

The strict pet laws in Hawaii are there to protect the natural ecosystem and environment. If hamsters or similar pets were to escape in to the area they could establish wild colonies and damage crops, native plants and animals.

Hawaii’s exotic animal laws and quarantine regulations protect their native plant and animal life. For more information on Hawaii’s strict animal importation rules visit: Department of Agriculture of Hawaii.

Contact info:

Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Animal Quarantine Station

99-951 Halawa Valley Street

Aiea, Hawaii 96701-5602

Phone: (808) 483-7151

Web site: www.hawaiiag.org/hdoa/ai_aqs_info.htm

cute picture of a hamster
Cute Hamster but illegal in hawaii

Which pets are banned in Hawaii?

Hamsters are not the only small pet that is prohibited on the beautiful island of Hawaii. Many of the pets below have no natural predators in Hawaii. Hence the fear that if they escape into the countryside they would quickly colonize and damage the natural wildlife balance.

Here’s a list of animals that are not welcomed in Hawaii:

  • Hermit Crabs: They can carry parasites and could have a huge impact on native crabs and other crustaceans.
  • Gerbils: Same reason as hamsters. The fear that they will escape and colonize in huge numbers.
  • Ferrets: Hawaii has long been a rabies-free island and Ferrets have been known to carry the rabies virus. As a result, they are disliked and banned from many states including Hawaii.
  • Bengal Cats (Hybrid Cats) Hybrid cats are a cross between wild and domestic cats. The fear is they could impact endemic bird populations.
  • Snakes: All species and types of snakes are illegal to own in Hawaii. With no native predators, snakes could pose a big threat to the indigenous ground-nesting birds and other native species found on the island of Hawaii.
  • Certain Parakeets: Some Parakeets are banned because they flock in huge numbers and would pose a high risk to crops.
  • Snapping Turtles: The fear is that they will populate local streams and natural water pools.
  • Alligators: This one needs no explanation.
  • Piranhas: If released into the freshwaters of Hawaii they could breed and cause a risk to Humans, insects, fish and small animals that enter the water.

It’s not just some pets that are banned from Hawaii. Some live tropical fish foods, such as Bloodworms are also not allowed.

For a complete list of banned pets click here!

national flag of hawaii
National Flag of Hawaii

What’re the consequences if found in possession of a hamster?

Being found in possession of one of these pets, the most likely outcome is that the pet will be removed immediately. You will be served with a notice to never keep these pets again or face a fine and prosecution.

If this is not the first time you have been caught, or the authorities feel you knew the law and just ignored it, you could face one of the consequences below:

  • A civil fine of $500 – $10,000, plus the costs of the animal’s removal, storage and care, and/or
  • Criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Taking pets to Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the few places that can say they have been rabies-free for a long time. They would like it to stay that way. Hence, their strict pet laws on ownership and importation. Since 1912 they have followed strict quarantine laws which have so far seen the beautiful Island stay rabies-free.

Ensure your paperwork is in order before traveling and contact the Department of Agriculture of Hawaii before traveling with your pet. The animal inspection office is only open from 8.00 AM – 5.00 PM.

Follow some simple rules and procedures and your pet should be eligible for direct release without quarantine­.

You’ll need:

  • Health Certificate obtained within 14 days of travel and signed by a government-accredited veterinarian. This certifies that your pet is free of external parasites and signs of transmissible disease.
  • Affidavit swearing your pet did not leave your country of origin within the past 6 months.
  • An affidavit from the plane’s captain or a senior station official swearing your pet traveled on a single aircraft. OR a signed affidavit detailing the circumstances under which your pet changed planes.
  • Make sure that you can seal your pet travel carrier. The seal must break when you remove your pet. The travel carrier must meet the IATA standards for cargo/baggage travel
  • Separate Guam Affidavit, if appropriate.

Follow this link for all the fees involved for taking a pet into Hawaii.

Which pets are safe to keep in Hawaii?

It may seem from the list of illegal pets listed above that Hawaiians don’t like pets but this is totally untrue. They love their pets but are also mindful of their natural animal and plant wildlife and like any of us, they want to keep that natural balance in place on this amazing and unique part of the world.

They especially love their dogs which also have strict rules on keeping them on a lead, dog fighting and other laws and rules.

Of the hundreds of pets you could choose to keep, the ones listed above are only a small part of the pet world. Therefore you still have plenty of cute pet options to choose from.

Conclusion: Why is it illegal to keep hamsters in Hawaii?

So, do we agree why hamsters are illegal in Hawaii? Yes, Absolutely. The land in Hawaii replicates the hamsters natural desert home. They would without question feel at home on the island.

Within a few short years there they would colonize and breed like wildfire. The authorities may have to consider culling which no one wants.

Hamsters and Gerbils are amazing pets and we love them, but would not owning one stop me from moving to Hawaii? No, I would be off like a shot to have the chance to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

I would simply choose a pet that is legal and within the law to keep.