Can You Own a Sloth in Texas? Is it legal as Pet

Can You Own a Sloth in Texas

Can You Own a Sloth in Texas as a pet? Texas is home to a wide variety of exotic animals, but one creature that’s notably absent from the Lone Star State is the sloth.

Slow-moving and famously sleepy, sloths captivate people with their unique features and behaviors. So why can’t you own a sloth as a pet in Texas?

Let’s take a closer look at the laws and reasons why sloths aren’t allowed in the state.

Can You Own a Sloth in Texas?

Can You Own a Sloth in Texas
Can You Own a Sloth in Texas

Yes, it is legal to own a pet sloth in Texas. The state has relatively lenient exotic animal ownership laws compared to other states.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allows possession of exotic animals like sloths as long as owners obtain the proper permits and can demonstrate they can adequately care for the animals.

You will need to apply for a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department before bringing home a pet sloth.

Permit requirements include providing details on the animal’s origins, submitting a photograph, describing housing arrangements and diet, and more. Annual permit renewals and inspections may also be necessary.

Sloth Facts

Let’s go over some quick facts about these mellow mammals:

  • There are two main species of sloth – the two-toed sloth and three-toed sloth. They are native to Central and South America.
  • Sloths spend most of their time hanging upside down from trees. Their bodies are adapted for this, with long limbs, hook-like claws, and flexible spines.
  • Sloths are incredibly slow movers. It can take them multiple days to travel just a few hundred feet. This slow pace helps them blend into the rainforest canopy.
  • Sloths sleep 15-20 hours per day and are active mainly at night. Their slow metabolism and low muscle mass contribute to their inert lifestyle.
  • Sloths have very low body temperatures for mammals – just 86-93 F when active. This helps them conserve energy.
  • They survive on a diet of leaves, fruit, and tender shoots. Digestion is slow due to their sluggish metabolism.
  • Lifespans are 10-20 years in the wild and up to 40 years in captivity.

Sloth Care Requirements

While sloths as pets may sound fun, they have very specific care requirements that prospective owners must be prepared to provide.


Sloths spend virtually their entire lives hanging upside down from tree branches. For a pet sloth, an indoor or outdoor enclosure with plenty of climbing branches, ropes, hammocks, and cubbies is essential. The enclosure should be large enough to accommodate a full range of motion and natural behaviors. Outdoor enclosures must protect the sloth from predators, weather fluctuations, and provide areas of sun and shade. Indoor enclosures should be humidity and temperature controlled.


Sloths have specialized diets consisting mainly of leafy greens, vegetables, and some fruits. They cannot survive on an average pet diet. Owners must be prepared to source fresh tropical foliage daily. Supplements are also recommended. Having an exotic animal veterinarian monitor a pet sloth’s diet is highly advised.


In the wild, sloths spend their days sleeping, feeding, and moving slowly through the rainforest canopy. Pet sloths require enrichment to stimulate natural wild behaviors and prevent boredom or stress. This includes branches, ropes, and hammocks for climbing, puzzle toys, sensory items, and interaction time outside their primary enclosure.


Sloths are incredibly inactive, but pet sloths still require some exercise time each day, whether climbing about their enclosure or supervised time exploring a sloth-proofed room. This helps prevent obesity and muscle deterioration. Caring for a pet sloth is demanding – from sourcing their specialized diet to providing habitat enrichment. It requires substantial commitment, time, and money.

Costs of Owning a Pet Sloth

Between purchase price, housing, diet, veterinary expenses, and enrichment needs, sloths are very costly exotic pets.

Purchase Price

$2,000 to $5,000 Factors impacting price include age, health/temperament, and species of sloth.

Supplies & Housing

Hundreds to thousands of dollars initially; ongoing costs
Large, specialized enclosure, climate control systems, substrate, climbing branches, ropes, toys, bedding, etc. Outdoor enclosures also require land space.


$500- $1,000+ annually
Daily fresh tropical foliage, vegetables, supplements

Veterinary Care

$100+ per visit, not including diagnostics or treatment
Wellness exams, lab work, medications, etc. Specialized vets are recommended.

Enrichment & Miscellaneous

$500+ annually
Enrichment items, cleaning supplies, time spent caring for pet The costs of properly caring for a pet sloth are substantial. Prospective owners must carefully budget for this long-term expense.

States That Allow Pet Sloths

StateSloth Ownership LawsAdditional Notes
AlabamaLegal to own a two-toed pet slothMust obtain health certificate for imported sloths
IndianaLegal with proper permitsPermit required from Dept. of Natural Resources
IowaLegal with health certificateImport permit required; some city bans exist
KansasLegal with permitsPermit from Wildlife & Parks Dept. required
KentuckyLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
MarylandLegalPermit from Dept. of Natural Resources required
MassachusettsLegalPermit from Division of Fisheries & Wildlife required
MichiganLegal with permitsPermit from Dept. of Natural Resources required
MinnesotaLegal with health certificateSome city/county bans; permit required
MississippiLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
MissouriLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
MontanaLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
NevadaLegalPermit from Dept. of Wildlife required
New YorkLegalPermit from Dept. of Environmental Conservation required
North CarolinaLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
OhioLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
OregonLegalNo state permit required, check local laws
South DakotaLegal with health certificateSome city/county bans may exist
TexasNOT LegalSloths prohibited exotic species in Texas
WashingtonLegalPermit from Dept. of Fish & Wildlife required
West VirginiaLegalPermit from Natural Resources Dept. required
WisconsinLegalNo state permit required, check local laws


What species of sloth makes the best pet?

The Linneaus’s two-toed sloth is most commonly kept as a pet. But all sloths have extensive specialized care requirements. There is no “ideal” pet sloth species.

Do sloths make good pets?

No, sloths do not make good pets. They have very specific dietary, environmental, and care needs that are difficult for average owners to meet. Sloths move slowly and sleep many hours per day, which some find boring. They require large, tall enclosures with climbing branches. Sloths also may carry diseases transmissible to humans. Overall, sloths are challenging to properly care for as pets. They are best left in the wild or zoos rather than kept as exotic pets.

Where can you go to hold a sloth in Texas?

In Texas, the main opportunities to hold or touch a sloth are at certain zoos and temporary animal encounters. Some locations where you can potentially interact with sloths in Texas include:
San Antonio Zoo – Offers behind-the-scenes sloth encounters on a limited basis
Abilene Zoo – Lets visitors touch and take photos with a sloth during private animal encounters
Animal encounter pop-up events – Traveling companies provide opportunities to hold sloths at temporary venues
Exotic petting zoos – May offer sloth interactions at events, fairs, parties, etc.

About Dr Sunil Jindal MS DNB MNAMS

Scientific Director & Chief Endo-Laparoscopic Surgeon & Male Infertility Specialist at Jindal Hospital & Dr. Madhu Jindal Memorial Test Tube Baby Center
Vice Chairperson – Delhi ISAR (Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction)
Vice Chairperson – Indian Association of GynaecologicalEndoscopists
Past Executive Council Member of Indian Association of Gastro-Endoscopic Surgeons.
Vast experience of over 5000 cases of laparoscopic &hysteroscopic surgeries, infertility enhancing, hysterectomies, myomectomiesand male reproductive surgeries with special interest in endometriosis & deep endometriosis.
Have trained a lot of people in andrology, laboratory & clinic work, reproductive surgeries and reproductive endocrinology.
We hold regular workshops
Have been invited as national faculty in a number of National & International Conferences
Scientific Director & Chief Endo-Laparoscopic surgeon & male infertility Specialist&Andrologist at Jindal Hospital & Dr. Madhu Jindal Memorial Test Tube Baby Center.
Have special interest in microsurgical, endomicrosurgicalandrology and surgery for impotence.
Also interest in laboratory work in andrology including ICSI, and TESA, PESA ICSI.
We have to our credit the first ICSI baby of our region, the first ICSI twins, ICSI triplets followed by successful foetal reduction, first TESA/PESA baby, first surrogate pregnancy of the region, first twin IUI baby after successful tubal recannalization surgery to name only a few achievements.
Regular columnist of ‘DainikJagran’ the leading Hindi newspaper of the region & Times of India.
Regular organizer of various IUI workshop & CME for post graduate doctors.
Publish a monthly newsletter from the hospital.
He has put Meerut on the international ART map by having to his credit the delivery of twins in a genetically male patient by ICSI. His efforts were applauded by both the national & international media & were covered by both Times of India & Indian Express as their front page news.
Invited lecturer in more than 250 national & international conferences.
Has been the main organizer of workshops on male infertility in various conferences.

Author in national & international medical books on male infertility such as-:
Chapter on Surgical Management of Male Infertility in Donald School Textbook on Human Reproduction and Gynecological Endocrinology,
Role of Surgery in Male Infertility in Practical Guide in Reproductive Surgery ISAR 2018,
Optimizing the Sperm in ISAR Express,
Semen Analysis – an Overview in Current Concepts in Obstetrics, Gynecology & Infertility Update 2017.
Evaluation of the Male Infertility Factors in Decision making in Infertility 2020.
Male Hypogonadism in Decision making in Infertility 2020.
Participating in 2 major studies in India & Abroad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *