Are Ferrets Legal in Iowa?

If you are considering getting a ferret as a pet in Iowa, it is important to know whether they are legal or not. While ferrets make lovable and playful companions for many, their status as pets can vary from state to state due to concerns about public health and safety.

In Iowa, the ownership of domesticated ferrets is legal with certain restrictions. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) regulates the possession of ferrets within the state.

Prior to 2017, owning a pet ferret was illegal in Iowa. However, an amendment passed that year has made it possible for individuals over the age of 18 to keep domesticated ferrets as long as they adhere to specific requirements:


Anyone owning a pet ferret in Iowa must obtain an annual license from IDALS. This license helps ensure proper recordkeeping and identification of individuals who own these animals.


All licensed owners must have their pet ferrets vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian annually. This regulation aims at protecting both humans and other animals from potential outbreaks while also safeguarding the welfare of these furry friends.


Ferrets purchased after January 1, 2020 must be sterilized surgically unless kept for breeding purposes by licensed breeders who follow additional regulations set by IDALS.

While understanding the legality surrounding owning a pet ferret is crucial when living in Iowa, responsible ownership goes beyond mere compliance with laws. Here are some important considerations:

Proper Accommodation

Ferrets are highly energetic and curious animals. Owners must provide a suitable living environment that allows them to explore, play, and exercise safely. A well-constructed cage with appropriate bedding, toys, and hiding spots is essential for their comfort.


A balanced diet is crucial for the health of your ferret. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, which means they require a diet high in animal protein and low in carbohydrates. Commercially available ferret food or raw diets formulated specifically for them should be provided.

Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary check-ups are important to ensure your ferret remains healthy. Ferrets may require vaccinations beyond rabies such as distemper shots, along with routine examinations to catch any potential health issues early on.

In summary, owning a ferret has become legal in Iowa since 2017 under certain regulations set by IDALS. By following licensing requirements, vaccinating against rabies annually, and sterilizing non-breeding pets purchased after January 1st, 2020 individuals can enjoy the company of these playful creatures while also ensuring their welfare and protecting public health at the same time!