Jason Stephens | December 22, 2020 | Personal Injury
Texas does not regulate the ownership of some exotic animals as strictly as other states. Therefore, while it might be illegal to own a sloth in other states, you can legally buy a baby sloth as a pet in Texas.
However, before you rush to an exotic pet store to buy a sloth, there are some things that you might want to consider. Just because you can own a sloth as a pet in Texas, it does not necessarily mean that sloths make good pets.
Sloths are Wild Animals
Even though a sloth appears cute and cuddly, sloths are not domesticated pets. They are wild animals that live in the tropical forests of South and Central America. They live most of their lives hanging upside down in trees.
A sloth generally sleeps about 20 hours each day. On average, they are about the size of a small dog. They can weigh up to 17 pounds and grow to be 2.5 feet long.
Sloths are thought to be “lazy” animals. However, they merely have an extremely low metabolism. They only come down from their trees about once a week to go to the bathroom.
Also, a sloth can become quite fierce when threatened. Sloths have sharp teeth and claws. When attacked or threatened, they can do a lot of damage to a predator or a person.
Sloths are also solitary animals. They do not require nor like attention. They do not like being held or played with like other pets.
Owning a pet sloth is a considerable obligation. They require a special diet and habitat, and they can live in captivity for more than 20 years. You may also find it difficult to locate a veterinarian in your area that will provide care for a sloth.
If your sloth bites or scratches someone, you could be legally liable for damages. You could also be liable for damages if your sloth attacks another animal or causes the death of a person or other animal.
What are the Texas Laws Related to Exotic Animals?
A sloth is considered an exotic animal. An exotic animal is generally considered a wild animal that is not bred as a pet or domesticated. For an exotic animal to become domesticated, it could take numerous generations of breeding and taming.
In Texas, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife controls the possession of animals throughout the state. The state defines exotic animals as animals that are not indigenous to the state. While most laws govern what animals people can and cannot hunt throughout the state, some laws make it illegal to own specific types of animals in Texas.
Texas law bans people from owning some types of animals, but sloths are not on that list. Individuals who wish to own an exotic pet or wild animal may need to apply for a license or certificate of registration. There could be various requirements, such as proving you have adequate security to protect the general public.
It is important to check with local governments to determine if county or city regulations or laws apply to ownership of a wild or exotic animal. You may also want to check with your homeowner’s insurance company before purchasing an exotic animal. Ownership of a wild or exotic animal could violate the insurance contract.
What Should I Do if a Sloth or Other Animal Injures My Child or Me?
Pet owners have a responsibility to protect other people from being attacked or injured by their pets. If they have dogs or other animals on the property that are aggressive, they should have warning signs on the property. Likewise, if they have a pet inside the home, they should take steps to restrain the pet or warn visitors before they enter their home.
Depending on the situation, premises liability laws might apply if a dog or other animal attacks you. General negligence claims may also apply.
If another person’s pet or animal injures you or your child, report the injury immediately to the pet owner. Seek medical attention for your injuries. Delays in medical care could hurt your personal injury claim.
A personal injury lawyer can review your claim and explain your legal right to compensation for your injuries. The types of damages that might be available in a dog bite or other animal attack claim include:
- Cost of medical care and treatment for injuries
- Loss of income and benefits because you cannot work
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent impairments, such as nerve damage
- Emotional distress and trauma
Attacks by wild or exotic animals, and even domesticated animals, can cause catastrophic injuries and substantial damages. Seeking medical care and legal advice as soon as possible is the best way to hold the person responsible for your injuries legally liable for your damages.