Pet Shop Regulations and Policies

Pet Shop Licensing and Inspection Program

The Division of Animal Health has the statutory responsibility to license all pet shops. Pet shop inspections are required for licensure and annual re-licensure of all Massachusetts pet shops .Each establishment must meet facilities requirements outlined in 330 CMR 12.00 in order to receive a license. These requirements are in place to protect the health of the animals, as well as that of the visiting public and the employees who work in these shops.


Pet Shop Statutes

General Law Chapter 129 Section 39A: Pet shops; licensing operation; animal health inspections

Section 39A. Every person engaged in the business of operating a pet shop, shall obtain a license therefor from the director, the fee for which shall be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section three B of chapter seven for the filing thereof, and such license shall expire on December thirty-first following the date of issuance, unless sooner revoked. The director, subject to the approval of the governor, may make rules and regulations governing the issuance and revocation of such licenses and the conduct of the businesses so licensed and relative to the maintenance of premises, buildings and conveyances, the health of the birds, mammals or reptiles and the method and time of inspection and checking of said animals.

This section shall not apply to a publicly or privately owned zoological park, a publicly owned animal pound, an institution, as defined in section one of chapter forty-nine A, to persons selling, exchanging or otherwise transferring the offspring of their personally owned animals, or to horse or cattle auctions.


Pet Shop Regulations

12.01: Definitions
12.02: Licenses
12.03: Facilities
12.04: General Care of Animals
12.05: Restriction on Sale
12.06: Quarantine
12.07: Isolation
12.08: Inspection
12.09: Records
12.01: Definitions.
For the purposes of 330 CMR 12.00, the terms below shall have the following meanings:
Department. The Department of Food and Agriculture.
Hobby Breeder. A person engaged in the incidental breeding and subsequent sale, barter or exchange
of the offspring of no more than three personally owned breeding females.
Impervious. A non-porous, impermeable surface through which a liquid will not be allowed to pass
but upon which water will bead.
Person. Any individual, corporation, partnership, association or other business organization.
Pet Shop. Any place or premise where birds, mammals, or reptiles are kept for the purpose of either
wholesale or retail sale, import, export, barter, exchange or gift.
Taxonomic derivation. The Latin nomenclature for the genus and species.
12.02: Licenses
(1) No person shall operate a pet shop within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without a license
issued by the Department.
(2) A complete application for a license or renewal of license shall be submitted to the Department
and shall be accompanied by the required fee.
(3) Upon receipt of an application, the Department shall inspect the applicant's facilities. If the
Department finds the facilities in compliance with 330 CMR 12.03, the Department shall approve the
application and issue a license. Each license shall expire on December 31st of that year.
(4) The license shall be promptly posted on the premises in a place prominently visible to the public.
(5) The Department may deny a license to any applicant whose facilities fail to comply with 330 CMR
12.03. An applicant whose license has been denied may submit a written request for a hearing within
21 business days following notification of the Department's decision to deny the license.
(6) The Department may revoke or suspend a license after a full or fair hearing, and upon finding that
the licensee has:
(a) Violated any provision of M.G.L. c. 129, § 9 or 39A, or any regulation promulgated
thereunder or convicted of a violation of M.G.L. c. 272, § 77;
(b) Made a material misstatement in the application for a license or in a renewal application;
(c) Assisted another in the violation of M.G.L. c. 129, § 39A or 330 CMR 12.00;
12.02: continued
(d) Made a misrepresentation or false promise through advertisements in connection with the pet
shop's operation;
(e) Dispensed prescription medication to accompany an animal at the time of sale; or
(f) Violated a quarantine order.
12.03: Facilities.
(1) General Facilities. All licensees shall:
(a) Maintain all buildings and premises in good repair and in a sanitary condition;
(b) Maintain and use equipment in a manner which ensures the proper storage or disposal of
wastes or disease-contaminated material for the purpose of controlling vermin, insects, the spread
of disease and obnoxious odors;
(c) Take effective control measures to prevent infestation of animals and premises with external
parasites and vermin; and
(d) Provide and maintain artificial illumination in all areas and rooms in which animals are kept.
The artificial illumination shall be well distributed and adequate to provide efficient inspection and
cleaning of facilities, enclosures, cages and animals. All cages and enclosures in use shall be placed
in a manner which protects the animals contained from excessive or stressful illumination.
(2) Quarantine/Isolation Rooms. All licensees shall:
(a) Provide a room to be used for the purposes of quarantining sick or diseased animals as
required by 330 CMR 12.06(2) and (3) or isolating newly acquired dogs and cats as required by
330 CMR 12.07;
(b) Ensure that quarantined sick or diseased animals and isolated newly acquired dogs and cats
are not maintained in the quarantine/isolation room simultaneously;
(c) Ensure that quarantine/isolation rooms in addition to complying with the requirements of 330
CMR 12.03(1) and (3) are:
1. Physically separated from rooms used to maintain other animals;
2. Completely enclosed by walls that extend from floor to ceiling;
3. Equipped with an exhaust fan that serves to efficiently remove air from the room to an area
outside the building;
4. Equipped with a sink having hot and cold running water used exclusively for the cleaning
and maintenance of the quarantine/isolation room, all equipment and utensils used therein, and
animals housed within the room;
5. Not used to house or maintain other animals;
6. Thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after quarantined or isolated animals have been
removed and prior to the placement of additional animals into the room; and
7. Not used for storage of food, containers, bowls, dishes, cages or other equipment that
come in contact with other animals;
(d) Ensure that any person who feeds, waters, cleans, treats or handles quarantined or isolated
animals or disease-contaminated equipment or material shall, before handling healthy animals or
uncontaminated equipment or materials, thoroughly wash their hands with a disinfectant detergent.
Contaminated outerwear shall be removed prior to handling healthy animals or uncontaminated
equipment or material; and
(e) Ensure that any employee restroom or public access area is not used as a quarantine\ isolation
(3) Animal Facilities. Any area where an animal is housed or maintained shall be:
(a) Cleaned and disinfected daily or more often if necessary to maintain a sanitary condition;
(b) Of adequate size and space to permit:
1. The animal(s) housed therein to stand, sit, lie down, turn around and make other normal
postural adjustments without obstruction, interference or impediment by the presence of food
and water bowls or cage mates; and
2. The bird(s) within to fly, hop or otherwise move about, individually spread their wings and
simultaneously and freely from obstruction perch in a normal position;
(c) Appropriate to provide the ambient temperature required for the animal considering its
species, health, and age;
(d) Constructed in accordance with the following provisions:
12.03: continued
1. Any wall shall be impervious to moisture from the floor to a height of four feet;
2. The floor shall be impervious to moisture;
3. Any material used shall be resistant to rusting;
4. If the cage or enclosure has a wire floor, then the wire used shall be of adequate gauge to
prevent sagging or injury to an animal's feet, and the mesh shall be small enough to prevent an
animal's feet from falling through the bottom; and
(e) Designed to permit the unimpeded access of the animal(s) to clean, fresh food and water.
12.04: General Care of Animals
All licensees shall ensure that:
(1) Sufficient fresh food of a type consistent with the dietary requirements and age of the species is
offered to each animal daily, or at intervals commonly appropriate to a species and age of the animal(s);
(2) Sufficient fresh and clean water is available to each animal at all times;
(3) Bowls, dishes and other containers used for the feeding and watering of animals are cleaned daily
or more often if necessary to maintain them free from contamination of excrement or urine;
(4) The licensee or agent is present for general care and maintenance of the animals at least once
(5) If animals are group housed, they are maintained in compatible groups without overcrowding;
(6) No female dog, cat or rabbit in season is maintained in a cage, run, pen or other enclosure with
any male dog or cat, other than for breeding purposes;
(7) Food and water containers for birds are designed to permit easy access to the contents. These
containers shall be either designed or located within the cage in a manner that serves to minimize their
contamination from excrement; and
(8) The animals are kept clean and dry unless species-specific requirements dictate an aquatic or
semiaquatic environment. Animals that fall within either of the latter two classifications shall be
maintained in an environment that contains both aquatic and terrestrial features. Each feature shall be
of sufficient size and space to permit the animal the option of submerging or soaking in clean water or
remaining completely dry.
12.05: Restriction on Sale
(1) No licensee shall display, offer for sale, sell or give away any animal with obvious signs of any of
the following conditions:
(a) Infectious diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, rabies or other similar infectious
diseases, but not including any incubating diseases;
(b) Nutritional diseases including but not limited to, rickets, emaciation, and hypo-vitaminosis;
(c) Obvious signs of severe parasitism which is impacting the general health of the animal;
(d) Fractures, lameness or congenital abnormalities affecting the general health of animal;
(e) Metabolic disease including, but not limited to, kidney disease and diabetes;
(2) No licensee shall:
(a) Display any reptile, amphibian or invertebrate for sale without posting its Taxonomic
derivation, or display any dog under six months of age for sale without posting, in a place readily
visible to the consumer where dogs are available for sale, a sign which states the following in black
lettering not less than thirty-eight point size upon a white background: "THE FOLLOWING
12.05: continued
(b) Acquire, display, offer for sale, sell or give away any dog or cat which is less than eight weeks
of age;
(c) Sell or give away any dog or cat:
1. unless the licensee is in possession of a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian
dated not more than seven calendar days previous to the sale or give away; or
2. which has been returned to the licensee due to its failure to pass a veterinary examination
after its sale to a purchaser, unless a new licensed veterinarian’s health certificate, dated after
the date of the return, has been issued to the licensee; or
3. which is under a quarantine order, issued under the authority of M.G.L. c. 129, §§ 11, 21
and 22.
(3) All licensees shall provide a substitution or a full refund of the purchase price of any dog or cat
to any purchaser who:
(a) within 14 calendar days of sale has the dog or cat examined by a licensed veterinarian of his
or her choice, and the examination indicates the dog or cat is diseased or has a congenital disorder;
(b) presents the dog or cat, a veterinarian's written statement that the dog or cat is diseased or
has a congenital disorder, and proof of sale within two business days of the date of the examination.
12.06: Quarantine
(1) The Department may order a quarantine be placed on the entire premises of a licensee, on a
specific species, on a special group of animals or an individual animal for any of the following:
(a) Excessive parasitism;
(b) General malnutrition;
(c) Presence of contagious disease on premises;
(d) The importation of any dog or cat into Massachusetts in violation of M.G.L. c. 140, § 138A,
or 330 CMR 4.06;
(2) Any animal which the Department has ordered quarantined shall be maintained in a facility meeting
the requirements of 330 CMR 12.03(2).
(3) Any animal inflicted with any of the conditions of 330 CMR 12.05(1) shall be kept in a facility
meeting the requirements of 330 CMR 12.03(2).
12.07: Isolation
All licensees shall:
(1) Isolate all dogs and cats received from sources within or outside of the Commonwealth in a room
meeting the requirements of 330 CMR 12.03(2) for a minimum period of 48 hours prior to being
offered for sale, barter, gift or other exchange;
(2) Introduce no new dogs or cats into this room during the 48-hour isolation period; and
(3) Have each dog or cat checked by a licensed veterinarian after the 48-hour isolation period is
complete and prior to offer for sale, barter, gift or other exchange.
12.08: Inspection
Animal records and premises shall be open for inspection by duly authorized agents of the
Department, the M.S.P.C.A. and the Animal Rescue League of Boston during reasonable hours.
Copies of these records shall be maintained and be available at the premise where the animals are sold.
12.09: Records
(1) All licensees shall retain records of each retail or wholesale purchase, sale or give away of any
dog, cat or psittacine bird for a period of 12 months after the date of purchase, sale or give away of
the dog, cat or psittacine bird. Records shall include the following:
(a) Identity of each dog, cat or psittacine bird entering the premises;
(b) Name and address of person(s) from whom each dog, cat or psittacine bird was obtained,
date obtained, and city/town and state where each dog under six months of age was born;
(c) Name and address of person(s) to whom each dog, cat or psittacine bird was sold or given
to and the date of sale or give away;
(d) Type and date of any vaccination or treatment given by a veterinarian to each animal; and
(e) Mortality and cause, if known, including euthanasia.
(2) A copy of an animal's complete vaccination, prophylactic medication and treatment records,
maintained by the licensee as required pursuant to 330 CMR 12.09(1)(d), shall be given to the
purchaser or adopter at the time of sale or give away, along with a notice of the 14-day warranty, and
the purchaser or adopter shall sign a statement acknowledging receipt of these materials, to be kept
as part of the licensee’s record of sale or give away.
330 CMR 12.00: M.G.L. c. 129, §§ 2, 7, 9 and 39A.

Policy on Rescue Animals in Pet Shops

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Division of Animal Health Policy Statement Regarding Rescue/Shelter Animals Being Offered for Sale/Adoption in Retail Outlets

March 13, 2015

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources' Division of Animal Health is charged with enforcing Massachusetts General Law Chapter 129, section 39A, and the related regulations at 330 CMR 12.00, "Licensing and Operation of Pet Shops". These regulations establish the definition of a pet shop, and the requirements for any place or premise where birds, mammals, or reptiles are kept for the purpose of either wholesale or retail sale, import, export, barter, exchange or gift. Further, they require any such place conducting these activities to first obtain a license from the Department. The purpose of these laws and regulations is to prevent the introduction and spread of contagious disease among animals held or disbursed by such facilities.

A number of organizations registered as animal shelters or rescues have sought to reach a wider audience by partnering with licensed pet shops to display their available animals. The Department allows such arrangements, however, it must be with the understanding that the regulations at 330 CMR 12 take precedence over the existing rules for shelters and rescues. As a result, the provisions of 330 CMR 12.07(1) must be strictly adhered to:

All licensees shall isolate all dogs and cats received from sources within or outside of the Commonwealth in a room meeting the requirements of 330 CMR 12.03(2) for a minimum period of 48 hours prior to being offered for sale, barter, gift or other exchange

Any dog or cat brought into a licensed pet shop for the purpose of adoption, a 'meet and greet', or any similar event at which available animals are displayed, must first go through a 48-hour isolation period in the store. This requirement applies to all dogs and cats, regardless of their state of origin, including those from within Massachusetts. At the conclusion of the isolation period, the animals must be examined and deemed healthy by a licensed veterinarian before they may be offered to the public for adoption.

Animal related businesses such as pet supply stores, groomers and veterinary offices, which do not currently hold a pet shop license because they do not otherwise sell animals, will be required to obtain a license to operate a pet shop should they wish to partner with registered shelters or rescues and offer animals from their premises.

Other businesses, which have no ancillary connection to the sale or care of animals (i.e. a bank, or a shoe store), may host animal adoption events for registered shelters or rescues without having to obtain a license to operate a  pet shop, so long as the animals only remain at the premises for the duration of the event, and are not kept overnight.


The above policy ensures that the regulations implemented for the purpose controlling contagious illnesses are taken into account in any setting where other animals may be at risk of exposure to disease.

Joint Policy Statement on Pet Shops

Joint Policy Statement on Pet Shops

December 9, 2004

Issued in Cooperation between the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Agricultural Resources

This joint policy statement is issued in a cooperative effort between the Department of Agricultural Resources (Department) and the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine (Board). It is in response to information received by these agencies in the course of their operations. It has become increasingly apparent that there is a misunderstanding with regard to the standard of care that is required to be given to animals and their consumer owners in the pet shop industry. This joint statement is intended to clarify the standards of professional practice and services that are expected of all professionals and businesses and to which they will be held accountable by their respective licensing authorities.


All veterinary professionals are expected to meet the criteria and ethics mandated by law in the conduct of the veterinary services rendered. This includes maintaining a current license in good standing. See 256 CMR 7.01. While much of the information is codified at Chapter 256 of the Massachusetts Code of Regulations, there may well be additional relevant local, state and federal laws, rules and regulations for which the veterinary professional will also be accountable. See 256 CMR 7.01(2)(c). No veterinary professional will be excused from compliance with all requirements.

Licensing and Operation of Pet Shops 330 CMR 12.00 regulate pet shops.


Veterinary Professionals are not relieved from their professional responsibility to conform to the currently accepted standards of practice in the profession, by virtue of their employment by a Pet Shop or any other employer or corporation. It is the responsibility of the veterinary professional to maintain a clean and sanitary service area, equipment and attire. See 256 CMR 7.01(2)(i). Likewise, it is a violation, for which the veterinary professional will be held accountable, to aid or abet the unlawful, substandard practice of veterinary medicine.

The use of acceptable diagnostic testing and appropriate treatments, surgeries and follow-up care in the pet shop shall be recommended as it would in any other veterinary situation.


Many of the responsibilities of a veterinary professional are invoked when a relationship is established between the veterinarian and his or her patient and client. It is crucial therefore, to understand that the elements of a veterinarian relationship include:

  1. When a veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of (an) animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client, who is the owner of the animal(s) or animal's caretaker has agreed to follow the instructions of the veterinarian;
  2. When there is sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) by the veterinarian to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s); and,
  3. When the practicing veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of therapy.

Such a relationship can only exist when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of examination of the animal(s), and/or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept. The Board will scrutinize the medical records of the animal(s) and the routines of the veterinarian to determine whether such a relationship exists. Failures on the part of its licensees to fulfill their professional responsibilities regarding proper veterinarian-client-patient relationships will be disciplined.

In the pet shop setting, the three-pronged analysis needs to be applied when ownership of the animal is transferred. The relationship with the new owner needs to be established.


256 CMR 7.01(2)(g) requires that the veterinarian have personal knowledge of the animal(s) through an actual examination before he or she can issue a certificate of health. Examinations must be thoughtful and complete and the requisite time should be allotted to ensure that all examinations are conducted in a thorough manner. The results must be documented and maintained in accordance with law and regulation.

At the very least a typical examination involves: 1) An inspection of, or "looking" at, the animal; 2) Palpation, or a "feeling" with the hands, to examine the size, consistency, texture, location, and tenderness of the organs or body parts; 3) Auscultation, "listening" through a stethoscope, to the patient's lungs, heart and intestines, to evaluate the frequency, intensity, duration, number, and quality of sounds, and, 4) Vital signs, such as heartbeat, breathing rate, and temperature, should all be observed, measured and recorded.

A veterinarian is responsible for maintaining a separate record of each examination conducted on each animal examined. See 256 CMR 5.02. The only exception to this rule that the Board will recognize is the medical records that are required to be kept for groups of animals that are treated as a group. The Board will not recognize the examination of animals at pet shops or for the purposes of transportation to pet shops as a group.

Veterinarians must assure that records are properly maintained. Currently, veterinarians are required to keep records for a period of 4 years and Pet shop regulations require that records be kept for a period of 12 months after the date of purchase, sale or give away of the dog, cat or psittacine bird. Please see 330 CMR 12.09(1) (d) and (e).


In the case of dispensing and/or prescribing medications, the Board will always make an initial determination of whether there is a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. This will serve as the basis for the valid dispensing and/or prescription of controlled substances for the benefit of the animal. See 256 CMR 7.01(2)(e).

The Board also expects that all veterinarians will familiarize themselves and remain in compliance with all local, state and federal requirements, relative to the handling, dispensing and labeling of drugs and medications. See 256 CMR 5.02. Drugs and medications dispensed for specific animals shall be for specific veterinary medical problems. For groups of animals, dispensing shall be done judiciously and with an appropriate medical basis.

In the pet shop setting the veterinarian is required to make a diagnosis and prescribe medication for a specific animal. For example, the label information should include the identity of an animal through the use of an appropriate identification system (i.e., microchip number or other corresponding information).

Veterinarians caring for animals in a pet shop shall not declare an animal fit for sale while it is receiving a prescribed course of medication. For example, if the veterinarian has prescribed medication for a period of 7 days, the veterinarian must examine the animal after the completion of the 7-day course of medication and determine if it is healthy and fit for sale.

MGL c. 94C, Sec. 7 requires a Massachusetts Controlled Substances Registration in order to prescribe, dispense, administer or possess a controlled substance. A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Registration is required for controlled substances in Schedules II-V. Massachusetts' law also recognizes as controlled substances those prescription drugs that re not federally scheduled (Schedule VI).

Most practitioners need to register only their primary place of business. However, storing controlled substances at additional locations, such as pet shops, requires additional registrations. Medication must be dispensed for the individual animal.

Access to all controlled substances is limited to licensed, authorized persons. All controlled substances in Schedules II-V must be in a double-locked, permanently affixed cabinet or medication cart with a perpetual inventory. Controlled substances in Schedule VI must be in a locked medication room or closet.

At no time may a pet shop, pet shop employee or other non-veterinarian prescribe or dispense medication to a pet shop customer.



Veterinary professionals must be cognizant of the prohibitions against conflicts of interest when treating pets after their transfer (barter, exchange, adopt out, give away or otherwise transmit ownership of an animal to someone other than the pet shop)

The Board will hold veterinary professionals accountable for conflict of interest breaches. Veterinarians who have pet shops as clients need to identify the client and pet shop animals versus personally owned animals. The client may be the pet shop as a corporation or a d/b/a (individuals doing business as).

The veterinarian must identify his/her client and assure that the veterinary-client-patient relationship is not compromised by a conflict of interest. When a veterinarian has a pet shop as a client, the veterinarian must understand that all the pet shop animals are patients of the veterinarian. Upon the transfer of a pet shop animal the acquirer of the animal becomes the owner and the pet shop no longer is an owner. Upon the transfer of the pet shop animal the veterinarian may not maintain a veterinary-client-patient relationship during any warranty period.

Animals not owned by the pet shop and requiring monitoring, must be housed and treated at a veterinarian facility. If a pet shop is owned by a corporation, the corporation is the owner of the animal. The Veterinarian may direct treatment of animals owned by the pet shop, at the pet shop.

Veterinarians must assure that they do not foster the unlicensed practice of medicine by not identifying the true owner of the animal.


Pet Shops are required to be licensed under the laws of the Commonwealth. In order to maintain a license in good standing, pet shops will be required to work with their veterinary medical staff to ensure compliance with all local, state and federal requirements, as well as conformance with generally accepted, current practice standards within the field of veterinary medicine. The Department will not relieve Pet Shops from these requisite business and medical practices solely for economic reasons. When the health, safety or welfare of animals or the public is found to be compromised, then Pet Shops will be subject to appropriate disciplinary actions, which may include administrative penalties, suspension or revocation of licensure.

Pet shops employing veterinarians to examine animals within the pets shop facility must provide veterinary medical staff with the adequate resources to comply with the law, including, but not limited to clean and sanitary conditions, access to animals for proper and regular examination, sufficient time to conduct proper examinations, allow for proper dispensing of prescription medicines and controlled substances, resources for maintenance of medical records and for the examination, diagnosis and treatment of animals within the custody and control of the pet shop.

It is expected that veterinarians working for pet shops will establish valid client/veterinarian relationships and be active participants in the establishment of medical protocol and bio-security practices to protect both human and animal health. The protection of human and animal health will be achieved through the veterinarian's awareness and involvement with the pet shop.

The Department will inspect and review business practices for complicity with veterinary professionals in violations of controlling laws, rules and regulations. Such complicity that compromises the health, safety and welfare of animal health or the public or renders an animal sick or diseased will lead to appropriate disciplinary action, including administrative penalties, suspension or revocation of licensure. See 330 CMR 12.00.

Updates to Law Regarding Exotic Animals Sold in Pet Shops

To: Licensed Pet Shops From: Dr. Tom French, Assistant Director of Natural Heritage and Endangered Species

Subject: Notice of Changes In the Law Relative to Wildlife that May be Sold By Licensed Pet Shops or Kept as Pets in Massachusetts

Date: January 17, 2014

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Recent changes to state wildlife regulations affect the types of wild animals that may legally be sold in pet stores and kept as pets in Massachusetts.

Many of the changes allow new types of wildlife to be sold in pet stores and kept as pets that were previously illegal. The only new small mammal allowed as a pet is the Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps). Most of the new species are reptiles, including: green tree python (Chondropython spp.), the Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus caninus), all of the jungle runners (Ameiva spp.), true chameleons, frilled lizards (Chlamydosaurus spp.), spiny-tailed lizards (Uromaastyx spp.), and one small species of monitor, the Spiny-tailed or Ridge-tailed Monitor (Varanus acanthurus). The one species of monitor is a small species that can easily be distinguished from juveniles of all the larger species, none of which may be kept as pets.

One turtle, the Red-eared Slider, will no longer be legal to keep in Massachusetts. This turtle has been prohibited because unwanted pets were released so often that they have now become established as a breeding non-native turtle in several areas of the state. Any existing pet slider will be grandfathered and may continue to be kept for the rest of its life, but the owner should keep a date-stamped clear, in-focus photo of its belly (plastron) as documentation. No permit is necessary.

For a complete list of species that may legally be sold in pet stores, see the actual regulation (321 CMR 9.01). A plain language summary of this list can be found in the .pdf file attached below.

Please look over the allowed list (Exemption List) carefully and inform your distributors of what species may and may not be imported and possessed in Massachusetts. These regulations will be strictly enforced. These changes became official on January 3, 2014, so the newly allowed species may be possessed and sold immediately.

The enforcement of the Red-eared Slider possession prohibition will be implemented in two steps. No new Red-eared Sliders may be imported into Massachusetts, but the sale of sliders already in pet stores will be allowed until April 1, 2014.


Additional Resources for