pet groundhogs in MA?
November 5, 2004 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Is it legal to have a groundhog as a pet in Massachusetts? Anyone out there ever have a pet groundhog? They're so cute.
posted by rxrfrx to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
I can't help you, but I have concluded through extensive research that they are indeed very cute.
posted by Evstar at 3:47 PM on November 5, 2004

Googling it up leads me to believe it is not legal. This page says:

According to MassWildlife Assistant Director Dr. Tom French, "Many people assume that any animal they can purchase in another state or over the Internet is legal to possess in Massachusetts. This is simply not true. Our regulations are restrictive to the point that we publish only what you may possess, rather than what you may not."

Apparently that list is called the exemption list. I was unable to find groundhogs listed, but I may have skimmed it too quickly.
posted by cairnish at 4:05 PM on November 5, 2004

Some info here. But as a general rule, uncommon/exotic pets are not suitable for most people - they take a lot of work, it can be hard to find good medical care, finding good resources to help you look after them properly can be tricky, etc. The cuteness factor should be way down the list of reasons to get any pet, especially when you're talking about wild animals (which have not been bred for tameness for generations) which can live for a decade.

And the end of this page seems to imply that you cannot keep a wild animal as a pet in Massachusetts.
posted by biscotti at 4:15 PM on November 5, 2004

No, it's not legal. Groundhogs a/k/a woodchucks are considered a "nuisance species" in Massachusetts, so people are not permitted to keep them as pets.

However, I knew lots of people who had ferrets as pets in Massachusetts when they were illegal. It's not like the State Police come to your apartment looking for groundhogs, after all.

So, assuming that you could find a tame, captive-bred groundhog in a pet store somewhere else, you would probably be able to sail under the radar of the Massachusetts authorities. (Keeping a wild-born groundhog in your home is cruel and will make the baby Sidhedevil cry.)

Here's a page by a man about his pet groundhog. Does it seem like something you would realistically want to do? Is your apartment/schedule/life convenient for caring for a groundhog?

Rabbits are nice, too--I had a rabbit for eight years and it was really very sweet. Her name was Alice. It's also legal to keep African pygmy hedgehogs in Massachusetts. They're cute.

Maybe you could start with SeaMonkeys and work up to mammals.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:57 PM on November 5, 2004

May I just share that I recently found out that some people call groundhogs 'whistle-pigs'? That's the best name ever.
posted by picea at 5:10 PM on November 5, 2004

Y'all realize that in prairie provinces, children are encouraged to spend their summer days running about shooting as many groundhogs, gophers, and other vermin as possible?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on November 5, 2004

Response by poster: shooting as many groundhogs, gophers, and other vermin as possible

I'm totally up for shooting away the serious infestations of skunks, racoons, possums, and squirrels we have in our dumpsters and recycle bins... but groundhogs are cute! and they don't spray smelly things. also, they're only a "moderate" rabies risk.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:07 PM on November 5, 2004

Ummm, that list says:

(12) List of Mammals.

(a) The following mammals may be kept without a permit:

1. Four-toed (African pygmy) hedgehog (Erinaceus albiventris) (=Atelerix pruneri)

posted by shepd at 8:42 PM on November 5, 2004

Oh, didn't notice Sidhedevil already noticed it. :-D
posted by shepd at 8:43 PM on November 5, 2004

Rats are cute, too. And they're not nearly as big. And they don't sleep all winter long. I don't think I'd want a groundhog as a pet. Those are some serious claws and teeth, and a huge list of special needs, and generally one very large and surly looking critter, though cute.

Rats are easy to care for. Make sure you get at least two, both or all of the same sex (unless you want more rats, real damn soon), 'cause they're social, and don't use the cedar/pine shavings for bedding. (See the rat FAQ below.)

Rats are quite smart, curious, and trainable. They're very human-like and empathic, perhaps even more so than dogs or cats. They are not very gerbil, hamster, or mouse like, where what you've got with them is basically a shivering tuft of skittish fur. Rats have sizable brains.

I have two girl rats: Alice B. Toklas and Getrude Stein. They're trouble makers and snack thieves and cookie hoarders.

There are some really cool rat breeds out there now, too, above and beyond the poor albino lab rat and the common hooded rats. Check out the dumbos and the different points and colors. The dumbos are adorable to the point of brain explodiness. There are also hairless rats, and like hairless cats they're freaky looking.

Rat and Mouse Club of America FAQ for rats.

RMCA main page.

Writing this was totally kickin' it out the jams 3rd grade book report style. Rock.
posted by loquacious at 4:56 AM on November 6, 2004

It's not like the State Police come to your apartment looking for groundhogs, after all.

no, but it'd make a terrifically zany little short story
posted by matteo at 5:01 AM on November 6, 2004

loquacious: my x-husband and I used to have pet rats. I will go on record saying that they are the best pets ever. We had two, named Pinky and the Brain. Except the Brain was really kind of silly and uncoordinated and Pinky was supersmart. Ah, rat irony.

They were easy to take care of and loved hot sauce - they would find hot sauce packets when we let them out of their cage. It was like their personal hot sauce quest. Man, I just realized that I miss them.
posted by bedhead at 5:59 AM on November 6, 2004

Woah. Hot sauce. I'll have to see if they like that. Gertrude likes chocolate, Alice prefers popcorn. (Rats can eat chocolate apparently. It would stand to reason rats could (and will!) eat most anything.) The popcorn is probably less healthy than the chocolate from the salt, but we're talking a popped kernel or three at the most.
posted by loquacious at 7:33 AM on November 6, 2004

I'll third the rat suggestion, rats are wonderful. My sister and I used to breed them, and they're awesome pets (and, positive or negative, you're not in for a ten year commitment with a rat). As long as you have at least two (same sex), and provide them with good housing (some of the cages you can find these days are just amazing), and get ones who've been raised properly (ideally from a breeder who handles them regularly as babies and breeds for temperament) they're like tiny dogs in terms of how they relate to you. And they're very trainable.
posted by biscotti at 8:44 AM on November 6, 2004

Rabbits are the best, though. I bet no rat can be trained to do this.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:37 AM on November 6, 2004

Rats are great. I have two (Poopy and Lizzy) and when I come home from work or wherever, they leap to the side of the cage and hang there, looking at me, and I'm compelled to take them out and play for a little bit, or at least rub their bellies.

Also: Guinea Pigs suck.
posted by angry modem at 8:48 AM on November 7, 2004

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