The best place for native animals is in the bush where they can live in their natural environment. Native mammals have special needs and do not thrive in confined domestic environments.
Native mammals need to be housed and looked after in particular ways to ensure their wellbeing. These needs are not well understood by most people and there are many issues to consider when assessing whether a species could be kept as a pet. For example:
- some native mammals, particularly wallabies and kangaroos, are prone to diseases caused by the stress of contact with humans, domestic pets (cats and dogs) and noise
- many native mammals have large home-ranges and need to kept in large outdoor enclosures
- most native mammals are nocturnal and some, such as possums and gliders, can only be kept in fully enclosed outdoor aviary-type enclosures
- same-sex members of some species, such as quolls and antechinuses, cannot be housed together for most of the year because they will fight, often to the death
- some animals, such as male wallabies and kangaroos, become aggressive when they reach sexual maturity and can be dangerous to humans
- native animals have a short life cycle of birth, breeding and death and can quickly become inbred, so new animals with different genes need to be constantly introduced
- most native mammals do not domesticate well and cannot be ‘enjoyed’ in the same way as dogs or cats.
Protecting our native animals and their environment is our main concern. We limit the number of native mammal species that can be kept as pets in New South Wales to:
- prevent and reduce the incentive for illegal trapping and trade in protected and threatened native mammals
- reduce the likelihood of support for illegal native pet trade and interstate export
- minimise the potential of animals escaping or being intentionally released and becoming a threat to NSW’s native ecosystems.
Sick or injured native mammals
If you find an injured, sick or orphaned native mammal you are not allowed to keep it as a pet.
Specialist wildlife rehabilitation groups throughout New South Wales are licensed to care for these mammals so they can be returned to the wild. You can join one of these groups and undertake the specialist training required to care for sick or injured native animals.