December 29, 2020 | Criminal Defense
Sloths are awfully cute. They are slow-moving mammals native to Central and South American rainforests. The two-toed sloth has an average life span of 20 to 30 years and when bought as an exotic pet, are usually bred in captivity.
They have a complex diet and can be difficult to maintain as they need trees and a large space in which to roam. When kept in a cage or handled often, they can become stressed and ill. Sloths are wild animals. They lack the centuries of domestication that cats and dogs have bred into them.
Sloths have particular temperature and humidity requirements, 85 degrees F, and 80% humidity. This can make its habitat difficult to keep up. In fact, sloths can be expensive. Purchasing a sloth can run an owner thousands of dollars. Monthly costs of upkeep are also high. The costs associated with the heat and humidity are high. Sloths are also expensive to feed. It is impossible to purchase sloth food at your local pet food store.
Nonetheless, because they are cute, people are often drawn to them as pets. Because they are exotic animals, not every state allows people to buy a baby sloth as a pet. Even when allowed, owning an exotic animal like a sloth makes the owner liable for all damages the sloth causes to another person, property, or animal.
Indiana Law Regarding Exotic Pets
Indiana is both lenient and not regarding possession and ownership of exotic pets. Sloths are not considered dangerous animals and are therefore legal in Indiana. A special permit is required to own a sloth in Indiana. Permitting is done at the state level. It may be difficult to get a permit to own a sloth, although Indiana is more lenient regarding the permitting of wild animals than some of the states that surround it. A potential owner must check local ordinances to ensure that owning a sloth is legal within that city.
The permit may be suspended if the animal is a danger to another animal or if the health of the animal is in danger. In that case, the sloth may be taken from the owner. The owner will be held responsible for all costs associated with the seizure or confiscation of the animal.
In Indiana, all wild animals must be kept either in cages or enclosures which are housed in buildings. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources usually inspects these enclosures once a year to ensure the safety of the animal and of the surrounding community.
Purchasing the animal without the proper permit can expose the owner to criminal charges and fines. The crime is a misdemeanor in Indiana. If the owner does not get a permit for the animal, the animal may be removed.
Facing criminal charges is always difficult. Ensuring compliance with state laws concerning exotic pets can be a minefield of regulation and red tape. An experienced attorney can help an owner deal with the legal hurdles of keeping a sloth.
Sloth veterinary care may be difficult to find. Before purchasing a sloth, it is wise to make sure that veterinary care is close at hand. A sloth owner will need to present their permit to a vet who will be caring for their sloth.
What Happens if Your Sloth Injures a Person or Other Animal?
Sloths are wild animals. Like any animal, it may bite or claw a person or other animal in your home. It may escape and harm another. If a pet sloth injures a person or other animal, the sloth’s owner will be held responsible.
Generally, sloths move slowly, but they can and do move quickly when it is necessary. A sloth may bite or claw which could leave infection or scarring, depending on the injury.
A homeowner’s policy insurance policy may or may not cover the damages involved in a pet sloth bite. Some policies have standard exclusions for injuries caused by exotic or wild animal pets. It is wise to check your insurance policy before getting a pet sloth.
When the homeowner’s policy excludes this type of injury, the homeowner must pay out of pocket for damages caused by their pet sloth. The same is true if the sloth escapes and causes property damage.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Owning a Sloth
Sloths are cute. But they are also a long-term expensive commitment. Having a sloth can open a person up to liability if the animal injures another or destroys property. Likewise, if a person fails to conform to the proper permitting process, the animal could be taken and the owner subject to misdemeanor charges. It is best to know what owning a sloth entails before making the 30-year commitment to ownership of one.