Mark McCown: Pet crocodile could cause owner trouble

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Dear Lawyer Mark: I have a baby pet crocodile that I picked up when I went down to Florida.

Although it is small, it’s teeth are so sharp that I wear a special glove when I handle it so that it doesn’t bite me and cut into my hand.

Believe it or not, the croc is fairly friendly and has been a hit with all my friends.

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Someone told me that if it were to get out of its aquarium and escape, I would be in all kinds of trouble if it bit someone.

It’s a great pet, but I don’t want it if it is going to end up costing me a fortune down the road.

Could I have problems if it got out? — CROCODILE OWNER

Dear Croc: There are a couple of areas of law with which you should become familiar if you intend to keep your “pet.”

The first is the area of tort law.

Typically, the law says that a person is strictly liable for any injuries caused by an exotic animal that is inherently dangerous.

In other words, if your crocodile were to bite someone, you would most likely be responsible for any damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, etc. if they sue you.

Having such a pet exposes owners to tremendous amounts of risk in lawsuits, and many homeowner’s insurance policies may not cover awards in these types of cases.

In addition to the area of tort law, you should also be aware of that there is a state law which says that if you have an animal not indigenous to this state and it escapes, you must report the escape to law enforcement officers and to the clerk of council or township clerk within one hour of discovering the escape.

Failure to do so is a first-degree misdemeanor, and subjects you to criminal prosecution.

Finally, you should be aware that many cities and towns have ordinances against types of animals.

You don’t say where you are from in your letter, but I would suggest you ask city or village officials about the legality of keeping your pet.

Thought for the week: The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. –Old Proverb

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.