The Future Mr. Pickwick

Since we’ve gotten back from Australia, one of us (the male edition) won’t stop lobbying for a new pet. Seems my Outback-Jack-boyfriend-for-life, XFE is unsatisfied with the pet we currently house, feed and lavish with love.

Toons doesn't care

No, he wants a new pet. A different pet. An entirely more exotic creature.

XFE wants a damn kangaroo. (And yes, before y’all ask, I did see the recent Millionaire Dollar Listing on Bravo featuring the young finance millionaire who couldn’t find a condo to buy in his $4 million price range that would allow him to keep his pet wallaby Inky.  I must say, it was pretty creepy seeing that dude walking around with the wallaby in a pouch.)

Alex from Million Dollar Listing and his wallaby

Being the super-awesome and supportive girlfriend I am, I immediately said, “absolutely not.” This seemed to fall on deaf ears, as the clamoring for a pet kangaroo only increased.

“Fine,” I thought, “I’ll show him. We don’t even have kangaroos in the U.S., so this argument will soon end, with me, as the winner.” (This was all mumbled to myself while fantasizing about the awesome victory lap I would soon be completing, finished with a Poe-patented I-Told-You-So-Dance.)

Except, I was wrong. There are lots of kangaroos for sale out there. Including, of course, a whole bunch of crazies in Texas selling them. I swear, you can literally buy anything in Texas. Looking for miniature zebu cattle to go with your wallaby? No problem, says Dr. Zoo Little of Munch Ranch near Athens. What about a camel or zebra? Sure thing, says Nueces River Ranch

(Although, upon further inspection, it does appear that this is a hunting ranch providing hunting animals, which is very, very troubling. Also: “We DO NOT ship outside of the USA or TX.” I’m confused, which is it? Texas or the U.S.? Nevermind, just….skip these guys. They’re stupid and they might be shooting at kangaroos.)

Who would shoot such a cutie? (sorry I don’t want you to come live with me)

Anyway, once I surmised that you could in fact, despite all logic to the contrary, buy a damn kangaroo in the United States, I figured at least the law would be on my side. There’s no way you can legally own one of these things (outside of Texas, of course). Right? RIGHT??

Only, the law kinda wasn’t helping me out. I don’t know. It’s not really 100% clear. It’s one of those situations where they list a whole bunch of exotic pets that you would need a license or permit for but they don’t mention kangaroos, wallabies or even marsupials. Is this one of those loopholes where you can say, “Well, you never told me specifically that I COULDN’T have one, ERGO, I got one?”

Here’s an ambiguous “summary” of the Virginia laws:


Category: Partial ban on private ownership of exotic animals – allows ownership of some exotic animals but precludes ownership of the animals listed.

Summary of Law: No person may possess nonnative exotic animals that are classed as predatory or undesirable as a “pet.” Nonnative exotic animals include, but are not limited to: bears, wolves, coyotes, weasels, badgers, hyenas, all species of non-domesticated cats, alligators, and crocodiles. Persons may possess these animals if they are a licensed exhibitor, i.e. commercial, educational or scientific uses. However, there are no state requirements for a person possessing non-human primates.

Citation: 4 VAC 15-30-1015-30-40

Ah, and therein lies the crux: “include, but are not limited to.”  Even reading the underlying citations, I couldn’t find anything that actually precluded owning a kangaroo.

Suddenly, XFE was feeling quite encouraged and was putting on his own special pair of I-Told-You-So-Dance shoes.

Not yet entirely ready to throw in the towel, I decided to contact one of these crazy sellers. I was certain that they would see where I was from (civilization) and refuse to sell me a kangaroo. I decided to contact Castleberry Safari because, well, it sounded like the fanciest, and most uptight, and therefore the most strictly official one of the bunch. People named Castleberry must be quite high-faulutin’ and not into risking their good name or business license selling pets to people that should even have them, right?

I explained via email on their website that I was interested in learning more about their fine selection of varmin, but I had some concerns about my own state’s licensing and permitting requirements. Would they, perchance, know if they could even legally sell me the mystical little creature?

Within seconds my inbox was inundated with kangaroo collateral from one Janice Castleberry, including tons of information on how to care for my future pet, a subscription to their newsletter (which appears to come out quite frequently), back issues of the newsletter going back to September, information on how to order a book written by Rocky Castleberry, and a pricing sheet, which informed me that to bring this new critter into my life would run about $1,700 for a boy and $3,500 for a girl. Also, that they ship COD through Delta and the cost is $235. (Can you really ship anything—let alone a kangaroo—COD anymore??)

Finally, Janice emailed me again with the information I had been originally seeking: “Check with your state’s Fish & Wildlife Department to see if they are allowed and if a permit is needed.”


Lord knows the Castleberry’s weren’t going to stop XFE from getting his stupid kangaroo. Which makes sense, honestly, since they are a business at the end of the day. XFE wasn’t even phased by the cost, loudly proclaiming that he’d wanted a boy the whole time (since Petunia is a girl and XFE hasn’t had much luck with her) and wasn’t that just a bargain that they were about half the price!

This was not going well.

Fine. I will indeed check with my state’s Fish and Wildlife Department. I looked all over their website and the only option seemed to be sending them an email in their general box. I guess whoever is in charge of checking that thing thought it was spam because despite leaving all of my contact information, I never heard back from anyone at the Virginia Fish and Wildlife Department.

XFE with wallaby
Yep, that’s XFE with his new pet wallaby. They look so happy, don’t they?

I tried. I really, really tried. So state of Virginia, you really do have me over a barrel here. I’m trying to do the right thing here and NOT have an exotic, unnative pet hopping uninhibited around the tiny patio of my tiny row house in tiny, civilized Old Town Alexandria. We don’t even have grass for crying out loud! We don’t even have a banana pepper plant, thanks to vandals.

Not that I think kangaroos eat banana pepper plants, but they might. Maybe I need to get that Castleberry book after all.

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