Captive Wildlife Rule Review
The FWC is responsible for managing Florida's fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. This often involves enacting and enforcing rules and regulations governing human activity in many areas - such as hunting and fishing, operating boats, possessing captive wildlife and dealing with nuisance animals.
The FWC abides by Ch. 120, Florida Statutes, when making rules. In doing so, we notify the public of rulemaking activity through the Florida Administrative Register. Rulemaking often includes direct contact with those who may be affected, extensive discussions with stakeholder groups, and public meetings to gather input from interested parties.
Final decisions on rules usually happen at Commission meetings, held 5 times a year in locations throughout the state. FWC provides public notice of various meetings through our website calendar. To receive email updates, please subscribe to the Captive Wildlife email list.
Captive Wildlife Licenses & Permits
Florida requires permits for wildlife possession, exhibition and sale.
Commercial and private facilities must have permits for many types of native and nonnative animals - including potentially dangerous animals, such as Florida black bears and Florida panthers. These facilities include zoos, circuses, alligator farms, pet shops and individuals who own a class I, II or III animal (see wildlife categories below).
Captive Wildlife Permit Requirements & Categories
Wildlife Requiring a Permit
A. Reptiles of Concern (68A-6.007)
There are currently no reptiles listed as reptiles of concern. Former reptiles of concern are now listed as conditional reptiles. A license is required to capture, keep, possess or exhibit Reptiles of Concern.
B. Venomous Reptiles (68A-6.007)
Native Venomous Reptiles include:
1. Coral snake (Micrurus fulvius)
2. Eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus)
3. Canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus atricaudatus)
4. Pygmy rattlesnake (Sistrurus miliarius)
5. Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
6. Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix)
All other species of venomous reptiles are considered to be nonnative. A license is required to capture, keep, possess or exhibit any poisonous or venomous reptiles.
Per Rule 68A-1.004(87), FAC a venomous reptile is defined as: All members of the class Reptilia including their taxonomic successors, subspecies, or any hybrid thereof, regardless of surgical alteration, determined to have the potential to cause serious human injury due to the toxic effects of its venom or poison. Including all venomous reptiles of the class Reptilia belonging to the families Elapidae, Crotalidae, Viperidae, and Hydrophiidae; all reptiles in the genus Heloderma; and all reptiles in the family Colubridae belonging to the genera: Rhabdophis, Boiga, Dispholidus, Thelatornis, and Atractapsis.
C. Class I Wildlife (68A-6.002, 68A-6.0021 and 68A-6.0022, FAC)
Class I wildlife are those that pose a significant danger to people. Substantial experience and specific cage requirements must be met.
Permits are required for public exhibition or sale of Class I wildlife. Anyone who possesses Class I wildlife must guarantee financial responsibility (see 68A-6.0024, FAC).
Class I wildlife is prohibited from personal possession unless the animal was possessed on or before August 1, 1980; or on or before August 27, 2009 for cougars, panthers or cheetahs.
- Baboons (genus Papaio)
- Bears (family Ursidae)
- Black caimans (Melanosuchus niger)
- Cape buffalos (Syncerus caffer caffer)
- Cheetahs (Acinonyx jabatus)
- Chimpanzees (genus Pan)
- Cougars, panthers (Puma concolor)
- Crocodiles (except dwarf and Congo) (family Crocodylidae)
- Drills and mandrills (genus Mandrillus)
- Elephants (family Elephantidae)
- Gavials (family Gavialidae)
- Gelada baboons (genus Theropithecus)
- Gibbons and Siamangs (family Hylobatidae)
- Gorillas (genus Gorilla)
- Hippopotamuses (family Hippopotamidae)
- Hyenas and Aardwolf (family Hyaenidae)
- Jaguars (Panthera onca)
- Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis)
- Leopards (Panthera pardus)
- Lions (Panthera leo)
- Orangutans (genus Pongo)
- Rhinoceros (family Rhinocerotidae)
- Snow leopards (Panthera uncia)
- Tigers (Panthera tigris)
D. Class II Wildlife (68A-6.002 and 68A-6.0022, FAC)
Class II wildlife can also pose a danger to people. Substantial experience and specific cage requirements must be met.
Permits are required for public exhibition, sale or personal possession of Class II wildlife.
Class II species are:
- African golden cats (Profelis aurata)
- African hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus)
- Alligators, caimans (family Alligatoridae)
- American badgers (Taxides taxus)
- Binturongs (Arctictis binturong)
- Bobcats (Lynx rufus)
- Caracals (Caracal caracal)
- Cassowary (Casuarius spp.)
- Clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa)
- Douc langurs (genus Pygathrix)
- Dwarf crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis)
- European and Canadian lynx (Lynx lynx)
- Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrina)
- Giraffe and Okapi (family Giraffidae)
- Guenons (genus Ceropithecus)
- Guereza monkeys (genus Colobus)
- Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis)
- Howler monkeys (genus Alouatta)
- Idris (genus Indri)
- Indian dholes (Cuon alpinus)
- Langurs (genus Presbytis)
- Macaques and Celebes black apes (genus Macaca)
- Mangabeys (genus Cercocebus)
- Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis)
- Old World badgers (Meles meles)
- Ostrich (Struthio camelus)
- Patas monkeys (genus Erythrocebus)
- Proboscis monkeys (genus Nasalis)
- Sakis (genus Chiropotes and Pithecea)
- Servals (Leptailurus serval)
- Snub-nosed langurs (genus Phinopithecus)
- Tapir (family Tapiridae)
- Temminck's golden cats (Profelis temmincki)
- Uakaris (genus Cacajao)
- Vervet, Grivet or Green monkeys (genus Chlorocebus)
- Wild cattle; forest, woodland and aridland antelope; and similar species of *non-native hoofstock (family Bovidae)
- Wolverines (Gulo gulo)
- Wolves, coyotes, jackals (family Canidae)
*Such non-native hoofstock to include: Forest buffalo, Banteng, Anoa, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Hartebeest, Eland, Kudu, Nilgai, Bongo, lechwe, Roan and Sable antelope, Sitatunga, Bontebok, Blesbok, Topi, Kob, Addax, Oryx, Gemsbok, and other wild species of the family Bovidae which are of similar size, habits and nature.
Note: Hybrids resulting from the cross between wildlife and domestic animal, which are substantially similar in size, characteristics and behavior so as to be indistinguishable from the wild animal shall be regulated as wildlife at the higher and more restricted class of the wild parent are limited to poultry, hamsters, guinea pigs, domestic rats and mice, or chameleons (Anolis)onlydo not need a permit.
E. Class III Wildlife
A permit is not needed to possess certain Class III wildlife as a personal pet. A list of wildlife not requiring a permit for personal pet possession is available above.
Note: A special permit is needed to import leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis), African spurred tortoises (G. sulcata) or Bell's hingeback tortoises (Kinixys belliana) from another state. For information on this special permit, please contact our Non-Native Species Division at (850)488-3831.
F. Game Mammals and Birds
A Game Farm License is required for captive rearing of native or nonnative game birds and game mammals. This license does not authorize the taking of or keeping of any game removed from the wild. A Hunting Preserve License is required for release of captive reared native and non-native game animals for hunting purposes.
Game birds include: wild turkey, quail, rails, snipe, woodcock, ducks, geese, brant, dove, coot, gallinule, and nonnative species generally considered game such as pheasant, chukar partridge, and coturnix quail.
Game mammals include: deer, gray squirrel, rabbits, wild hogs in those areas where specified, and nonnative species generally considered game such as elk, antelope and buffalo.
Note: A license is not required for possession of Bison for commercial farming purposes, possession of 50 or fewer live bob white quail or non-native game birds (except non-native ducks and geese) possessed for personal use, consumption, educational, dog training or other not-for-sale or exhibition purpose, or possession of game bird eggs for consumption.
G. Conditional Nonnative Wildlife
Conditional nonnative species (formerly referred to as restricted species) are considered to be dangerous to the ecology and/or the health and welfare of the people of Florida. These species may not be possessed for personal use. To legally import conditional nonnative species into Florida and possess them for commercial use, research or public exhibition, it is necessary to have a permit.
Possessors of conditional nonnative species for exhibition or public sale should apply for the Class III, exhibition or sale license.
H. Prohibited Nonnative Wildlife
Prohibited non-native species are considered to be dangerous to the ecology and/or the health and welfare of the people of Florida. These species may not be possessed for personal use. To legally import prohibited species into Florida for research or public exhibition, it is necessary to have a permit.
I. Imperiled Species
Florida endangered and threatened species and those designated as species of special concern are afforded special protection. No person shall take, possess, or sell any of the endangered or threatened species or parts thereof or their nests or eggs except as allowed by specific federal or state permits.
To view the list of species designated as endangered, threatened or of special concern visit the Imperiled Species website.
J. Wildlife and Migratory Bird Rehabilitation
Wildlife Not Requiring a Permit
The following species do not require a permit for personal possession as long as no other Rule or Statute applies. Examples include, but are not limited to, rules for Threatened or Endangered Species, hunting regulations, rehabilitation regulations, and sale regulations:
- Button quail
- Doves: ringed, ruddy, and diamond
- Ferrets (domestic; European)
- Gerbils, hedgehogs
- Guinea pigs
- Honey possums, sugar gliders
- Moles; shrews
- Myna birds
- Prairie dogs
- Rats and mice
- Reptiles or amphibians (nonvenomous, unprotected species that are NOT listed as endangered, threatened, species of special concern, conditional reptiles, or otherwise regulated)
- Shell parakeets
- Squirrels; chipmunks
Note: Camels, llamas, wild horses, jungle fowl, common guinea fowl and peafowl are considered domestic/domesticated species and do not require a permit. Ratites and bison possessed for farming purposes do not require a permit.
Dealers whose sales are limited to poultry, hamsters, guinea pigs, domestic rats and mice, or chameleons (Anolis) only do not need a permit.
Commercial ostrich, emu, rhea, and bison farming operations do not need a permit (exemption does not apply to hunting preserves or game farms or animals kept primarily for exhibition in zoos, carnivals circuses or for display to the public).
Additional permit exemptions may apply for some publicly owned or research facilities and traveling exhibits.