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Captive Wildlife Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions

Generally, if you find a baby animal it is best to leave it alone. Rarely are animals actually orphaned; the parent may be searching for food or observing its young from a distance. Do not pick up baby animals or remove them from their natural environment. If you come across wildlife you think may be injured or orphaned, you should contact a Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator in your area. If you cannot reach a Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator, you can also contact the appropriate FWC Regional Office for assistance.

Injured, orphaned, or abandoned native animals are NEVER eligible to be kept as personal pets in Florida. Personal pet permits are only issued for animals which are captive bred and are obtained from a legal licensed source. Any injured, orphaned, or abandoned animals must be brought to a Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator for rehabilitation. Caring for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife beyond the time necessary to transport the animal to a Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitator is against the law.

If the animal is a domestic or feral animal, such as a dog, cat or horse, please contact the nearest Humane Society, Animal Services Office or Animal Control Agency.

Links to rules specifying caging, facility, and housing requirements for wildlife are on the Rules and Regulations page.

Hybrids resulting from the cross between wildlife and domestic animals 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.

Wolf-dog hybrids are regulated on a case-by-case basis. Wolf-dogs considered to be indistinguishable from a wolf will be regulated as a Class II canid and will require a Class II license for possession. 

Savannah cats, Bengal cats, and Chausie cats are considered domesticated species and are not regulated by the Captive Wildlife Office.

Please visit the Taxidermy page for more information regarding taxidermy regulations in Florida.

Non-native deer meat (venison) may be sold uncooked to the public. The sale of packaged, uncooked, non-native venison through grocery stores and other outlets is authorized under Rule 68A-12.004, F.A.C. The packages must be properly labeled in the manner required by the rule and appropriate documentation of legal source of acquisition must be maintained by the person possessing the venison for commercial purposes. The packages must be "tamper proof." A zip-lock, plastic bag does not meet the "tamper proof' requirements. However, plastic wrap packaging or other package types are acceptable, provided the container cannot be readily opened and resealed. We suggest placing a label or tape around the package to render it "tamper proof."

The sale of deer meat (venison) from species of deer native to the state is prohibited. For more information regarding the sale of venison, view Rule 68A-12.004, F.A.C. and Rule 68A-12.011, F.A.C.

Documentation of experience is required before being in possession of the following types of wildlife:

Anyone wishing to possess the above species must document 1000 hours of experience working with the species they would like to possess or other species in same biological family and the same or higher Class of wildlife. The experience must span at least one calendar year. The experience documentation must show 1000 hours of practical experience in feeding, handling, care, and husbandry of animals in the same biological family and Class of the animal(s) being requested. Anyone wishing to document their experience hours may use this sample log or any other format (excel sheet, word document, etc.) as long as the description of experience is detailed and the hours are countable, totaling at least 1000 hours.

  • Experience documentation must be submitted per biological family of wildlife requested, except cougars and cheetahs (which are regulated separately on the genus level), crocodilians (which are regulated on the biological order level) and ratites (which are regulated on the biological sub-order level).

Anyone wishing to possess the above species must also obtain two letters of reference regarding their experience as described above. One letter must be from a Florida license holder for the wildlife being applied for (preferably the license holder overseeing the experience) or a representative of a professional organization or governmental institution, including veterinarians. Both letters must be from individuals with firsthand knowledge of the documented experience and must reference such experience in their letter.

Up to 500 hours of experience may be substituted by submitting proof of documented educational experience in zoology or other relevant biological sciences, obtained at the college or technical school level or above.

For experience documentation for Class II wildlife, venomous reptiles, or capuchin, spider, and woolly monkeys, the successful completion of a written examination for the particular species or family may be substituted for 500 hours of the 1000 hour requirement. Applicants must score at least an 80 percent on both the family-specific and general wildlife portions of the examination. Exams are administered at each FWC Regional Office.

Most of the rules and regulations pertaining to captive wildlife can be found in Chapter 68A-6, Florida Administrative Code. You can search for this chapter and others at www.flrules.org.

Please visit our Rules and Regulations page for more links to captive wildlife rules and regulations.

Please see the Reptiles of Concern page for more information.

Licensing Questions

It takes the Captive Wildlife Office approximately 4-6 weeks to process applications. This processing time begins when the agency receives a completed application. This time frame may be extended, depending on whether an application is new or a renewal, whether documents are missing, and whether or not an inspection is required.

Make sure you thoroughly read and complete the entire application before submitting the application. Incomplete applications must be sent back to the applicant for correction, which increases processing time.

Common application mistakes to avoid:

  • Missing signature on application or CIDP
  • Applicant listing themselves as the emergency contact
  • Not listing specific species in inventory. For example, do not put "turtles;" instead list the species, like "yellow-bellied sliders" and "ornate box turtles."
  • Missing copy of ID with Game Farm and Hunting Preserve applications

Yes. The CIDP is required of all new and renewal applicants for applications to possess Class I, Class II, Class III, venomous reptiles and/or reptiles of concern.

  • The information on Part A must be submitted with each initial or renewal application. The “Emergency Contact” requested on Part A must be someone other than the applicant.
  • Part B must be completed and kept at your facility location.

All new applicants applying for the following must be inspected to ensure caging and facility requirements are met before a license will be issued:

Once the Captive Wildlife Office receives an application for a new facility for any of the above, a Captive Wildlife Investigator will reach out to the applicant to set up a date and time for the inspection.

For specific caging and facility requirements, visit the Rules and Regulations page.

Taking personal pets into a public place is considered exhibition of wildlife. Anyone who wishes to possess wildlife as a pet and would like to take their pet in public (any place outside of the home or vet’s office where members of the public could approach the animal) should apply for a license for exhibition in lieu of a personal pet permit/license.

  • For Class III, a Permit to Possess Class III Wildlife for Commercial Use (ESC).
  • For Class II, a Permit to Possess Class I and/or Class II Wildlife for Commercial Use (ESA/B).

Florida law requires that any nonnative species imported into Florida must be authorized by FWC prior to entering the state. The term ‘import’ refers to any nonnative, non-domestic animal that will be physically entering Florida for any purpose. This requirement applies to nonnative animals coming into Florida for circumstances including but not limited to:

  • Commercial use (exhibition or sale)
  • Personal use (personal pet or hobbyist)
  • Animal(s) which will be in Florida only temporarily (bringing a pet on vacation, animals brought into the state for resale out of state, etc.)
  • Animal(s) which will reside in state (moving to Florida with a pet, in-state resident purchasing wildlife from out of state, etc.)

For more information on permitting options for bringing a nonnative, non-domestic animal into Florida, please visit our Import page.

Nuisance trappers who will be in possession of live venomous reptiles at any point are required to obtain a permit to possess venomous reptiles. Nuisance trappers who euthanize venomous reptiles on site are not required to obtain a license to possess venomous reptiles.

Renewal applicants are required to complete the appropriate application and CIDP (when applicable) and to submit the full application to our office in order to renew their license. This is to ensure that all information on file with our office is correct and up to date.

Captive Wildlife Applications Online

To apply for a permit, new and renewal applicants must:

  1. Navigate to Go Outdoors Florida.
  2. Click the Captive Wildlife tile and Visit Site.
  3. Create a new customer account OR log in to your existing account if you have used the Go Outdoors Florida system previously (business customers, please see Business Applicant FAQ section below regarding business profiles). 
  4. Once logged in, click “Apply for a Permit” to access the applications.
  5. Add the appropriate application to your shopping cart by clicking "Apply for Permit". Click on your shopping cart and click Checkout.
  6. After clicking Checkout, you will be prompted to complete the application. Complete all required fields and click Submit.
  7. You will be redirected to your Home page and receive an email confirmation from the system verifying that your application has been received by the FWC Captive Wildlife Office for processing. You will not be charged for the application; you will be prompted to provide payment for your permit upon application approval and permit issuance.

For more detailed assistance with the Go Outdoors Florida system (including account creation, submitting an application, and checking the status of your application), please contact Go Outdoors Florida Customer Help at (855) 779-5907 or customerhelp@gooutdoorsflorida.com.

As of March 28, 2023, all Captive Wildlife permit applications are available online through Go Outdoors Florida.

No. Once you have completed the application and finished the checkout process in Go Outdoors Florida, your application has been received by the FWC Captive Wildlife Office for processing. If any additional information is needed from you, you will be sent an email through the Go Outdoors Florida system outlining what information is missing and how to reopen and edit your application in the system. You may log in to the Go Outdoors Florida system at any time and view the status of your application by clicking “Manage My Applications” Once your application is approved, you will receive an email notification with information regarding how to claim your permit through the system.

At this time, you must complete your application and submit your application in one sitting. The system will timeout after an hour, so be sure to complete and submit each application within one hour to avoid losing any in-progress applications.

There are multiple ways to submit your inventory on each of the applications. The preferred method is to enter your species individually; however, if listing your inventory one by one would take longer than an hour (causing the application to time out), there is the option to copy and paste your inventory from an excel file or word document into the application inventory field.

To check the status of your application:

  1. Navigate to Go Outdoors Florida.
  2. Click the Captive Wildlife tile and Visit Site.
  3. Log in to your account using your information.
  4. Once logged in, click “Manage My Applications” to access the application summary page.
  5. Your submitted application(s) will appear in the "Application History" section (the last section on the page).
  6. The current status of your application is displayed in a colored bubble and you can view your submitted application by clicking "View" or "Manage" then "View" on any of your submitted applications.

When your application is approved, you will get an email notification from Go Outdoors Florida informing you that your application has been approved and your permit is ready to claim. 

To claim your approved permit:

  1. Navigate to Go Outdoors Florida.
  2. Click the Captive Wildlife tile and Visit Site.
  3. Log in to your account using your information.
  4. Once logged in, click “Manage My Applications” to access the application summary page.
  5. Your permit(s) will appear in the "Available Permits" section (the second section on the page).
  6. Click “Claim Permit” on the permit(s) you would like to claim. They will be added to your blue cart icon on the top of the page.
  7. Click on the blue cart icon and click “Checkout”.
  8. Follow the cart checkout process (you will pay for any permit costs during this step) until you reach the Transaction Confirmation page and receive a “Transaction Confirmation” email.
  9. Click “Home” to go back to your homepage.
  10. You will see your claimed permit(s) under the blue “Current Licenses & Permits” bar at the bottom of the page.
  11. To see/print a copy of your permit(s), click “Print Licenses” on your homepage. You can choose to view your permit(s) in the browser or have a copy emailed to you.

 

No. Any permits that have already been issued and mailed/emailed to you will continue to be valid until the expiration date printed at the top of the permit. You do not need to apply to renew your permit until one-two months before your permit expiration date.

No. All applications must be submitted online through Go Outdoors Florida. If you do not have access to a computer, we recommend contacting a friend or family member who has access to a computer to assist with submitting an application online or using free local services (i.e. public library). Applications or payment that are mailed to the Captive Wildlife Office will be voided and returned via mail.

Business Applicant FAQ

For the Contact Information on the Business Profile, enter the name and contact info for the person who should be contacted regarding administrative permitting matters (this person will get the requests for additional information sent to them and any automatic reminders/confirmations sent by the system). If this administrative contact person is different than the representative you would like printed on the permit, there will be the opportunity on the permit application itself to provide the name for the “Responsible Party,” which will be the individual's name that prints on the permit itself.

The "Responsible Party" is the person whose name will be printed on the permit and be will be responsible for all activity authorized under the permit when the permittee is a business. For corporations with Corporate Authorized Individuals (CAIs) who have the required experience for Class I wildlife, Class II wildlife, or other wildlife requiring experience hours, the "Responsible Party" does not need to be the person with all of the required experience for the wildlife at the facility. However, the "Responsible Party" will be the person responsible for all activity authorized under the permit issued to the Business.

The "Responsible Party" questions are asked on each individual form application in Go Outdoors Florida in order to indicate the individual's name to print on the license and still have the ability to list a different person as the contact person on the Business Profile (the person who will receive all the communication regarding the applications). 

Simply put, the contact person on the Business Profile is the administrative contact person for the application(s) and the "Responsible Party" is the Permittee. These can be the same person if desired.

Yes. Your Business Name must be registered through the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations to be permitted as a business. If your business is not currently active through Sunbiz.org, you must register/renew your business before completing your application. If you do not wish to register a business, you must create an “Individual” profile, and your permit will be issued in your individual name.

For the Business Name on the Business Profile, enter the name of the registered business as it appears on Sunbiz.org. There will be opportunity on the permit application itself to provide a DBA or alias for the business name to be printed on the permit, if different than the registered business name.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact the Captive Wildlife Office.

Phone: (850) 488-6253
Email: CWApps@myFWC.com
Mail: Captive Wildlife Office, 620 S Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399