Captive Wildlife Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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.
Animals from the wild (including 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.
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.
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."
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.
It takes the Captive Wildlife Office approximately 4-6 weeks to process applications. This processing time begins when the agency receives an application and payment has been processed. For applications with a license fee, you should expect to receive an update on your license application within 4-6 weeks after your payment has been processed (i.e. your check has been cashed). 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 sending the application in the mail. 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
- 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:
- Class I
- Class II
- Capuchin, spider, or woolly monkeys
- Venomous reptiles
- Game Farm
- Hunting Preserve
- Wildlife Rehabilitation
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.
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.
Currently there is no way to apply for a Captive Wildlife license or permit online.
All Captive Wildlife license applications for licenses with a fee must be mailed to our office in one envelope enclosing the application, any additional documents, and the payment (check or money order). Applications must be mailed to P.O. Box 6150, Tallahassee, FL 32314-6150.
Applications for Captive Wildlife permits which are free (Class III Personal Pet, Import Permit, Rehabilitation Permit, Falconry Permit) can be emailed to our office. Applications should be emailed to CWApps@myFWC.com.
Nuisance trappers who will be in possession of live venomous reptiles at any point are required to obtain a license 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 mail the full application with payment 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.