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Law Changes Regarding Invasive Nonnative Reptiles

Have a pet green iguana or tegu?

Apply now for a Prohibited Species for Personal Use Permit.

Argentine Black and White Tegu

Invasive nonnative species are one of the most significant threats to global biodiversity, second only to habitat loss. Unfortunately, Florida’s subtropical climate and live animal trade have resulted in many established invasive species in Florida. Regulating their possession and trade is just one aspect of how these species are managed in Florida. 

Changes have been made to Section 379.372, Florida Statutes, which regulates certain high-risk nonnative invasive reptiles in Florida, particularly those listed as Conditional, Prohibited, Venomous and Reptiles of Concern. The new laws go into effect July 1, 2020. Future possession of these species by eligible entities is now limited to the purposes of research, educational exhibition, control or eradication, and for qualifying commercial use and pet owners. 

The FWC established Executive Order 20-19, effective July 1, 2020, to clarify how these changes will be implemented until final rules are approved by the Commission.

Green Iguana sitting in grass

The changes in statute:

  • Add tegus (all species in the genera Salvator and Tupinambis) and green iguanas (Iguana iguana) to the existing list of regulated species.
  • Limit possession, importation and breeding of all nonnative reptile species listed in the statute (including the reptiles currently listed as Conditional) to permitted facilities engaged in educational exhibition, research, eradication or control activities. Breeding and importation of these species will not be authorized for eradication or control activities.
  • Include language to provide limited exceptions for licensed entities that were commercially selling green iguanas or tegus under a valid License to Possess Class III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESC) on January 1, 2020 with a documented inventory of green iguanas or tegus on their 2019 license application.

Per EO 20-19, individuals who had a pet green iguana or tegu prior to July 1, 2020 can apply for a  Prohibited Species for Personal Use Permit to lawfully possess that animal for the remainder of its life.

 

Rule Development on Restricted Reptiles

The FWC will be developing proposed changes to Chapter 68-5, F.A.C. to implement the statutory changes to Section 379.372, Florida Statutes. FWC staff will bring initial rule language proposals to the July FWC Commission meeting. Rulemaking will include reporting requirements for permittees, biosecurity requirements to limit escape of these high-risk species, and any necessary additional language to conform rule with new statute language. The FWC established Executive Order 20-19 effective July 1, 2020, to clarify how these changes will be implemented until final rules are approved by the Commission.

In all rulemaking processes, FWC staff work closely with stakeholders to provide recommendations to the Commission. To stay informed, stakeholders can monitor Commission meeting agendas for items related to this topic and subscribe to receive news related to nonnative fish and wildlife by email.

FWC staff will also host online stakeholder workshops to explain the proposed rule changes.

 

Green iguana

Questions or Comments?

The FWC is interested in your feedback on these rule changes. Submit your comments or questions to FWC staff  using our online commenting form.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The changes to Section 379.372, Florida Statutes include the following:

  • Adds tegus (all species in the genera Salvator and Tupinambis) and green iguanas (Iguana iguana) to the existing list of regulated species.
  • Limits possession, importation and breeding of all nonnative reptile species listed in the statute (including the reptiles currently listed as Conditional) to permitted facilities engaged in educational exhibition, research, eradication or control activities.
  • Includes language that allows for limited exceptions for possession for licensed entities that were commercially selling green iguanas or tegus under a valid License to Possess Class III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESC) on January 1, 2020 with a documented inventory of green iguanas or tegus on their 2019 license application.

The statute changes go into effect on July 1, 2020.

Yes. The FWC established Executive Order 20-19, effective July 1, 2020, to clarify how these changes will be implemented until final rules are approved by the Commission. Staff are developing rules to clarify the changes in Chapter 68-5, F.A.C. and remove any conflicting language. Initial proposals will be brought to the July FWC Commission meeting. Rulemaking will include:          

  • Reporting requirements for permittees
  • Biosecurity requirements to limit escapes of these high-risk species
  • Any necessary additional provisions to align with direction in statute

Interested stakeholders may provide public comment at the Commission Meeting or via our online form. 

In all rulemaking processes, FWC staff work closely with stakeholders to provide recommendations to the Commission. To stay informed, stakeholders can monitor Commission meeting agendas for items related to this topic and can sign up to receive news about nonnative fish and wildlife by email.

People in possession of Conditional reptiles for commercial use can begin to sell them out of state or rehome them through the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program before the statute changes become effective on July 1, 2020. People selling nonnative wildlife, must have a valid ESC license authorizing the sale of Class III reptiles. Any sales to out-of-state entities must be conducted in compliance with any applicable federal or state rules. If the buyer is in another state, the recipient state may have regulations or permitting requirements that apply to these species. Some of the species are also regulated federally through mechanisms like the Lacey Act (Injurious Wildlife) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Any federal requirements still apply to these species.

In order to adopt an animal through the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program, you must apply and be approved as an adopter. The FWC requires adopters to understand how to properly care for the animals they want to adopt. Approved adopters will receive a letter of acceptance from the FWC. The adopter application and related materials are available here. Adopters must also possess any valid permits or licenses required for the pets they adopt.

Yes. The changes in statute disallowing possession and breeding for commercial sales will apply to the species currently listed as Conditional reptiles including:

  • Burmese python (Python molurus)
  • Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)
  • Northern African python (Python sebae)
  • Southern African python (Python natalensis)
  • Amethystine python (Morelia amethistinus)
  • Scrub python (Morelia kinghorni)
  • Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
  • Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus)

No. Red-eared sliders will continue to be regulated as described in section 68-5.004(3), F.A.C. until superseded by subsequent rule.

Nonnative reptiles can be humanely killed on private lands at any time with landowner permission - no permit or hunting license required - and the FWC encourages people to remove and kill nonnative reptiles from private lands whenever possible. It is illegal to release any nonnative species into the wild, pursuant to Section 379.231, F.S. You can also hire a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator to assist you.

The Commission intends to address the changes identified in the new language in Section 379.372, F.S. Rule development will include changes to 68-5.002, 68-5.004, 68-5.005, 68-5.006, 68-5.007, and 68-5.008, F.A.C.

FWC staff will be taking comments from stakeholders throughout the rulemaking process to address these changes. Questions and comments can be submitted by mail to the FWC’s Wildlife Impact Management Section, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600 or using the online commenting form.

FWC staff will also host online stakeholder workshops to explain the proposed rule changes.

In all rulemaking processes, FWC staff work closely with stakeholders to provide recommendations to the Commission. To stay informed, stakeholders can monitor Commission meeting agendas for items related to this topic and subscribe to receive news related to nonnative fish and wildlife by email.