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New Rules for Invasive Nonnative Reptiles

Important Dates For New Rules

Effective date for new rules: April 29, 2021

90-day grace period to apply for a permit, upgrade indoor caging, and have any qualifying animals PIT tagged ends: July 28, 2021

180-day grace period to upgrade outdoor caging requirements for Prohibited reptile species ends: October 26, 2021

Persons or businesses in possession of the newly listed Prohibited reptiles for commercial sale use have until July 28, 2021 to liquidate their inventory in Florida. These species may not be possessed for commercial sale purposes in Florida after July 28, 2021, except green iguanas or tegus possessed by qualifying entities under a limited exception commercial use permit.

Reticulated Python I.D.

Commissioners approved rule changes in Chapter 68-5, F.A.C., regarding nonnative species on February 25, 2021.  

Once rules take effect on April 29, 2021, pet owners and other entities in possession of these species will have 90 days to come into compliance and 180 days to improve outdoor enclosures to bring them into compliance with the new caging rules.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides email or text message updates on a variety of subjects, including nonnative fish and wildlife, captive wildlife and updates for licenses and permits. Sign up for notifications.

News Release - FWC approves rule changes to help protect Florida from 16 high-risk invasive reptiles

Limited Exception Prohibited Species Pet Permit

An Argentine black and white tegu in Hillsborough County. Photo by Necia Godzisz.

People in possession of green iguanas or tegus as personal pets in Florida prior to April 29, 2021 may apply for a free Prohibited Species for Personal Use permit to maintain that pet for the life of the animal. Only animals possessed prior to April 29, 2021 are eligible to be permitted for personal possession. Owners of any animals kept under this permit are responsible for making sure their pets are marked with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag, otherwise known as a microchip. No new pets of these species may be acquired after the rules take effect. Prohibited pet permits are valid for one year and must be renewed annually.

Application - Prohibited Species for Personal Use

Qualifying researchers and educational exhibitors will need to apply for a Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit (CSP) for exhibition or research to keep any of the newly listed Prohibited species currently in possession.

Have a pet green iguana or tegu?

You can keep your pet. Apply for a free permit today.

Rule Changes to Chapter 68-5, F.A.C.

Definitions

These rule changes include adding a definition for the term “eradication and control” to clarify its meaning in this rule chapter.

Read the rule language for 68-5.002

 

Prohibited Nonnative Species

On April 29, 2021, the following high-risk nonnative reptiles will be Prohibited species in Florida:

Prohibited species may only be possessed by permit for educational exhibition, research or eradication/control activities. See section on Rule 68-5.007 for more information on possession requirements. Some limited exceptions may apply for pet owners and qualifying entities currently in possession of tegus or green iguanas.

Read the rule language for 68-5.006

 

Possession of Prohibited Nonnative Species

Prohibited species of fish and wildlife pose a high risk to Florida’s ecology, economy or human health and safety. Stringent biosecurity measures are required for those entities in possession of Prohibited species to limit escapes. These rule changes include language establishing requirements for caging, biosecurity, PIT tagging, permitting, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The rule now also establishes new language for eradication and control permits.

Prohibited species may only be possessed by permit for educational exhibition, research or eradication/control activities. Prohibited species may no longer be acquired as personal pets. If you had any green iguanas or tegus as pet(s) prior to April 29, 2021, you may apply for a no-cost permit to keep your pet for the life of the animal(s). No new green iguanas or tegus can be acquired with this type of permit after April 29, 2021. Pet owners and other entities in possession of these species will have until July 28, 2021 to come into compliance with the new rules. People in possession of these species will have until October 26, 2021 to come into compliance with the new outdoor caging rules. The rule language linked below does not yet include the new amendment allowing 180 days to upgrade outdoor enclosures. Staff will post the updated language as soon as it becomes available. For entities with a limited exception permit to commercially sell green iguanas and tegus, breeding of these species for commercial sale can continue until June 30, 2024 at which time it will be prohibited.

Some limited exceptions for the possession of green iguanas and tegus for commercial sale and exhibition are included in the changes to Rule 68-5.007. A qualifying entities list indicates which are eligible for a limited exception permit for continued commercial sale or exhibition or green iguanas or tegus. Contact NonnativePermitApps@MyFWC.com if you have questions.

Read the rule language for 68-5.007

 

 

Amnesty for Persons Relinquishing Nonnative Pets

These rule changes include clarifications for the FWC’s Exotic Pet Amnesty Program rules. Specific changes include clarifications in how the program operates, how animals may be surrendered to the program, and updates to rule references and species statutes. This program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative species being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer care for their pets or no longer wish to keep them.

Read the rule language for 68-5.008

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions - Invasive Reptiles Rule Changes

FWC Commissioners approved rule changes in Chapter 68-5, F.A.C., specifically to Rules 68-5.002, 68-5.004, 68-5.005, 68-5.006, 68-5.007, and 68-5.008 regarding nonnative species on February 25, 2021. These rules cover a new definition for “eradication and control”, add 16 species of high-risk snakes and lizards to the Prohibited species list, amend the possession requirements and permit eligibility for Prohibited species, and clarify some the provisions of the exotic pet amnesty rules.

This listing includes any live animals, eggs, hybrids, or taxonomic successors.

Effective date for new rules: April 29, 2021

90-day grace period to apply for a permit, upgrade indoor caging, and have any qualifying animals PIT tagged ends: July 28, 2021

180-day grace period to upgrade outdoor caging requirements for Prohibited reptile species ends: October 26, 2021

Persons or businesses in possession of the newly listed Prohibited reptiles for commercial sale use have until July 28, 2021 to liquidate their inventory in Florida. These species may not be possessed for commercial sale purposes in Florida after July 28, 2021, except green iguanas or tegus possessed by qualifying entities under a limited exception commercial use permit.

If you have one of these animals as a pet, you have until July 28, 2021 to obtain a free Prohibited species for personal use permit and permanently mark the animal with a PIT tag. Applicants will need to submit a completed application form and Critical Incident/Disaster Plan.

If you are a public exhibitor, you must apply for a free Conditional/Prohibited/Nonnative Species Permit (CSP) for public educational exhibition. If you already have a current CSP, then you can submit a request to have it amended. 

If you are a researcher, you must apply for a free CSP for research use. If you already have a current CSP, then you can submit a request to have it amended. 

If you are an entity engaged in eradication or control work, you must apply for a free CSP for eradication and control use. Check back for updates on how to apply for this new permit type.

If you possess green iguanas and/or tegus for commercial sale and qualify for a permit to continue that activity under the limited exception in Rule 68-5.007, you must apply for a free CSP for commercial sale of green iguanas or tegus. Permits are only issued to facilities meeting the requirements of Rule 68-5.007

Completed applications or requests for permit amendments may be submitted to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Impact Management Section via email to  NonnativePermitApps@MyFWC.com or by mail to 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

Additional information on nonnative species permits

Yes. People in possession of these animals can rehome the newly listed Prohibited species before April 29, 2021. If you are selling any nonnative wildlife, you must have an active license authorizing that activity. For tegus or green iguanas, a License to Possess Class III Wildlife for Exhibition or Public Sale (ESC) is required. For the constrictors and Nile monitors, a CSP for commercial import/export business use is required. Once the rule is effective, people in possession of these animals will have until July 28, 2021 to come into compliance with the new rules.

Prohibited species pose a high risk to Florida's ecology, economy or human health and safety. Prohibited species may only be possessed for research, following approval of a research plan, and for public exhibition by qualifying facilities. Prohibited species may also be possessed for eradication and control activities by permitted entities. They may not be acquired or kept as personal pets or for commercial sale, with some limited exceptions.

Pets possessed prior to a species’ listing as Prohibited may be kept with a no-cost permit. There are also limited exceptions for commercial sale of green iguanas and tegus by qualifying permitted entities. Permitted facilities and pet owners must meet strict biosecurity and caging requirements.

Prohibited species may be transferred only to people who hold a permit to possess that species. All Prohibited species must be maintained in accordance with the provisions outlined in Chapter 68-5.

Additional regulations restrict the importation, possession and transfer of certain Prohibited species.

These species pose a threat to Florida’s ecology, economy, and human health and safety. Because they are a high-risk to Florida, enhanced regulations are necessary. Regulation of high-risk nonnative fish and wildlife is used in conjunction with ongoing field work and other management strategies to minimize adverse impacts of invasive species and to prevent additional introduction or spread in the wild.

FWC staff will continue to use risk assessments and risk screenings to determine if additional management efforts are needed for nonnative species of concern. At the February 2021 Commission meeting, Commissioners directed staff to develop a Technical Assistance Group to consider changes in regulatory approach for nonnative fish and wildlife.

Under the new rules, Prohibited reptiles may not be bred except by qualifying Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or Zoological Association of America (ZAA) accredited or certified institutions or researchers. Qualifying commercial sellers of tegus and green iguanas may breed green iguanas or tegus until June 30, 2024. Any eggs produced after June 30, 2024 must be destroyed. Permittees seeking authorization to breed Prohibited reptiles for educational exhibition or research purposes must submit a detailed proposal explaining the conservation value of the planned breeding activity, which must be approved by the FWC before any breeding activity occurs. Prohibited reptiles may not be bred or reared outdoors.

All Prohibited lizards over 5 inches in snout-to-vent length must be PIT tagged. Prohibited lizard PIT tags must be implanted in the body cavity near and in front of a rear leg, or in a rear leg. All Prohibited snakes over ½ inch in diameter must be PIT tagged. Prohibited snake PIT tags must be implanted in the rear third of the snake, forward of the anal plate. Any juvenile tegus or green iguanas that are not PIT tagged may not be housed in outdoor enclosures. Prohibited reptiles may only be housed in outdoor enclosures if they have been marked with a PIT tag. Outdoor enclosures must meet the caging requirements.

We have additional information and FAQ pages set up for the following topics:

Pet Owners

Commercial Sellers

Researchers

Trappers

Exhibitors

Nonnative Reptiles Risk Screening Summaries

FWC staff use a risk screening tool developed by the University of Florida to help with invasive animal management. The tool uses a variety of factors to produce an Invasion Assessment Score and a Feasibility of Control Score. These scores provide a recommendation which informs managers which strategy or combination of strategies they should use for this species, including further analysis/study, interagency collaboration, public outreach, education and removal.