Invasive Reptiles Have To Go

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has adapted new rules to address the importation, breeding and possession of high-risk invasive reptiles. The changes specifically address Burmese pythons, Argentine black and white tegus, green iguanas and 13 other high-risk nonnative snakes and lizards that FWC says pose a threat to Florida’s ecology, economy, and human health and safety.

More than 500 nonnative species have been reported in Florida. Eighty percent of these have been introduced via the live animal trade with at least 139 established in Florida, meaning they are reproducing in the wild.

Commissioners also approved the staff recommendation to create a Technical Assistance Group, which will include representatives from the pet industry, environmental groups and other affected parties, to help develop a comprehensive regulatory approach to managing nonnative species in Florida.

And the Commissioners approved an amendment to extend the timeframe for animal owners to come into compliance with outdoor caging requirements.

The new rules move these 16 high-risk nonnative reptiles to Florida’s Prohibited List and include reporting requirements for permittees, biosecurity requirements to limit escape of these high-risk species, and additional language to clarify limited exceptions for some entities currently in possession of green iguanas and tegus for commercial use or as pets. The rule will allow for current tegu and green iguana pet owners to keep their pets with a no-cost permit.
Once rules take effect, pet owners and other entities in possession of these species will have 90 days to come into compliance except on caging requirements where they will have 180 days to improve outdoor enclosures to bring them into compliance with the new caging rules. The breeding of tegus and iguanas for commercial sale can continue until June 30, 2024 at which time it will be prohibited.

“I’m very sensitive to the people in the pet trade and enthusiasts. But this action is a result of the invasive species that continue to get into the wild,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood. “We have so many of these species now: pythons, tegus, iguanas. These animals are doing lots of damage and we are incumbent to do something.”

See all the banned reptiles on the FWC website HERE.