The Legality of Keeping Snakes as Pets

Pets law Apr 28, 2023

Keeping snakes as pets has gained popularity among reptile enthusiasts, but it’s important to understand the legal aspects of snake ownership. Laws and regulations governing the keeping of snakes can vary by jurisdiction and species.

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We provide an overview of the legality of keeping snakes as pets.

Federal Laws

In the United States, the federal government regulates the importation and interstate transport of certain species of snakes under the Lacey Act. Species listed as injurious under this act are prohibited from being imported or transported across state lines without a permit. Some large constrictor snakes, such as Burmese pythons, fall under these restrictions.

State Laws

State laws play a significant role in regulating snake ownership. Each state has its own regulations regarding which species of snakes are allowed as pets, which require permits, and which are prohibited. Some states, like Florida, have comprehensive regulations due to concerns about invasive species.

Local Ordinances

Local ordinances, often established at the county or city level, may further restrict snake ownership. These ordinances can vary widely, so it’s essential to check with local authorities to determine if there are specific regulations in your area.

Protected Species

Certain snake species, especially those listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), are protected and cannot be kept as pets without special permits. Some popular exotic snake species are subject to these restrictions.

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Venomous Snakes

Many regions have specific regulations for venomous snake ownership. In some areas, keeping venomous snakes may require specialized permits, secure enclosures, and compliance with strict safety protocols.

Zoological and Educational Institutions

Zoos, sanctuaries, and educational institutions may have different regulations and permits for snake ownership compared to private individuals. Special licenses and permits may be required for educational and conservation purposes.

Record-Keeping and Reporting

Some jurisdictions may require snake owners to maintain records of their animals, including information about their source and lineage. Reporting requirements for escapes or releases of potentially dangerous snakes are also common.

Liability Insurance

Depending on your location and the species you keep, liability insurance may be necessary to cover potential damages or injuries caused by your snakes.

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