New invasive reptile rules take effect

New Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rules designed to protect the state from high-risk, non-native reptiles take effect Thursday (April 29).

The rules come after a robust public debate resulted in a February announcement of the crackdown on 16 high-risk, invasive reptile species. FWC commissioners said they were left with no choice but to act. 

Pet owners will have 90 days from the effective date to apply for a no-cost permit and mark their pets with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag, also known as a microchip.

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The FWC is helping people who have pet green iguanas and tegus come into compliance, working with multiple partners to hold Tag Your Reptile Day events throughout the state. The events offer pet owners an opportunity to have their pet green iguanas or tegus microchipped for free. Staff will also be on hand to address questions about the permit application process.

“Just as with cats and dogs, microchipping your green iguana or tegu is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep them safe while also protecting Florida’s native wildlife,” said the FWC’s Kristen Sommers. “We are holding Tag Your Reptile Days throughout the state to help pet owners offset costs for microchipping.”

On June 12, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine will take part in the microchip program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Officials have scheduled similar events elsewhere the state.

The changes target reptiles, including pythons, tegus and green iguanas, that the FWC determined pose a threat to Florida’s ecology, economy and human health and safety.

The new rules also include reporting requirements for permittees, biosecurity requirements to limit escape of these high-risk species, and additional language to clarify limited exceptions for possession of green iguanas and tegus for commercial sales or as pets.

The 90-day grace period ends July 28. By that time all pet green iguanas and tegus must be permanently microchipped and owners must have applied for a permit.

All other entities must come into compliance with the new rules by July 28 as well, including entities possessing the regulated species for research, educational exhibition or commercial sale. Additionally, entities with these species will have 180 days to come into compliance with the new outdoor caging requirements. The 180-day grace period for upgrading outdoor caging ends October 26, 2021.

More than 500 non-native species have been reported in Florida. Approximately 80 percent of these species have been introduced via the live animal trade, with more than 130 established in Florida—meaning they are reproducing in the wild. 

For detailed information on how these new rules will impact pet owners, commercial sellers, exhibitors, trappers and other groups, or to learn more about upcoming Tag Your Reptile Day events, visit

Additional information about non-native species in Florida can be found at

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