Story at a glance

  • The rule allows for current tegu and green iguana pet owners to keep their animals with a no-cost permit requiring compliance of new regulations, but they will not be able to replace the animal once it dies.
  • The breeding of animals on the list for commercial sale can continue until June 2024 but will be prohibited after that.
  • Florida spends about $8 million dollars each year in an effort to mitigate the invasive species.

Time may be running out for several well-known invasive species that have established a dangerous foothold in Florida over the years. 

Nonnative reptiles have long been considered risks to Florida’s ecology, economy and resident health and safety, so much so that authorities have encouraged Floridians to humanely kill animals like the green iguana, which has been known to crawl into sewers and emerge on the other end of an unfortunate homeowner’s toilet bowl. The state spends about $8 million dollars each year in an effort to mitigate the invasive species. 


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Late last month state wildlife officials went further. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to ban the importation, breeding and possession of 16 of the most damaging nonnative species, including the green iguana, the Argentine black and white tegus and the Burmese python. 

Other species on the list include Nile monitor lizards, scrub pythons and green anacondas. 

The rule allows for current tegu and green iguana pet owners to keep their animals with a no-cost permit requiring compliance of new regulations, but they will not be able to replace the animal once it dies. The breeding of animals on the list for commercial sale can continue until June 2024 but will be prohibited after that. 

“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,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Robert Spottswood said last month, according to Spectrum News 13

The vote by the commission came after hours of online public hearing, in which reptile breeders, sellers and pet owners voiced opposition to the ban. 

“Banning these animals is punishing those same people that are out there, putting hours of work removing these invasive species,” reptile keeper and educator Daniel Perez told WWSB


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Published on Mar 22, 2021