Venomous Reptile Laws

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Keeping venomous reptiles presents a challenge, both practically and legally. Knowing the legalities of keeping such animals will keep you from getting bitten by the long arm of the law.


Liability is the single most important concern when dealing with venomous reptiles. If you cannot afford to buy insurance, you cannot afford to keep venomous reptiles. A general liability policy for claims up to $2 million dollars will normally satisfy most state laws, as well as a surety bond in the amount of $10,000. These will also cover almost any situation that may arise after an accidental bite or escape. Insurance rates vary by state and company, so it is adviseable to contact many agencies for coverage and price.

State and Local Laws

It may not be legal to keep venomous reptiles in your state. Many states, as well as individual counties and cities, ban their ownership. You can get a list of states that require permits to keep venomous reptiles as well as contact information for each state by going to

The Lacey Act

The federal Lacey Act makes it illegal for an individual to import, export or otherwise purchase an animal that has been obtained illegally. This means that you need to find out where the animal came from and if it was legally obtained before you buy it.


A quick note about obtaining a permit to keep a venomous reptile. IN states that require permits for keeping venomous reptiles, you MUST obtain a permit for EACH reptile you purchase, even if they are of the same species. This is one way that the state maintains records for each venomous reptile housed within its borders.


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