A common question is from people asking if they need a special permit to own a pet snake where they live. My first response is to send them to the breeder or store they plan on purchasing the snake from and asking them. Assuming the store or breeder is located in the same state as the buyer they are going to know the answer to the question and the steps to go through to get the permit in a timely fashion.
If for some reason the store doesn’t know (highly unlikely) or the snake is being purchased out of state from a breeder it is important to know your local, and state regulations concerning snakes. In order to find that information it is best to directly contact your state’s equivalent to the fish and wildlife department. Often they are the ones who are responsible for issuing permits to keep certain snakes as pets. Even if they aren’t they can normally help you get in touch with the right people.
If you need a permit the next step is to get it BEFORE you have the snake. That means learning about the process ahead of time. Some things you should find out are:
- How much will the permit cost?
- Is it a per snake permit or does one cover all?
- How long does the entire process take generally?
- What is the possibility of a permit being denied?
- Is it a lifetime permit or does it need to be renewed?
- What is the appeals process in the case of a denial?
The reason for doing everything before you have the snake is because you don’t want to lose your pet over a technicality because you didn’t follow the rules.
Suppose you go through the entire process and you are denied a permit for whatever reason. What should you do then? The first thing to do is to begin the appeals process as quickly as possible. Since there is too much diversity between the various states it is impossible to give advise on how to go about it. Just be sure you follow “the letter of the law” exactly so you don’t trip yourself up while you are appealing.
One thing you should never do is to just take it upon yourself to have the snake without the required permits. That reflects badly on the entire snake owning community and it will likely get your pet confiscated and possibly destroyed. Also there might actually be a good reason for denying you a permit. The Florida Everglade’s and the snake problem there come to mind as a reason not to permit people to own certain kinds of snakes.
Finally you should be aware of changes to the laws in your area that might affect your snake ownership. Most of the time your existing snakes would be grandfathered in, but new ones would not be.