FWC is helping pet owners tag their tegus, green iguanas to prepare for new rules

Media Release
June 4, 2021

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding Tag Your Reptile Day events throughout the state to offer pet owners an opportunity to have their pet green iguanas or tegus microchipped for free to help people come into compliance with new rules.

The FWC is partnering with zoos and veterinarians across the state to host Tag Your Reptile Day events at multiple locations. The regional event will be held on June 12 adjacent to the UF Small Animal Hospital at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, 2089 SW 16th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32608. Turn south on Sheely Drive at the hospital entrance and look for the Zoological Medicine sign. All tagging event locations will have PIT tagging services available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointments are required. PIT tags are available on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. FWC staff will provide information to complete the permit application process. View additional event dates and locations on the FWC website at MyFWC.com/ReptileRule.

Tagging or microchipping your pet is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep them safe and also protect Florida’s native wildlife. Owners may bring up to five pet tegus or green iguanas to any of the single-day events. Pets must be in a secured carrier, wearing a leash or harness to prevent escape. Veterinary staff will microchip these animals while you wait. Thanks to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and other partners hosting events, this service is free to any pet owners who have these species as pets.

The rule changes to Chapter 68-5, F.A.C., took effect April 29 and specifically address 16 high-risk invasive reptiles including pythons, tegus and green iguanas that 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.

People in possession of these animals have 90 days to come into compliance. The 90-day grace period ends July 28, 2021 and 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, eradication and control, or limited 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 Oct. 26, 2021.

More than 500 nonnative species have been reported in Florida. Approximately 80% 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. Since most nonnative fish and wildlife find their way into Florida’s habitats through escape or release from the live animal trade, it is important to create regulations to prevent high-risk nonnative wildlife from becoming introduced or further established in Florida’s environment.

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 MyFWC.com/ReptileRule.

Additional information about nonnative species in Florida can be found at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives.