New Limits In Effect On Native Herp Possession In South Carolina

The law is designed to protect the native species from over collection.
Florida Cooter
Florida cooter is a species of large herbivorous freshwater turtle in the genus Pseudemys. Photo by Ryan Somma/Wikipedia

The state of South Carolina has announced new limits on the possession, collection and transfer of the state’s native reptiles and amphibians.
The law, which was made effective October 19, 2020 is designed to protect the native species from over collection, commercial exploitation, and black market trading. The law has placed limits on the following chelonians:

Residents of the state who currently possess turtle and tortoise collections that exceed the new limits must file an “Application for Temporary Exemption for Possession of Native Turtles in Excess of Possession Limits” with the state’s Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) by December 27, 2020. The Who do. To file an exemption are limited to qo native turtles in total, and must not include more than what the limits allow below.

  • Florida cooter (Pseudemys floridana): 5
  • River cooter (Pseudemys concinna): 5
  • Chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia): 5
  • Eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta): 5
  • Spiny softshell turtle (Apalone spinifera): 5
  • Florida softshell turtle (Apalone ferox): 5
  • Eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum): 5
  • Striped mud turtle (Kinosternon baurii): 5
  • Common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus): 5
  • Yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta): 5
  • Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina): 5
  • Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina): 2
  • Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin): 2

Gopher tortoises, bog turtles, spotted turtle and other species listed as endangered or threatened may not be possessed at all. Those who possess a spotted turtle via a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources permit must register those turtles.


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The law also prohibits the sale, purchase, exchange, barter, trade, export, shipping or “re-homing” of any native reptile or amphibian unless allowed by state law. Exemptions include research facilities, zoos, and educational facilities that notify the SCDNR, and facilities that rehabilitate reptiles and amphibians. Certain captive bred snakes are permitted under the new regulations as well as the sale of yellow-bellied and snapping turtles that are bred in certified aquaculture facilities and private ponds. And finally, the release or escape of any non-native reptile or amphibian in the state will result in fines.

Categories: Turtles & Tortoises Information & News