USARK Challenges Florida’s New Law On Reptile Keeping Restrictions

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs law restricting keeping and breeding tegu lizards and green iguanas.
Iguana Iguana Green Iguana
A green iguana suns itself on a rock. Photo by Cayambe/Wikipedia

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) is challenging a new law signed last month by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that places restrictions on the possession, breeding and sale of non-native tegu lizards (Salvator sp) and green iguanas (Iguana iguana)

USARK says in its lawsuit that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has the constitutional authority to regulate species and not the Florida Legislature which passed the law. It also says the executive order violates plaintiff’s due process rights. The law (SB 1414) was passed in an effort to eradicate non-native and invasive species in the state. Florida is ground zero for non-native and invasive species in the United States.

Argentine Black And White Tegu

Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae). Photo by Signey/Wikipedia

USARK and six individual plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction to block the law and the executive order saying the reptile industry will suffer “irreparable harm,” according to a report in the Jacksonville Business Journal.


Green Iguana Care Sheet

Salvator Tegu Care Sheet


“They have invested substantial money and other resources into compliance (with regulations in a state program) and now face the imminent destruction of their businesses and investments,” the attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “Many will be forced to give up their reptile inventories, which in (many) instances contain invaluable animals that have been specially bred for their genetics. Some businesses will be forced to hastily relocate their animals and may in some instances have no other recourse but to euthanize these animals in an attempt to abide with the abrupt change in regulation by the state.”

The law took effect July 1, 2020. It states that these reptiles cannot be bred and kept for commercial sales. They can be used for educational purposes research or eradication or control purposes. Current owners of of tegus and green iguanas could sell or breed the species if they have a current license to possess them, but the sales would be required to be out of state.

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