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Are Tegus Legal in Florida?

Tegu lizards were once popular exotic pets in Florida, but are now considered an invasive species in parts of the United States.

In the light of the increasing number of invasive Tegus, Florida has made owning any species of Tegu lizard illegal.

This significant change, which took effect in 2022, has impacted many pet owners in the state. Prior to this, it was legal to own a Tegu in Florida.

It is illegal to keep Argentine tegus a pet in Florida.
It is illegal to keep Argentine tegus a pet in Florida.

Legal Status and Regulations

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopted new rules in February 2022.

As of April 29, pet owners cannot purchase Tegu lizards or green iguanas, among other nonnative reptiles newly prohibited.

Those who already own them must get them registered and microchipped. All Tegu and green iguana breeding in Florida must cease by 2024.

Florida breeders have lost the in-state market, plus the ability to import the animals, and those with outdoor facilities have three months to move them inside. This has led to significant changes in the pet trade industry in the state.

Why Tegus Are Banned in Florida

Regulations have been put in place after Tegus became invasive in Florida largely due to the pet trade.

People purchased these lizards as pets, and when they grew too large to manage, they were often released into the wild. This has led to a significant increase in the Tegu population in Florida.

These invasive species are known to eat the eggs of important animals in Florida, like American alligators and rare birds and turtles.

This has had a significant impact on the local ecosystem and has led to efforts to reduce the Tegu population.

In short, owning a Tegu is not legal in Florida. Some people may have been issued a permit to own restricted species prior to the new regulations.

Sadly, no new permits are being issued, which means there is no way to legally acquire a Tegu in Florida today.

See: Where is it Legal to Own a Tegu in the US

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