• North Carolina Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Keeping Herps in NC

Spotted Turtles – © Joanne St Clair

Things to consider before deciding to own a reptile or amphibian include:

  • Consider the welfare of the animal including cage size/cost, what food is consumed, how much space it needs, lighting requirements, etc.
  • Adult size of the animal.
  • Longevity of the animal. Some turtles can live 100 years or more!
  • Parental approval.

There are Federal, State, County, and municipality laws and regulations in the state of North Carolina that govern the possession, ownership, and transport of reptiles and amphibians. It is your responsibility to know the laws where you reside to be in compliance.

In North Carolina, state law allows individuals to maintain 1-4 reptiles or 1-24 amphibians not on the endangered, threatened or special concern lists without any license or permit.

If you have 5 or more native reptiles from captive sources or 25 or more native amphibians from captive sources then you need to obtain an Amphibian and Reptile Possession Permit. Find out more information and apply for a permit here: Amphibian and Reptile Possession Permit. This permit is free, and should be acquired prior to acquisition of animals from shows or pet shops, etc.

If you wish to collect from the wild 5 or more native reptiles or 25 or more native amphibians, then you need to apply for a Wildlife Collection License. Find out more information and apply for a license here: Scientific Wildlife Collection License . This license costs $5 and should be acquired prior to collection of any animals.

Turtle collection exception: Individuals may not acquire or collect 5 or more turtles or terrapins from the Emydidae or Trionychidae families except those who are exempt. See: http://tinyurl.com/hjb76fo for examples of exemptions.

A listed species has been recognized as needing additional conservation by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission under the State Endangered Species Act or by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The N.C. General Statutes refer to this list as the Protected Animal List. You can find an explanation of the state and federal listing terms and a current list of protected species here: Protected Wildlife Species of NC

If you would like to possess a protected animal, please see NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s endangered species permit requirements here: Endangered Species Permit. An Endangered Species Permit must be acquired prior to any contact with a listed species.

Yes, it is unlawful to import, transport, export, purchase, possess, sell, transfer, or release into public or private waters or lands of North Carolina, any live specimens of Tongueless or African Clawed Frog (Xenopus spp.), Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), any Asian Newts (genera Cynops, Pachytriton, Paramesotriton, Laotriton, Tylototriton), or Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans).  There are ways to get permits for these species so please see the following link for more information.

Restricted Species Permit

The USDA prohibits the sale of turtles under 4 inches (see: FDA Title 21) and NC law allows the sale and purchase of turtles as long as they are over 4 inches in carapace length  (see: Sale of Turtles Restricted).

Possession and ownership of these reptiles is allowed, but please see Article 55 for ownership requirements:

Article 55: Regulation of Certain Reptiles

Please see section below on federal regulations regarding interstate travel and sales of some large constrictors.

The Lacey Act controls the importation and interstate travel of certain herp species. See links below for more information.

“Constrictor Rule” – Three species of anaconda and one python species added to the Lacey Act as injurious species:
Large Constrictor Snakes

201 species of salamanders added to the Lacey Act as injurious species, due to concerns over the salamander fungus Bsal:
Listing Salamanders as Injurious Due to Risk of Salamander Chytrid Fungus

Southeast PARC has developed an informational page on what you can do with a pet herp if you can no longer keep it:

Rehoming Pet Herps