Kipp Frohlich, FWC Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, said, "Our native fish and wildlife are facing a serious threat posed by various invasive species found throughout the state. This new rule will help prevent those species on the prohibited list from becoming the next Burmese python."

PANAMA CITY — New rules will help proactively protect Florida from invasive species becoming established in the state. They were approved in February by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and went into effect May 2.

The rules clarify rule language by defining key terms and add some high-risk nonnative animals to Florida’s Prohibited Nonnative Species List.

Kipp Frohlich, FWC Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, said, "Our native fish and wildlife are facing a serious threat posed by various invasive species found throughout the state. This new rule will help prevent those species on the prohibited list from becoming the next Burmese python."

Using recent risk assessments and screenings, the FWC determined these species present a high level of risk to the state and will therefore be added to Florida’s Prohibited Nonnative Species List.

Prohibited animals are listed below.

Mammals: meerkat/mongoose, raccoon dog, dhole, brushtail possum, flying fox.

Birds: red-whiskered bul-bul, dioch, Java sparrow, pink starling.

Reptiles: brown tree snake, yellow anaconda, Beni anaconda, DeSchauensee’s anaconda.

People have until July 31 to comply with the new rules, since prohibited species may nowonly be possessed by permit for research or exhibition purposes. This gives commercial dealers time to sell their inventory, since commercial sales will no longer be allowed in Florida and people may no longer acquire them as pets.

Grandfathering in, surrendering exotic pets

The rules also include grandfathering language for people who possessed these species before the changes. They have until July 31 to submit a permit application to the FWC, which lets them keep the animal for the rest of its life.

To help the FWC control nonnative invasive wildlife, report sightings to the Exotic Species Hotline, 1-888-483-4681; online at IVEGOT1.org; or via the free smartphone app IVEGOT1.

Those who currently possess one of the newly listed prohibited species and do not wish to obtain a grandfathered pet permit are asked to be a responsible pet owner. Do not release exotic animals into the Florida ecosystem. It is illegal and can be harmful to native wildlife. 

To surrender an exotic pet, contact the hotline listed above or bring it to an FWC Pet Amnesty Day event. All exotic pets, including ones held illegally, are accepted without penalty and placed with pre-approved adopters. Learn more about the program at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives under the "Exotic Pet Amnesty Program" tab.