Rules Pertaining to Wild Animals

Wild Animal Reptile Tagging Information

When will the rules become effective?

The Board of Natural Resources passed the rules during the board meeting held Oct. 25, 2022, at Fort McAllister State Park. The rules take effect Dec. 4, 2022, per the Secretary of State's office.

I have a pet reptile that was listed as wild animal under the recently passed rules. Can I keep it?

Yes. Indian rock pythons, Burmese pythons, Argentine black-and-white tegus, Nile monitors, African helmeted turtles and Chinese softshell turtles possessed on or before the effective date of the rules may be held as a pet without a license or permit provided that the owner tags and registers all individuals with DNR’s Law Enforcement Division within 12 months of Dec. 4, 2022, the effective date of the rules. Additional guidance on the tagging and registration procedure will be posted on this webpage.

I am a reptile breeder. How will the rules affect my business?

Indian rock pythons, Burmese pythons, Argentine black-and-white tegus, Nile monitors, African helmeted turtles and Chinese softshell turtles possessed on or before the effective date of the rules may be sold, transferred and transported within the 12-month period starting Dec. 4, 2022. Anyone purchasing one of these animals as a personal pet should be notified of the tagging and registration requirements that must be met before the end of the 12-month period. Importation into Georgia or breeding of animals is not allowed as of Dec. 4, 2022.

I have wild animal fishes or invertebrates in my aquarium. How long will I have to comply with the rules after they take effect?

DNR’s Law Enforcement Division will implement a 12-month grace period for people or businesses possessing newly listed wild animals to come into compliance. Newly listed invertebrates and fishes held in aquaria or tanks in Georgia before Dec. 4, 2022, may be possessed, sold, transported or transferred for a 12-month period following that date. The grace period does not apply to any species or group of species already listed in O.C.G.A. 27-5-5. Importation into Georgia or breeding of animals is not allowed as of Dec. 4, 2022, the effective date of the rules.

Who is eligible for a wild animal license or permit?

Except where specifically noted in the rules, wild animal licenses are issued to persons engaged in the wholesale or retail wild animal business or who are exhibiting wild animals to the public. Wild animal permits are issued at no cost for scientific, educational or other purposes detailed in O.C.G.A. 27-5-4. Wild animal licenses/permits cannot be issued for the purpose of pet ownership.

I am not eligible to obtain a wild animal license or permit. How can I transfer ownership of my wild animal in a legal and responsible manner?

It is illegal to release any wild animal from captivity or to import, transport, sell, transfer or possess a wild animal in such a manner as to cause its release or escape from captivity (O.C.G.A.27-5-7). In coordination with DNR, wild animals may be transferred to people and businesses that have a wild animal license or permit. Wild animal reptiles and aquarium pets may also be transferred to a new owner during the 12-month grace period as described in the FAQ responses above. Please do not release your wild animal from captivity; it is illegal.

What is a wild animal?

Under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 27-1-2(75), wild animal means any animal that is not wildlife and is not normally a domestic species in the state. This term includes any hybrid or cross between any combination of a wild animal, wildlife and a domestic animal. Offspring from all subsequent generations of such crosses or hybrids are considered wild animals. Georgia law defines wildlife as any vertebrate or invertebrate animal life indigenous to the state.

Where can I find a current list of species designated as wild animals in Georgia?

A version of the approved rules with highlighting to show species added to the list can be found on this webpage. These rules include a statement of purpose and scope (Rule 391-4-8-.01), definitions (391-4-8-.02), a list of species prohibited in the state (391-4-8-.03), a list of inherently dangerous wild animals that require a wild animal license and liability insurance (391-4-8-.04), and a list of species that require a wild animal license but not liability insurance (391-4-8-.05). Note: The PDF does not include the effective date of the rules (Dec. 4, 2022).

How are wild animals treated under state law in Georgia?

The state regulates the importation, transportation, sale, transfer and possession of wild animals that pose a possibility of harmful competition for wildlife, the introduction of a disease or pest harmful to wildlife, problems with enforcing laws and regulations relative to wildlife, and of threatening wildlife or other natural resources or endangering the physical safety of humans (O.C.G.A. 27-5-1). Georgia law establishes a list of wild animals for which a license or permit is required (O.C.G.A. 27-5-5) and gives the Board of Natural Resources the authority to supplement that list (O.C.G.A. 27-5-2). The rules taking effect Dec. 4, 2022, supplement Georgia’s wild animal list with additional species and updated scientific names to reflect current taxonomy.

Why did DNR update the list of wild animals?

The list (O.C.G.A 27-5-5) had not been updated since 1994. Changes in the scientific names of species since that time make it difficult for the public to understand what is regulated under the law. More importantly, the updated list includes additional species that pose a threat to Georgia wildlife or to people.

How did DNR determine what species to add to the wild animal list?

Our biologists reviewed invasive species that have been documented in Georgia and nearby states and scientific publications assessing the ecological risk/inherent danger to humans to determine additional species. We used recently published taxonomic classifications to update scientific names.

Did DNR remove species from the wild animal list?

No. The wild animal law allows the DNR board to add to the list but not remove species designated by the Legislature in O.C.G.A 27-5-5. The rules now include a list of all species originally designated by law plus species recently added by the board.

Can I add a newly listed wild animal to my wild animal license or permit?

Yes, provided that you meet the specifications for humane handling, care, confinement and transportation of wild animals detailed in the law (O.C.G.A. 27-5-6) and remain eligible for a license/permit (O.C.G.A. 27-5-4).

Will this regulation affect my llama farm?

No, the definition of wild animals in Georgia law excludes normally domestic species. Further, the rules provide exemptions for llamas, American bison, water buffalo and alpaca.

Can I keep my European ferret, chinchilla, gerbil or sugar glider?

Yes. The recently passed rules do not change regulations related to ferrets, chinchillas, sugar gliders or gerbils: All can be kept as pets without a wild animal license/permit. However, the rules include specific requirements for keeping European ferrets and sugar gliders.

Where can I read the complete chapter of laws related to wild animals in Georgia?

Please visit the General Assembly Website, click on Legislation and Laws in the upper left corner of the page,  select Georgia Code in the upper right corner of the drop down menu, and then select Title 27, Chapter 5 on the Lexis Nexis webpage.