Amphibians Crocodilians Lizards Snakes Turtles & Tortoises

All amphibians currently on the Massachusetts restriction list are native to the state, and thus were not considered as candidates. Presumably all species are on the list because they are endangered. If surveys prove this to be incorrect, the species in question should be removed from the list, as none of the species currently listed are difficult to maintain in captivity.

All crocodilians should remain on the restricted list in Massachusetts. Most crocodilians are endangered, few captive-breeding programs exist, and most animals available are collected from the wild. Maintenance of these animals requires a large amount of space and specialized equipment to provide a reasonable captive environment. However, due to the endangered status of these animals, captive breeding programs should be encouraged if the individuals desiring to set up such a program prove willing to devote the necessary time and expense to do so.

The following are recommended as genera that should be considered for removal from the restrictions list, as they meet the criteria set up for consideration, i.e. captive breeding, hardiness in captivity, and increased knowledge concerning care.

Agamids:

  • Hydrosaurus: the care is the same as for Physignathus, an exempt animal

  • Pogona/Amphibolorus: widely captive bred, with no wild-caught animals available (of Australian origin - no exports of native Australian animals are allowed)

  • Calotes: being widely kept and bred (see Zimmerman, for example)

Geckos:

  • Gehyra: identical care to Hemidactylus, widespread range (is a colonizer), and has been captive bred over many generations

  • Oedura: only captive-born individuals available (Australian)

  • Tropiocolotes: easily kept and bred

Cordylids:

  • Zonosaurus: identical care and maintenance as Gerrhosaurus, does well in captivity

Iguanas:

  • Uranoscodon: captive breeding ongoing, does well in captivity

  • Ctenonotus: formerly legal when part of Anolis

  • Liolaemus: hardy, widespread genus with identical care and breeding requirements as Sceloporus

Lacertas: The following are all genera for which care is known, specimens do well in captivity, and captive bred specimens are available:

  • Lacerta

  • Podarcis

  • Acanthodactylus

  • Gallotia

  • Psammodromus

  • Takydromus

Skinks: Also see discussion in first section

  • Tropidophorus: hardy, small skink that does well in captivity

Teiids:

  • Callopistes/Tejovaranus: these two genera have been merged by some taxonomists - care is the same as Tupinambis, do well in captivity

  • Kentropyx: same care as Ameiva, has been successfully captive bred.

The following genera should not be removed from the lists, unless situations arise which warrant revision:

Agamids:

  • Moloch, Draco - require specialized diet and/or habitats

Chameleons:

  • Generally do poorly except in the hands of experienced breeders, also would be high-demand pet store items

Helodermas:

  • all species are venomous

Iguanas:

  • Cyclura - endangered and protected

  • Phrynosoma - specialized diet and care make captive maintenance problematic

Varanids:

  • Monitor lizards are high-demand pet store animals, but most grow to a size that makes them hard to maintain successfully in captivity. Some species are smaller, but captive breeding has not progressed to a point where exemption seems warranted.

Skinks:

  • Corucia - this animal has been placed on Appendix II of CITES,as most animals are still imported from a limited area. Captive breeding has begun, however, and in a few years this genus should be reviewed, as it very likely could be removed at that time. (NOTE added in compiling this page: Upon review at the formal public hearing on the DFW proposed changes, it was decided that Corucia warranted removal from the list.)

Elapidae, Hydrophiidae and Viperidae:

The snakes in these families are all venomous and are not suitable for captive maintenance by most individuals. We recommend that they not be kept except by unusually qualified individuals.

Acrochordidae and Aniliidae:

The Trunk snakes and the Pipe snakes are being kept in limited numbers with some success, but they require food items that are not readily available to the general public. For example, many members of the Aniliidae eat only other reptiles or amphibians. Thus, keeping of these animals should still be regulated to insure that only individuals with appropriate resources and knowledge to successfully maintain these snakes have access to them.

Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae and Anomalepidae:

The Worm snakes are rarely seen snakes, but work has been done recently on the captive maintenance of these unusual snakes. (see, for example, Patterson’s Reptiles of South Africa) This work indicates that these snakes are no more difficult to keep than colubrids, provided that their unique lifestyle is taken into account. When the restrictions list was composed 17 years ago, the dietary requirements for these snakes was unknown, however, food items (earthworms, beetles, larvae and grubs) are now available year round. Worm snakes are not impressive or desirable display animals, and so are unlikely to enter the pet trade in great numbers. The only people likely to maintain these animals are those who do so for curiosity or scientific purposes. Thus, we see little reason for these animals to require a permit.

Uropeltidae and Xenopeltidae:

These two families of snakes fall under much the same category as the worm snakes. They are still generally not available, but in the intervening years since the establishment of the restrictions list the requirements for successful maintenance of these snakes has been established. (see for example Obst, pg. 779 and 797). All the arguments applied to the Worm snakes apply here also. We therefore recommend that they not require a permit.

Boidae:

All species of the Boidae except the Emerald Tree Boa, Common Boas over 9 feet long, and Reticulated Pythons over 8 feet long can be kept under the current regulations. [However, see the comments under Miscellaneous.]

Colubridae:

There are almost 300 genera of colubrids currently recognized as valid. The various genera cover an enormous range of variation in habitat requirements, food requirements, and ease of captive maintenance. Only a few percent of the genera are available regularly, but a number of those that are available require permits. We would like to suggest that the following genera be considered for removal from the restricted list:

Bogertophis:

This genus was split off from Elaphe, under which these snakes were legal. They are currently being captive bred.

Drymarchon:

Only one species can be kept without a permit. However, many other species in this genus are being kept and captive bred regularly, for example Drymarchon melanurus. One species is federally protected, however, and should be excluded, of course.

Heterodon:

Although the Eastern form should continue to require a permit, the Western Hognose is being captive bred regularly. In addition, unlike the Eastern Hognose, the Western Hognose readily feeds on mice, making it much easier to keep.

Lamprophis:

This genus is synonomous with Boaedon, a currently legal genus, and so should be legal.

Pituophis:

Currently, only Pituophis melanoleucus ssp. are legal in Massachusetts. However, other species are being captive bred and are readily available and do well in captivity, especially a number of the Mexican forms. The taxonomy of Pituophis is currently under revision, and this should be considered also.

Pseudaspis:

This genera is being captive bred, and the care required is identical to that of Sand Boas (Eryx species), which are legal in the state.

Pseustes:

These snakes require the same care as Elaphe.

Ptyas:

The Asian Rat snake adapt well to captivity, breeds, and requires commonly available food items.

Sonora:

These snakes are being captive bred currently. They are insectivorous, eating crickets, mealworms, earthworms, etc., all of which are available year-round.

Spalerosophis:

The Diadem snakes are being captive-bred widely with no wild-caught specimens available.

Spilotes:

These snakes are easily kept, and are being captive bred.

Zaocys:

The second genus of Asian Rat snake. They also adapt well to captivity.

Miscellaneous:

The committee can find no logical reason why Green snakes (Opheodrys species) should require a permit after they are 10 inches in length, and request that this stipulation be removed.

Obviously captive-born snakes might be considered as not requiring a permit. An easy way to legislate this would be to state that “color morphs” do not require a permit - for example albino variants.

The size requirements for large boids should be reworked. Our understanding is that the size limits on the Common Boa and on the Reticulated Python are present theoretically to safeguard people, not to protect the animals. Unfortunately, the people most likely to be unaware of the potential dangers posed by very large boids are those people who are also least likely to even realize that a permit is necessary to possess those animals. The converse is also true - those who possess permits are usually well-aware of the danger. Thus the size limits seem to be less than ideal. In addition, they are randomly applied. For example, you can keep an Anaconda of any length, but not a Common Boa. One possible way to resolve this problem would be to require a permit for all snakes over 10 feet in length.

In the state list, Epicrates cenchria is listed as Epicrates cenchris, Boa constrictor is listed as Constrictor constrictor, and Corallus caninus is listed as Boa canina.

Gopher tortoises:

No change in the status of these tortoises. All species do poorly outside of their native environment, and the New England climate seems especially unsuited to their maintenance. Only people with specialized knowledge, experience or equipment will be successful in maintaining these tortoises.

Pancake tortoise:

No change in the status of this tortoise. Although a number of captive breeding programs have been very successful with this tortoise, the majority of animals on the market are still imports. Even more worrisome is the fact that this tortoise species is very small and very unusual, making it a prime “pet-store” animal. Thus, removing it from the restricted list would likely result in a large number of Pancake tortoises entering Massachusetts. This species should be re-examined in five years, as it is likely that by that time it will be a good candidate for removal.

Leopard tortoise:

Remove from list. Almost all of the Leopard tortoises available in the market are captive-born individuals. Unlike the Gopher tortoises, they can adapt to the New England environment.

Spurred tortoise:

Remove from list. Almost all of the Spurred tortoises available are captive-born juveniles. Adults still command a large price, and so the most likely animals available to the general public through pet stores would be captive born individuals. Even given this, the price for these animals (and for the Leopard tortoise also) is high enough that “spur of the moment” purchases would be discouraged.

Argentine tortoise:

No change in the status of this tortoise. Although some captive breeding has taken place, animals are not generally available, and may be unsuited for the climate.