Reptilia ByLaw Support

Reptilia is happy to assist municipalities and provinces in designing the best possible bylaws for people, animals and ecosystems. We have over 20 years of expertise working in the zoological community, the pet trade and municipal services to be able to provide the information needed to make an informed choice for the benefit of the community.

Our Recommendations

Reptiles do not fall under the standard definition of a domesticated animal. They do not seem to showcase a personality and affection in the same way our more typical pets do.

They may be considered disposable, and some people may not provide them with adequate care. However, when the public are dedicated to being responsible pet owners and are well educated on animal care, there are many reasons that reptiles can make a good choice of pet for some people – you can read more about that on our Adoption & Rescue page.

There are species that are far more suitable as pets then others, just like a domesticated cat can be a good pet and a tiger probably is not. In the interest of public safety, animal welfare and invasive species risk, it is important for municipalities to set guidelines for their residents to help them make choices that minimize negative impact owning these animals can have if left unchecked.

To anyone that does not keep exotic animals as pets, the temptation might just be to ban these groups of animals outright, but doing so can have a surprising negative effect that is tempered by a fair, well-researched bylaw.

There are many reptiles that make good pets! If all reptiles, the safe and easily cared for ones as well as the potentially dangerous ones, are illegal to own, then the consequence is the same whether someone breaks the law by owning a little harmless gecko or a venomous king cobra. Restrictive laws have the tendency to encourage people to purchase more inappropriate species then they would under a more fair law.

With over 10,000 reptile species alone, a white list of approved exotic species is doomed to prohibit countless harmless and perfectly acceptable species to be pets. If harmless, acceptable species are not included by accident, it again encourages public to potentially make bad choices since the concequence is no different.

Reptilia recognizes the City of Mississauga, Ontario, as having the best bylaw municipal bylaw we’ve seen. The choices were well researched and balance the needs of the pet owning public against additional concerns. We would recommend other municipalities adopting the same law.



All species purely or partially of the order Crocodylia [alligators, crocodiles, gavial, caimans, etc.]



All squamata purely or partially of the following species:

o The genus Eunectes [Anacondas]

o Morelia amethistina [Amethystine and Scrub pythons]

o Python molurus [Indian python, Indian rock python, Burmese python]

o Python sebae [African rock python]

o Python reticulatus [Reticulated python]

o Varanus niloticus [Nile Monitor]

o Varanus salvadorii [Crocodile monitor]

o Varanus salvator [Water monitor]

o Varanus varius [Lace monitor]

o Varanus giganteus [Perentie]

o Varanus komodoensis [Komodo dragon]

o The family Viperidae [True vipers, Fea’s viper, Night adders, Rattlesnakes, etc.]

o The family Elapidae [Cobras, Mambas, Kraits, Coral snakes, etc.]

o The subfamily Hydrophiinae [Sea snakes, Coral reef snakes, etc.]

o The genus Dispholidus [Boomslang snakes]

o The genus Thelotornis [Twig snakes]

o The genus Rhabdophis [Keelbacks]

o The genus Atractaspis [Burrowing vipers, Mole vipers, etc.]

o Philodryas viridissimus [South American green racer]

o The family Helodermatidae [Gila monster, Beaded lizards]



All Araneae purely or partially of the following species:

o The family Ctenidae [Wandering spiders]

o The genus Latrodectus [Black widow spiders]

o The family Sicariidae [Brown recluse spider, Assassin spider, etc.]

o The family Hexathelidae [Australian Funnel web spiders]



All species purely or partially of the family Buthidae [Fat tailed scorpions, Bark scorpions, etc.]

The only addition we would make to the City of Mississauga’s bylaw would be to add a provision against the sale of Red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta). These turtles are proven invasive in Canada and due to the vast quantities sold cheaply and abandoned each year, are a major animal welfare concern.

Have Questions? Want us to advise your Municipality? Contact us!

For more information, expert advice, and animal focused recommendations please contact vaughanfl@reptilia.org