View Full Version : Tennessee state law issues

07-23-2003, 10:01 PM
State Homepage - http://www.state.tn.us/

State Legislature - http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/

State Statutes/Code - http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/main/government/laws.html

04-02-2005, 02:32 PM
On the TN Dept. of Ag site, I could only find this:

0080-2-1-.13 Native Wildlife and Other Wild Animals

Consult Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Chief of Game Management, P.O. Box 40747, Melrose Station, Nashville, Tennessee 37204, for import requirements.

0080-2-1-.14 Other Animal Species not Named

(Psittacine birds, primates, zoo animals, etc.) No requirements by Tennessee Department of Agriculture.


I have asked TN herp people if they know the state laws, but apparently ignorance is bliss. I am a transplant and I wanted to know that my animals are legal here. From what I have found so far, my animals are OK. I'd be interested to learn more, if anyone here has more updated information.


04-02-2005, 02:49 PM
Kristina...do you have the proper permits for them? I live in Tennessee and I have to have permits to breed and sell my snakes I also have to get a permit to import indigenous species into the state. If you aren't breeding your snakes, then you will just need an importation permit. You can get a one-time permit for them. If you plan on breeding your snakes, then you will also need a propagation permit.

Please check with Walter Cook at TWRA to get the info you need to make your snakes legal.

His e-mail address is: walter.cook@state.tn.us

04-02-2005, 03:20 PM
Thank you, CornCrazy, for your prompt reply!

I do not have snakes, I have African chameleons.
I will email Mr.Cook for permit information. Thank you so much for this resource!


04-02-2005, 03:33 PM
Since you have African Chams, you probably do not need permits. I would check with Mr. Cook, though, just in case.

I'm glad I could be of some help! If you have any other questions, then feel free to e-mail or PM me.

05-23-2010, 12:05 AM
I know this is a bit of an old thread, but I thought I'd post this here anyway, just in case someone else needs it.

As far as I know, the only regulated species here in Tennessee are kingsnakes, cornsnakes, turtles, and venomous reptiles. As has already been stated, the corns and kings are legal if you have the proper paperwork (and futher paperwork and permits if you intend to breed and sell), but turtles and venomous reptiles are not legal unless you are a zoo or other institution approved to keep/display them. I have also been told within the last two days that while false water cobras were once legal in the state, they no longer are. I look for other rear-fanged species (such as hognoses) to be added to the list soon, unfortunately.

05-23-2010, 01:56 AM
I'm sure it's implied but I also wanted to add that I've been told on a couple of occassions by TWRA officers that "turtles" includes native AND non native turtle and land tortoise species. It's kind of controversial though depending on who you ask.

05-25-2010, 07:47 PM
I'm sure it's implied but I also wanted to add that I've been told on a couple of occassions by TWRA officers that "turtles" includes native AND non native turtle and land tortoise species. It's kind of controversial though depending on who you ask.

Yes, that is very true. It does include all species of turtles/tortoises. It can be controversial too, as I've been told that if you claim you are keeping the turtle because you "intend to eat it one day", then it's legal, but if it's a "pet" it's illegal. Makes no sense to me. Haha Some of our laws are a bit extreme regarding certain species, or even confusing.

05-26-2010, 02:26 AM
LOL that's creative. I'll have to tell people that one if they want to get a turtle.

05-26-2010, 12:05 PM


Also, for those who are interested:

Quote reference: http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/animals1/reptile/turtle.html
There are approx 294 species of chelonians alive today. They all share a basic appearance, with a hard shell made up of scutes (hard, bony skin) that can be described as either a hard or soft shell. This shell consists of two parts: the top dorsal carapace and the plastron (the part that protects the belly). Chelonians are a well-known group and can be found in ponds, streams, lakes, and oceans. Several species are endangered. There are three main groups of chelonians: turtles (medium-sized freshwater chelonians and large saltwater chelonians), tortoises (large land dwelling chelonians sometimes found in the desert), and terrapins (small turtles, in North America considered to be one species with hollow plates on the carapace, and in Great Britain considered to be a number of species of pond turtles). There are 11 families:

Chelydridae (snapping turtles, alligator snapping turtles) 3 spp
Emydidae (pond turtles, box turtles, terrapins) 111 spp
Testudinidae (tortoises) 48 spp
Dermatemydidae (river turtles) 1 spp
Kinosternidae (mud turtles, musk turtles) 27 spp
Carettochelyidae (pignose turtles) 1 spp
Trionychidae (softshell turtles) 25 spp
Cheloniidae (sea turtles) 6 spp
Dermochelyidae (leatherback turtles) 1 spp
Pelomedusidae (Afro-American sidenecked turtles) 23 spp
Chelidae (Austro-American sidenecked turtles) 48 spp

Now I'm wondering how they rate whether your claim of food source is true or not. [-( Because for obvious reasons I would never want to eat my pet tortoise.

05-26-2010, 12:20 PM
Also I just found this:


Category: B
Summary of Law: It is unlawful for persons to possess Class I wildlife unless they were in possession of the animal(s) prior to June 25, 1991. Class I wildlife includes the following orders: Primates (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, gibbons, siamangs, mandrills, drills, baboons, Gelada baboons only); Carnivores (all wolves, all bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars); Proboscidia (all elephants); Perissodactyla (all rhinoceroses); Artiodactyla (all hippos and African buffalos); Crocodylia (crocodiles and alligators); Serpentes (all poisonous snakes); and Amphibians (all poisonous species). However, the state does not regulate private possession of species not listed above, such as monkeys and small non domesticated cats (ocelots, servals, etc.).
Citation: TENN. CODE ANN 70-4-401, 70-4-403, and 70-4-404

05-26-2010, 03:21 PM
I keep and breed Dart Frogs. Is there anything special I need to do to ensure my animals are legal since all are captive bred and are no longer poisonous? The way I understand it is that it is unlawful to possess all poisonous species of amphibians which would mean wild caught since they are harmless in captivity. Does this sound correct? I have read these guidelines many times before, but they all seem so vauge that I also figured ignorance was bliss.

05-26-2010, 05:25 PM
I have looked and looked for permits, but the only things I can find are for commercial/institutional/zoo use. I have not found any permits for personal ownership, unfortunately. I'd love to know what it takes to legally own a few tortoises.

Nx--the way I understand it is that poison dart frogs are NOT poisonous in captivity. In the wild they eat special insects that make them poisonous. In captivity they just eat fruit flies, so they are no longer poisonous.

05-26-2010, 09:35 PM
Dagan: Thanks for all of the useful information! It's greatly appreciated by myself, and others I am certain. :thumbsup: I agree, I would not want to eat my pet turtle. The law is so out there on this one. I just tend to stay away from keeping turtles since they are not legal (technically), that way there's no question about it, though it would be nice if we could keep them as pets.

Off topic: I had no idea you were in Maryville! I am as well. It would be great to meet up and discuss reptiles one day! LOL I was at the event that the Blount County Humane Society organized, The CritterFest, just last Sunday displaying my snakes and trying to educate. LOL

05-26-2010, 10:24 PM
Maryville? I'm in Maynardville, just north of Knoxville.

05-27-2010, 11:25 AM
Awesome! You guys live close! We need to get together sometime. I didn't know there was a CritterFest event--darn, I missed it. :(

05-27-2010, 04:49 PM
I know, not many local people around!

05-27-2010, 10:06 PM
Awesome! You guys live close! We need to get together sometime. I didn't know there was a CritterFest event--darn, I missed it. :(

Yep, we were the only reptile booth there. ;) As you probably know, herps aren't exactly common here. LOL But we sure stayed busy! I had my morphs there, and a friend from Knoxville brought some of hers to show. It will be in May again next year, and I do one in Alcoa every October (as long as the weather isn't too chilly for the snakes ;)).

05-27-2010, 10:31 PM
Snakegirl, does the show in Alcoa ever have frogs? I would love to make some local connections.

05-28-2010, 08:03 PM
It's more of a mammal-pet thing, but they like to include reptiles to show/educate. ;) That particular one pushes spay/neuter for mammals, so no selling animals is allowed, but we can talk shop and meet after the event. ;) There haven't been frogs there yet, but if you have some and can bring some to educate with, PM me or email me and I can get you the info on event dates once they've set it this year.

10-25-2012, 09:51 PM
Why do so many sellers refuse to send/mail roaches to TN?
They are not against the law according to (http://state.tn.us/sos/rules/0080/0080.htm) as well as the local department of agriculture. If it is against the law will some one post where they get the information? another thing is that we can buy the roaches from a local pet store as well.

05-01-2013, 06:35 PM
On the subject of roaches....

I've always heard that "Tropical" species of roach are illegal here. I've actually had people refuse to send me Dubia before, and then others that send me a colony with no questions asked.

Does anyone know where we can find specifics on the species of roach that are illegal here? I was wanting some Therea petiveriana (as pets) but couldn't definitively find anything about the species that are considered illegal. T. petiveriana are a pretty low escape-reproduce risk, if you ask me. And they're most certainly not a "tropical" species.

08-28-2015, 09:07 PM
I'm curious about the laws on mammals, specifically Mongoose. I'm moving out to a farm in BFE and need to have a good anti-snake animal for that livestock and family.