Keeping exotic pets can involve more liability than your surety bond covers. Talk to your insurance agent to make certain your current homeowner's policy is sufficient.
Class I animals: Chimpanzees, gorillas, gibbons, siamang gibbons, drills, mandrills, orangutans, baboons, gelada baboons, snow leopards, leopards, jaguars, tigers, lions, bears, rhinoceroses, elephants, hippopotamuses, cape buffaloes, crocodiles, gavials, black caimans, Komodo dragons, hyenas, aardwolves, cougars, panthers and cheetahs. Class II animals: howler monkeys, uakari New World monkeys, mangabey Old World monkeys, guenon Old World monkeys, patas monkeys, vervet, grivet, green monkeys, sakis, guereza monkeys, idris, macaques, Sulawesi black apes, langurs, douc langurs, snub-nosed langurs, proboscis monkeys, servals, European and Canadian lynx, bobcats, caracals, African golden cats, Temminck's golden cats, fishing cats, ocelots, clouded leopards, wolves, coyotes, jackals, Indian dholes, African hunting dogs, wolverines, honey badgers, American badgers, Old World badgers, binturongs, dwarf crocodiles, alligators, caimans, ostrich, cassowary, giraffe, okapi, tapir, wild cattle, forest, woodland and arid-land antelope and similar species of nonnative hoof stock. Conditional reptiles, which are prohibited as pets, include Indian or Burmese pythons, reticulated pythons, Northern African pythons, Southern African pythons, amethystine pythons, scrub pythons, green anacondas, and Nile monitors. Be prepared for inspections. The FWC will check to make sure your exotic pet's home is clean and safe.
Pets provide companionship and entertainment. To add novelty to the mix, some pet owners go for the more exotic ocelot over the common house cat or upgrade from a dog to a wolf. Keeping exotic pets in Florida requires a license issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to ensure the safety of both your animal and the public. Florida rules also protect indigenous wildlife from nonnative species. Some animals, not surprisingly, are prohibited for personal possession -- such as lions or tigers. Meet the FWC license requirements and enjoy the Florida sunshine with your exotic pet.
Check the FWC's list of Captive Wildlife Categories for your potential exotic pet. Class I covers the most dangerous carnivores and primates, such as lions, tigers, chimpanzees and gorillas. Florida prohibits owning Class I animals as pets. Class II animals include smaller carnivores and primates, such as monkeys, wolves and coyotes. Class III animals are not specified. Consider any animal not on the Class I or II list as Class III. Florida allows personal possession of Class II and III animals for qualified individuals. Certain reptiles, such as certain species of pythons and anacondas, pose a threat to native Florida wildlife, so the FWC prohibits use of these animals as pets.
Complete the Florida Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan. You need to provide information about yourself, emergency contacts and your veterinarian. Describe your plan for the exotic animal in case of a natural disaster -- such as a Florida hurricane -- or a fire or other emergency.
Fill out the FWC Class III Personal Use Application and Questionnaire if your exotic pet falls into Class III -- any animal that does not fall into Class I and II. The questionnaire assesses your knowledge of your exotic pet. Return the completed application and questionnaire to the address specified on the application.
Complete the PPL –- License to Possess Wildlife for Personal Use form if your exotic animal is a pet that falls into Class II. The application requires that you attach proof your exotic pet does not violate current zoning laws. FWC rules require that you have sufficient knowledge and experience with your animal, and you will also need to document this on the application. Current Florida exotic pet license fees and FWC contact information can be found on the application.
Post a Florida surety bond if required to obtain the license for your exotic pet. Contact a certified surety company licensed to do business in Florida. You will need to complete an application with the surety company, possibly post collateral and pay a fee for the bond. Forward the bond along with your other completed license paperwork and the applicable fees to the address specified on your particular application. If approved, your license will then be issued.
- FWC: Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan
- FWC: Class III Personal Use Application and Questionnaire
- FWC: PPL --- License to Possess Wildlife for Personal Use (Class II)
- FWC: Florida Surety Bond for Class I Animals
- United States Department of the Treasury: Listing of Certified Surety Companies
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Monika Weise has been a writer of both fiction and nonfiction since 1988. Her diverse experience includes publishing fiction in "Secrets" magazine, writing plays for the Live Wires acting group and creating manuals for area businesses. Weise is working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.