Although blue-tongue skinks have been growing in popularity as pets, different states, provinces and countries have different regulations regarding selling, owning and importing them.
Here’s some good news:
In just about every country worldwide, it appears that owning a blue-tongue skink (tiliqua) is completely legal.
Things get a little bit murkier however when it comes to selling them.
Here’s a quick rundown regarding their use in a few of the countries where these pets are becoming more widespread.
Warning, this quick article is going to be a bit link-heavy!
The United States
The United States has fairly strict laws regarding pet ownership. What makes things much more complicated however, are that different states have different regulations.
However, there are some animals that are banned in nearly every state, such as:
…are banned in every state except for North and South Carolina, Nevada, Wisconsin and Alabama
By far the strictest American state when it comes to importing and owning exotic pets is Hawaii. This is due to Hawaii being very small and ecologically quite-isolated. If a non-native species escapes and breeds, there is a significant risk that this could alter the native biological environment.
The good news is that blue-tongue skinks are allowed to be imported and owned in Hawaii.
Hawaii has a quite comprehensive list of banned exotic animals, but fortunately blue-tongue skinks are not on it!
Another state with somewhat strict exotic pet laws is Rhode Island. Once again, blueys are exempt from being banned.
Furthermore, you do not need to have a pet license to sell them.
In certain places (such as certain provinces in Australia) this is necessary.
According to Rhode Island law, skinks (scincidae) are listed as “unregulated wildlife” that may be “imported, sold, bartered, traded, transferred and possessed.”
This is why it’s a good idea to use a reputable breeder to acquire new blue-tongues in the United States. In most places you do not need a license permit to sell them.
Basically, it is completely legal to purchase, own, barter, trade and sell blue-tongue skinks in the United States.
Oh Canada! Our home and…
Here’s the thing about Canadian exotic pet laws.
In general they are quite strict, however regulation is poor and, just like the United States, restrictions vary depending on the province.
As Hawaii is the strictest place regarding exotic pet ownership in the States, the city of Toronto is one of the most heavily restricted places in Canada.
And just like Hawaii, the good news is, blue-tongue skinks are not restricted whatsoever.
In the city of Toronto, all lizards which are longer than 2 meters when fully-grown are prohibited, and if caught you will be subject to a $240 fine.
And as blue-tongue skinks don’t even get close to reaching this length, they are free to own.
Likewise, in other provinces, such as British Columbia, they are also legal to own.
If you are in another province, you may want to check your local laws to be sure, but basically, blue-tongue skinks appear to be legal to own, sell, barter and trade in all of the more heavily populated provinces in Canada.
The United Kingdom
In 1976 the United Kingdom passed what is known as the “Dangerous Wild Animals Act”, which prohibited a ton of different exotic pet species and non-native animals from entering the kingdom.
And, although you need to be at least 16 years old in order to buy a pet in the United Kingdom, the good news is that, just like Canada and the United States, they are totally legal!
There are several species of lizard which are banned however.
There are multiple places to buy them from in the UK, and they are sometimes posted in ads.
Basically, purchasing and owning a blue-tongue skink is totally legal in the UK.
There are 6 different species of blue-tongue skink native to Australia.
Some are endangered and completely banned from capturing, selling and owning whatsoever, such as the Pygmy Blue-Tongue Skink.
Moreover, Australia has quite strict animal export laws. Wild animals are completely illegal to export.
In order to do so, you will need to first acquire the appropriate license from the province that you reside in, and go through the necessary steps.
This is a big reason why people like myself and others advocate that new blue-tongue enthusiasts start off with Northern Blue-Tongues. They are more docile than Indonesians, and if it came from Australia, you will know it’s a legal Northern animal.
Capturing wild animals is illegal throughout Australia, but depending on your province, you may need a pet license to breed them. For instance, in Victoria province.
Basically, owning blue-tongue skinks (especially Northerns) is completely legal in Australia.
But what about some other places?
Are there any places where owning a blue-tongue skink is illegal?
Singapore has some crazy strict laws regarding the sale and possession of pets.
And by pets, I mean there isn’t a list of animals that are prohibited, there is a list of animals that you can own. Meaning, everything else is banned!
The only live animals allowed for purchase and to own in Singapore are:
- small rodents such as mice
- some licensed fish and bird species
- red-eared sliders
- green trea frogs
- Malayan box turtles
Singapore is small, and non-native pets could be introduced into the wild and start messing up the local ecosystem.
Now that you know that is completely legal to purchase and own a blue-tongue skink in the United States, Canada and elsewhere, what about breeding and selling them?
Do You Need a License to Breed and Sell BTS?
For Australia, it will depend on the local province that you reside.
For instance, if you reside in Victoria, no license is needed to breed and sell Northern, Eastern and Blotched species of Blue-Tongue.
No license is needed to breed and sell BTSs in Victoria, Australia for Northerns, Easterns and Blotched skinks.
In the United States, it will again depend on what state you reside in. In many states, you will need to first acquire a special permit or license in order to breed and sell reptiles.
In California, in order to breed and sell any wild reptile, you will first need to get a special wild-animal permit. The cost is about $65.
In Pennsylvania, you will need a propagation license that allows you to breed and sell reptiles.
In Texas it appears that you will also need a permit in order to sell reptiles.
For Florida, a Class 3 vendor license is necessary in order to sell any species of reptile or lizard.
For North Carolina, a vendor license is required is needed to sell blue-tongue skinks (which are not listed as banned animals).
For more information on your particular state, I would recommend checking out this link here for a brief rundown on any laws regarding becoming a reptile vendor, as well as double-checking with your states Game & Wildlife Department.
To briefly recap:
- blue-tongue skinks are legal to import and own in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia
- blue-tongue skinks are illegal to import and own in Singapore
- in order to breed and sell them as vendor, you will need to acquire a license depending on your local province (in Australia or Canada) and the majority of US states