Bill Would Make Buying Pythons, Other Exotic Pets More Difficult in Florida

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Summer Phillips works at a pet store that sells exotic snakes. She likes legislation that would make anyone who keeps giant reptiles as pets first get a permit from the state.

Summer says, "If they’re not responsible and they don’t do research and they don’t know what they’re getting into, they end up with a 15 to 16-foot snake and they don’t know what to do with it at that point, and that’s how they end up getting released out into the wild."

Florida wildlife officials estimate there are up to 5,000 giant pythons, anacondas and monitor lizards in captivity and no one knows how many of these potentially deadly reptiles are on the loose.

A ball python doesn’t get too large, but his bigger cousins are the problem. So many pythons have been released into the Everglades that they’re now an established population.

Rep. Ralph Poppell's bill would make anyone who wants one of six types of giant reptile get a state permit that could cost as much as $150. The goal is to cut down on impulse buys that become wayward reptiles.

Rep. Ralph Poppell, (R) Titusville, FL says, "And if you truly want to have one of these, that you’re permitted and you have the right caging and transporting facilities and the means of which to take care of it."

The reptile industry supports the bill, although maybe not the high-price of the permit, but even snake-sellers agree having irresponsible pet owners turning pythons loose is not in anyone’s best interest.

The reptile permitting bill would toughen the penalties for people who turn loose their large pet reptiles and other non-native wildlife.

The bill may also include tougher regulations for people who own large wildcats and other potentially dangerous mammals.