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Exotic Pet Amnesty Program

Logos of Pet Amnesty and Dont Let it Loose

The Exotic Pet Amnesty Program is an effort to reduce the number of nonnative pets released into the wild. Owners of nonnative pet species face no legal penalties (regardless of the regulatory status of their pet) and do not pay any fees to surrender their pet through the program. Owners may surrender nonnative pets for any reason at any time. The FWC will facilitate the adoption process and make every effort to place the nonnative pet with an approved adopter.

Owners may choose from these surrender options:

Surrendered nonnative pets are rehomed only with approved adopters. The surrendering owner is responsible for continued housing and care until an approved adopter is found. Surrendered pets are not euthanized unless recommended by a veterinarian during an Exotic Pet Amnesty Day event.  

Exotic Pet Amnesty Program Overview

Bearded dragon lizard

The FWC developed the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program in 2006 in response to proposed rule changes for multiple reptile species. To reduce the number of nonnative pets released into the Florida environment, the FWC offers pet owners a legal alternative to release. The Exotic Pet Amnesty Program rehomes surrendered animals to approved adopters. Anyone may complete the application to become an approved adopter.

The search for approved adopters can take time, but participation in our program provides owners with amnesty while we search for appropriate adopters. Owners will retain possession of their animal and are granted temporary amnesty from compliance with certain rules affecting the pet, including permitting and PIT tags.

Florida requires permits for wildlife possession, exhibition and sale. Some nonnative species are considered to be dangerous to the ecology and/or the health and welfare of the people of Florida and are regulated as Conditional or Prohibited. Owners of these nonnative species are required to possess the proper permit and permanently mark their animal(s) with a PIT tag and comply with enhanced biosecurity measures. More information can be found at these pages:

Information on 2021 rule changes for invasive reptiles

Additional information on nonnative species permits

Additional information on Captive Wildlife permits

Due to high volume, red-eared sliders will NOT be accepted at Exotic Pet Amnesty Day events (unless specifically arranged by the FWC). 

We need red-eared slider adopters! If you are interested in becoming a red-eared slider adopter, please call the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681) or email us at [email protected]

Due to COVID-19 Exotic Pet Amnesty Day events are currently postponed. A new date to resume Exotic Pet Amnesty Day public events has yet to be determined. However, if you have a pet you would like to surrender, please call 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681) or email [email protected] and staff can assist you. Check the Exotic Pet Amnesty Events page for updates on future events.

The Exotic Pet Amnesty program is meant for owners to surrender their nonnative exotic pet species they no longer wish or are able to keep, rather than releasing them into the Florida environment.  

Native species kept as pets are outside the scope of this program. Owners of native pet wildlife should visit the Captive Wildlife page to find more information on regulations and options for their native animals. Domestic pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, and chickens are not accepted. Owners of domestic animals should inquire with local pet shelters or rescues for options on rehoming their pets.

Report sick or injured wildlife by contacting a local wildlife rehabilitator or calling the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline

Though the Exotic Pet Amnesty Program does not accept native wildlife for surrender, we will refer owners to their local Captive Wildlife Investigator for native species and the appropriate wildlife rehabilitator for injured or orphaned native wildlife. Email the program at [email protected] for more information.