Snakes

Is it illegal to own a tiger snake?

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2013-03-27 15:57:22
2013-03-27 15:57:22

It depends on which species of tiger snake you are talking about, and where you live.

Tiger snakes, genus Notechis, are rear-fanged, non-aggressive, highly venomous snakes of the family Elapidae, found in Australia. Tiger snakes possess a potent neurotoxin (notexin), coagulants, haemolysins and myotoxins, and rank amongst the deadliest snakes in the world. Symptoms of a bite include localized pain in the foot and neck region, tingling, numbness, and sweating, followed by a fairly rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. While antivenom is effective, mortality rate for this species is over 60% if not treated. (Wikipedia, Tiger snake)

There is also an unrelated species found in Africa, Telescopus semiannulatus. They strike readily, but have a relatively mild venom. It can cause local swelling, discolouration, bleeding, lymphangitis, headache, and nausea.

A third tiger snake, the Asian tiger snake, Rhabdophis tigrinus, is venomous, and is the only known snake that is also poisonous. It becomes poisonous by eating toads, and sequestering (storing) the toad toxins in special glands in their necks. This kind of tiger snake has small venom glands and delivers its venom inefficiently, but the venom is potent. This snake is reluctant to bite, even defensively, but the venom has caused fatalities in humans. The venom acts very slowly, preventing blood from clotting and causing internal hemorrhage (bleeding).

In many countries, and in many states of the USA, unless you have followed the prescribed federal and state regulations for the care, handling and containment of a poisonous reptile and have been granted a license. Regardless of whether the snake is being kept by a exotic pet supplier or an individual the party who has ownership can be held criminally and civilly responsible if anyone is harmed. Insurers will cancel a policy of the homeowner when it becomes known a dangerous animal or reptile is on the premises regardless of the legal status.

Legal or not, if you don't have sufficient experience of handling dangerous reptiles the advice is simple: don't do it. If you're adamant about owning a snake, do some research, speak to other snake keepers, and buy a safe specimen such as a corn snake. It'll give you the same pleasure as a tiger and if it bites you (which they rarely do) then you won't die, which is always nice to know.

In many places it is illegal to own FRONT-fanged snakes , like rattlesnakes. REAR-fanged snakes are the only kind of venomous snake Californians are allowed to own. Your state/country may have different statutes.

There are various laws requiring reptile importers, dealers, exhibitors and those who transport them to have permits to import, own, possess and transport snakes. Additionally, cities/counties may require separate permits, often for the benefit and continued health of the animals.

See related links for pictures of Tiger Snakes

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