Q: Is it illegal to own reptiles and amphibians in India? I am mainly asking about these – Geckos( Leopard Geckos), Newts, Salamanders, Bearded dragons, Ball phythons, Milk snakes, Corn Snakes, Chameleons, frogs, toads, anoles, agamas, small monitor species other small harmless lizards even if we could provide them with proper habitat Terrariums and Food? And if in future anyone would still want to keep them, can they get a special license? If yes what is the procedure? I have seen these beautiful, vibrant and harmless creatures when compared to certain dog breeds being kept with ease in countries like US and UK. What’s the situation here?

Asked by Nawaz Mehmood

Answer from Shekar Dattatri, Conservation India:

The simple answer to your query is that most wildlife species in India are covered under one of the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and keeping them in captivity without a permit from the Chief Wildlife Warden can invite a fine or imprisonment or both. Getting a permit is by no means easy and may require a convincing written application and personal meetings with the concerned officials in the Forest Department. A careful scrutiny of the Wildlife Act will give you a clear idea as to which species are protected and which are not. Even if a species is not specifically covered under the Act, and even if it is not native to India, Forest Officials may unwittingly seize them if they are not able to ascertain the correct identity of the animal.

Given all this, it is best not to keep any wild species as pets. We recommend that you watch them without disturbance in their wild habitats.

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