How to Obtain an Exotic Pet License in Florida

By Monika Weise

Pets provide companionship and entertainment. To add novelty to the mix, some pet owners go for the more exotic ocelot over the common house cat or upgrade from a dog to a wolf. Keeping exotic pets in Florida requires a license issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to ensure the safety of both your animal and the public. Florida rules also protect indigenous wildlife from nonnative species. Some animals, not surprisingly, are prohibited for personal possession -- such as lions or tigers. Meet the FWC license requirements and enjoy the Florida sunshine with your exotic pet.

Florida considers wolves as a Class II animal.

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Check the FWC's list of Captive Wildlife Categories for your potential exotic pet. Class I covers the most dangerous carnivores and primates, such as lions, tigers, chimpanzees and gorillas. Florida prohibits owning Class I animals as pets. Class II animals include smaller carnivores and primates, such as monkeys, wolves and coyotes. Class III animals are not specified. Consider any animal not on the Class I or II list as Class III. Florida allows personal possession of Class II and III animals for qualified individuals. Certain reptiles, such as certain species of pythons and anacondas, pose a threat to native Florida wildlife, so the FWC prohibits use of these animals as pets.

Know what you will do with your exotic pet in case of emergency.

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Complete the Florida Captive Wildlife Critical Incident/Disaster Plan. You need to provide information about yourself, emergency contacts and your veterinarian. Describe your plan for the exotic animal in case of a natural disaster -- such as a Florida hurricane -- or a fire or other emergency.

Fill out the FWC Class III Personal Use Application and Questionnaire if your exotic pet falls into Class III -- any animal that does not fall into Class I and II. The questionnaire assesses your knowledge of your exotic pet. Return the completed application and questionnaire to the address specified on the application.

Complete the PPL --- License to Possess Wildlife for Personal Use form if your exotic animal is a pet that falls into Class II. The application requires that you attach proof your exotic pet does not violate current zoning laws. FWC rules require that you have sufficient knowledge and experience with your animal, and you will also need to document this on the application. Current Florida exotic pet license fees and FWC contact information can be found on the application.

Post a Florida surety bond if required to obtain the license for your exotic pet. Contact a certified surety company licensed to do business in Florida. You will need to complete an application with the surety company, possibly post collateral and pay a fee for the bond. Forward the bond along with your other completed license paperwork and the applicable fees to the address specified on your particular application. If approved, your license will then be issued.