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Rhode Island Adopts New Rules To Manage Exotic Animals

Changes to rules on the importation and possession of exotic animals in Rhode Island take effect on April 15, 2010.

By The SmallAnimalChannel News Division
Posted: March 30, 2010, 5:40 p.m. EDT

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has adopted amendments to rules governing the importation and possession of exotic animals. The new rules go into effect April 15, 2010.

The amendments aim to modify the existing rules so as to clarify which animals may be owned with a permit and which animals do not require a permit. Prior to adopting the amendments, the department made some changes/clarifications to sections that pertain to exotic amphibians and mammals.

Specifically, the new rules call for the establishment of three categories of animals: domestic animals, exempt exotic animals and exotic animals. Animals classified as domestic or exempt exotic animals do not require a permit for ownership. Animals classified as exotic do require a permit. Animals that do not appear on either the domestic animals or exempt exotic animals lists require a permit by default.

The department defines “exotic animals” as “any vertebrate or invertebrate other than those defined as domestic animals, native wildlife, or exempt exotic animals under this regulation.” The rules state that any exotic animal imported into or possessed within the state without a permit will be considered contraband and may be confiscated.

As adopted, the rules allow for all aquarium trade fish to be kept without an exotic animal possession permit, except endangered species and the following species:
• Grass carp or white amur;
• Piranha;
• Rudd;
• Walking catfish;
• Snakeheads.

All exotic amphibians kept, housed or maintained outdoors require an exotic animal possession permit. Permits will be granted on a case-by-base basis to applicants who ensure the animal will be kept so that it can’t escape. In the original draft, all amphibians, both indoor and outdoor, would have required a permit. The rule has also been revised to include certain requirements for retail amphibian vendors. All retail amphibian vendors must provide written notification to purchasers of the permit requirement and keep a sales log that includes the name of the purchaser, address of the purchaser, date of purchase, purchaser’s signature and species purchased.

All exotic turtles may be kept without an exotic animal possession permit, except endangered species and the Argentina or Chaco tortoise; gopher tortoise and pancake tortoises. (The department’s Division of Fish and Wildlife regulations prohibit possession of red-eared slider turtles).

All venomous snakes require an exotic animal possession permit, but the following snakes may be kept without a permit:
• All species of boas and pythons, except the emerald tree boa, green tree python, African rock python, reticulated python and all species of anaconda;
• Shield-tailed snakes, sunbeam snakes, and others in the families Uropeltidae and Xenopeltidae;
• Worm snakes, thread snakes, and others in the families Typhlopidae, Leptotyphlopidae, and Anomalepidae;
• Certain snakes of the family Colubridae.

Possession of all chameleons, the Gila monster, beaded lizard and all monitors require an exotic animal possession permit.

Lizards that do not require an exotic animal possession permit include:
• All skinks, except Florida sand skinks, Solomon Island ground skinks or those that are endangered;
• Certain girdle-tailed lizards;
• All teiids, except brown water, earless, rough, snake, spectacled, worm or those that are endangered;
• Certain lacertid lizards;
• Certain lateral-fold lizards;
• All gekkos, except the Big Bend gecko and those that are endangered;
• Certain iguanid lizards;
• Certain agamid lizards;
• All night lizards, except the Utah night lizard and those that are endangered.

Endangered bird species and migratory birds listed in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act require a permit from the USFWS and, if the bird is considered native, a permit from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Fish & Wildlife. Other birds that require a permit include the monk parakeet, rose-colored starling and the red-billed, black-fronted or Sudan diochs. Possession of mute swans or their eggs is prohibited.

The following mammals may be kept without an exotic animal possession permit:
• Four-toed hedgehog;
• Chinchilla derived from captive stock;
• Deer mouse and white-footed mouse;
• Degu;
• Egyptian spiny mouse;
• House mouse;
• Jerboas;
• Norway rat;
• Paca;
• Striped hamster, also known as the Chinese or Siberian dwarf hamster;
Sugar glider
Ferret.

The department has added a note in the regulation that states possession of a ferret does not require an exotic animal possession permit. It does, however, require a permit issued through the Division of Fish & Wildlife.

For the full text of the new rules, visit the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management website

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Rhode Island Adopts New Rules To Manage Exotic Animals

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Reader Comments
Gerbils are probably listed in the domestic category.
Kaitlyn, SP, ME
Posted: 5/9/2011 9:10:51 PM
It was my understanging that ferrets were not supposed to be labled as "exotics" , for as far as we have come in the ferret world it seams that we just taken one step back, though I am glad they are legal even though you need a permit.
Lindalee, tonawanda, NY
Posted: 4/20/2010 12:37:12 PM
No offense, but the comissioners at RI are being really dumb. I know Jerboas are similar to gerbils, but they are not exactly Jerboas, so that means gerbils cannot be kept without a permit which is totally insane. I have sent a letter to RI to override this law, though I do not live in RI, this is outrageous to me.
Rebecca, Naperville, IL
Posted: 3/30/2010 6:50:32 PM
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