Tracking illegal snakes in Florida - FOX 13 News

Tracking illegal snakes in Florida

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Reptiles have been his passion for 30 years, and over the years, Bobby Potts has sold many kinds, even venomous ones.

"There's always been an exotic for that certain type of person who want to own something a little on the outside, a little extreme," said Potts, who owns Herp Hobby Shop in Oldsmar.

It's been years since he's sold a poisonous reptile, but Potts knows there's a proper way to do it.

"For venomous animals, you need a permit," Potts said.

According to FWC officials, permits are needed for reptiles, including the following:

  • Coral snake
  • Eastern diamondback rattlesnake
  • Canebrake rattlesnake
  • Pygmy rattlesnake
  • Cottonmouth
  • Copperhead

"We have dedicated individuals we call inspectors, that do captive wildlife sales inspections, as well as an internet crime division that tracks illegal sales," said Baryl Martin, a spokesperson for FWC.

Recently, FWC charge 20-year-old Nick Mitchell of Sarasota for illegally owning seven venomous reptiles, including cobras and rattlesnakes.

Mitchell faces misdemeanor charges, fines, and jail time.

"Our main concern is making sure those animals don't get released into the wild and keeping the public safe," said Martin.

According to FWC, Mitchell bought his reptiles in South Carolina and brought them to Florida, but there are a variety of ways people get their hands on them illegally.

"I have heard of people buying and selling animals on Craigslist, believe it or not, there's sort of a black market there," said Potts. "It's a shame. For the most part, exotic animal keepers in Florida do a fantastic job. It's when a few bad actors make the headlines, things get skewed."

For more information on what types of animals require a permit, visit the FWC website: http://myfwc.com/license/captive-wildlife/

 

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