Reptile police came to my house :(

I’m in Alabama which recently outlawed Tegus, retics and other reptiles. I have a grandfather permit to keep my Tegus and dwarf retic.

Today a forest service ranger dropped in on me to see my tegus. (the permit said we would be given reasonable warning before an inspection, I wasn’t)

I’m not sure what he was looking for, he said something about being sure they couldn’t get out, and that Alabama didn’t want an infestation like Florida.

I guess I passed, he didn’t say anything. I didn’t think tegus could live outside here since we have freezing weather in the winter. Does anyone know what parts of the US, tegus can actually live?


I don’t know anything about the laws or the survival of Tegus in certain climes, but I feel very bad for the stress you felt while getting scrutinized by law enforcement to that fine level of detail. Icky.


I’m not sure about the range of tegu but if tegu are already in Florida there isn’t any stopping them coming into Alabama.


Thanks, to be honest my house was a terrible mess. I didn’t like letting him in for that reason. It really surprised me that he turned up, they must be checking everyone who applied for a permit to keep them.My tegus can’t get out but I do wonder what they were looking for.

Little Buddy is in a large Exoterra and Tonks lives in my reptile room. Ranger wasn’t interested in hearing about my enclosure plans for Little Buddy’s adult inclosure, he wasn’t interested in my retic, even though he was on my permit too.

He asked about a few of my enclosures, especially Thunder Lizard, my black throat monitor. I guess he spied a black tail and thought I had an extra tegu. When I opened the lid and said, black throated monitor, he just said, oh and turned away, no longer interested. It almost seems like a war on tegus for no reason I can understand. Maybe tegus are the new pit bull.


I’ve had weird reactions from people when I mention Tegus lately. Like “oh aren’t those an invasive species?” and I’ve had to say stuff, “we’re in Idaho super-champ, no tropical lizard is going to establish up here,” more than once. I can only imagine the unreasonable panic down there, where they can actually survive.


Tegus and green iguanas, chameleons…live in southern Florida. I can’t find anything about them in northern Florida, let alone Alabama.

I was wondering if they can even live hear, we get hard freezes every winter. This thing against Tegus almost feels like a witch hunt. I’m wondering if I should have shut up and kept my tegus out of sight, instead of getting a permit. The visit just felt invasive.


Well you could target train them so they move towards the target and tap it with their nose. Then you could open their enclosures and hand the target to the ranger. I don’t think he’d come back if he remembers “big scary invasive lizards” coming at him. In all seriousness you should still get permits but seeing how well they can identify lizards they can be whatever you tell them it is.

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That’s because it was invasive. I entertain visitors if my house is a mess, which it often is. If it were me, I’d be talking to a lawyer about a suit against the state, honestly. That was total overreach and obviously fishing. A violation of your constitutional right against unreasonable search. They violated their own regulations by failing to notify you in advance.

I have PTSD, I don’t accept any guest unannounced, not my mother, not my best friend, and definitely not law enforcement. If they didn’t give me reasonable notice I might have a medically negative response to it. I could be screwed up for days by that.

If they run into constitutional challenges from citizens, or worse, the Americans with Disabilities Act, I bet they will stop in a hurry.


That would work and be great (someone should ask USARK about doing that) except she answered the door and allowed them in. That’s essentially agreeing to the search in my eyes unless you went on the track of not wanting to go against law enforcement and not understanding the laws. That would be a messy case if that were pursued. However a reasonable person would agree that knocking on the door is not a “reasonable warning”.


You have a point there, but I’d probably pursue something like an Arbitrary and Capricious Enforcement suit, and I think it would have some weight, unless they are knock and talking literally every tegu owner.

I’m not a lawyer, but I read a couple John Grisham novels. :stuck_out_tongue:


You would need a good lawyer which is expensive. Without the help of USARK that would be difficult. However if USARK was the plaintiff in the case and used these examples as evidence it could be realistic. I’m also not a lawyer but I do have the Ohio Revised Code as my second bookmark. :roll_eyes:


Nice, respect, @erie-herps


LOL, I didn’t think of that. Tonks will run at you and jump if you have her target and she free ranges in my reptile room.

I don’t think the ranger knew anything about identifying the species he was sent to check on. The other inclosure he was worried about holds my carpet python. He asked what it was in an acusing tone, then lost interest when I said, carpet python. I wonder what he thought he found.


Probably thought he found an unlicensed retic


Good point, they actually tried to just drop in, but couldn’t find me. I have 15 acres and the mail box is near the wood shop, not the house.

The ranger called my cell phone, the number I had on my permit, and accused me of not having them at the address I put down. I told him it was 15 acres and he’d driven past the house. He was calling from a fast food place downtown which is five or six miles from where I live. I did give him directions to my house and let him in when he got to the door. I m really leery of upsetting the people who could take my tegus away.

I did say something to him about the permit saying there were to give me reasonable notice and he said they didn’t have my number. Exactly how he called me to ask where I was if he didn’t have my number is in mystery. His voice was pretty aggressive about saying they had to see the tegus now.

The reason my house was a mess and I’m talking an embarrassing mess , is because I’ve been pretty depressed since David, my husband, died unexpectedly in January. Taking care of my critters I’m trying to go to work is about as much as I can doright now. I’m not a neat nick but the house is such a big mess I feel bad about letting anyone see it.

I don’t have the money or the spine right now to go after them with a lawyer but I believe I will send an email to the office complaining about him just turning up. Hopefully it won’t put me on the Blacklist with them.

I’ll contact USARK too, I’m a member and I donate $20 a month to them .Maybe they’ll start focusing on Alabama as well as Florida.


I would definitely take a good long look at what laws they seem to be utilizing to search your home. This is why it isn’t unreasonable for us to reject permits to the right to keep certain species, because now they know you own them and have the notion that it’s okay to just barge in unannounced.

I don’t think I would respond very well to a situation like this, a terse “go to hell” with directions on how to get there is a more likely response to bureaucrats at my door. And that’s coming from a Canadian, where your rights are whatever the flavour of the month is.


And the fact that they have the addresses of where you live and that association with permits. Normally that isn’t unusual but someone posted on here that there was a news story and it showed a map of all of the addresses that had a venomous reptile permit. So everyone that had a venomous reptile permit had their house shown on the news telling people to avoid them. The anti-pet groups are taking the agenda of “scary reptiles” way too far.


The permit gives them the right to inspect the tegus enclosures with reasonable notice. (a day to clean the house would have been nice.)

They wouldn’t have known about my tegus if I hadn’t applied for the permit. I applied for it because I was trying to be a responsible reptile keeper and not give the community a bad name if I somehow got caught with unregistered illegal tegus.


Well maybe if you’re thinking of writing a compliment that would be a good thing to note. If responsible people who go through the permitting system are treated like this, why on earth would anyone give that info to the government


That is really scary about the venomous permits. I wouldn’t want my address as a reptile keeper splashed all over the news. It seems weird that they would be interested in and worried about a couple of tegus when I have three species of large monitor. An Argus monitor, a black throat monitor, and an Asian water monitor.

I’m just lucky the monitors don’t fall into the blacklisted reptiles list and I’m starting to wish that I didn’t apply for the permit for the tegus.

I am pretty isolated. My property and house are off the road, I don’t think they would know anything about me if I hadn’t turned myself in with that permit. :frowning: