N.C. lawmakers put the squeeze on reptile owners

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N.C. lawmakers put the squeeze on reptile owners

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Aug 13, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Raleigh, N.C. -- Snakes that squeeze and venomous reptiles must now be kept under lock and key in North Carolina.

A recently enacted law more strictly regulates ownership of venomous reptiles, constricting snakes and all crocodilians -- except American alligators, which are illegal to own.

Owners of these animals must now keep the reptiles in bite- and escape-proof enclosures with working locks on a permanent basis. Owners of venomous reptiles also must keep a written bite protocol within sight of the enclosure which includes information about suitable anti-venoms.

Excluded from the new law are veterinarians, wildlife damage-control agents and certain education institutions.

The bill is aimed at preventing potentially dangerous situations, like python escapes, says Clair Holley, executive director of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, which supported the bill.

Anyone who doesn’t follow the new enclosure rules can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, plus additional Class A1 misdemeanor if anyone is injured as a result of the reptile being out of its enclosure, she adds. Additionally, in the event that one of the reptiles covered by the new law escapes its closure, authorities must be notified immediately.

“We are just saying if people own these animals, they need to follow these rules,” Holley says.