Reptile keeper licences

Some native snakes, lizards, geckos, dragons and turtles can be kept as pets as long as you have a licence.

Native reptiles are protected by law so if you want to keep a native reptile as a pet you’ll need a licence from the Office of Environment and Heritage (National Parks and Wildlife Service).

It is illegal to keep exotic (non-native) reptiles.

Protecting native reptiles

It’s against the law (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974) to take reptiles from the wild or release unwanted ones.

Taking animals from the wild, or even your backyard, can cause local extinctions. Dumped animals can spread disease and suffer from starvation or predation.

Pet native reptiles must be bought from licensed dealers or breeders. 

Licensing helps us:

  • protect our unique reptile species and their ecosystems
  • keep animals and their owners safe
  • abide by NSW laws.

There are different types of licence depending on how many animals you have and how difficult they are to keep.

You’ll need to demonstrate your experience and training if you’re planning to keep venomous reptiles.

Get the right licence

Native reptiles that can be kept as pets are each classed as R1, R2, R3, R4 and/or R5. The right licence for you will depend on how many animals you want to keep and what type of animal you want.

Type of licence needed

Companion Animal Keeper Licence

With this licence you can keep one animal as a pet. If you want to buy and keep another native animal as a pet you will need to change to a Native Animal Keeper Licence (more than one animal). Animals covered by this licence have basic keeping requirements and are readily available in captivity.

Who can apply

  • people aged 16 years and over
  • parent or guardian of children under 16.

Which reptiles can be kept

Choose your reptile

Buy your reptile

Licence cost and duration

  • costs $50, less for pensioners
  • lasts 5 years before needing renewal.

Apply

  • online
  • by telephone with the NSW Government Licensing Service – 13 77 88
  • by OEH web page
  • please allow enough time for your application to be assessed; you will be contacted if further information is needed to complete the assessment.

Record keeping

  • keep a record of when you buy your animal (including supplier's details, your details and date of purchase) to demonstrate that it has been legally sourced.
  • you do not have to submit records to OEH for animals kept under a Companion Animal Keepers Licence.

Conditions

Renewals

Type of licence needed

Native Animal Keeper Licence, R1 Basic Reptile

With this licence you can keep more than one reptile as a pet. You can also add another class of animal if you want to keep a bird or other kind of native animal as a pet. 

After 2 years of keeping animals you may be able to upgrade to an advanced licence (for example, harder-to-look-after or less common reptile species).

Who can apply

  • people aged 16 years and over
  • parent or guardian of children under 16.

Which reptiles can be kept

Choose your reptile

Buy your reptile

Licence cost and duration

  • $63 per class for 2 years
  • $143 per class for 5 years
  • discounts available for pensioners and online applications.

Apply

  • online
  • by telephone with the NSW Government Licensing Service – 13 77 88
  • via OEH web page
  • please allow enough time for your application to be assessed; you will be contacted if further information is needed to complete the assessment.

Record keeping

  • keep an electronic record book or paper record about your animal(s)
  • record when you buy your animal (including the supplier’s details, your details and date of purchase), plus all births, deaths and disposals
  • lodge records in April each year.

Conditions

Renewals


To upgrade your licence to a more advanced licence you must:

  • be aged 18 years or over
  • have been licenced to own a basic reptile class 1 (R1) for 2 years before upgrading to a class R2 advanced licence (harder-to-look-after or venomous reptiles)
  • animals that you hold under an advanced licence must be from the same group as those held under your basic licence (e.g. basic snake to advanced snake, basic turtle to advanced turtle)
  • have held a class R2 licence and R2 species for at least 1 year to upgrade to R3, and so on up to R5.

Class R3, R4 and R5 licences

Reptiles classed as R3, R4 and R5 have special requirements. For example, they include venomous species that pose risks if not handled safely.

See reptiles in the NSW Native Animal Keepers’ Species List (PDF 956KB).

To upgrade to a class 3, 4 or 5 licence you must have:

  • a first-aid certificate
  • escape proof enclosures
  • a lockable room
  • references confirming your experience and skills in handling venomous reptiles
  • an emergency response plan.

Licence upgrade cost and duration

  • $120 per class for 2 years
  • $240 per class for 5 years
  • discounts available for pensioners
  • lodging your application does not guarantee approval of an advanced class licence, further information may be requested by OEH.

Apply

Record keeping

  • keep an electronic record book or paper record about your animal(s)
  • record when you buy your animal (including the supplier’s details, your details and date of purchase), plus any births, deaths and disposals
  • lodge records in April each year.

Conditions

Renewals