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​The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has jurisdiction over reptiles and amphibians in the Commonwealth and has regulations in place to protect those species. Reference 58 Pa. Code § 79 for complete information on reptile and amphibian regulations.


Some reptile and amphibian species are legal to catch or take from the lands and waters of the Commonwealth. A fishing license is required to catch or take reptiles and amphibians, and other special regulations, seasons and possession limits apply. It is unlawful to possess endangered or threatened native species. Reference the Summary Book​ for information on reptile and amphibian hunting seasons and possession limits.

Venomous Snake Permit

A permit is required to hunt, take, catch, kill or possess Timber Rattlesnakes and Eastern Copperhead snakes. Permits can only be purchased from an issuing agent. Venomous Snake Permit holders must submit a catch report regardless if they did not hunt or hunted and did not harvest.

PFBC regulations provide that a person may kill a venomous snake in defense of life and limb. This can be done regardless of the season. However, by law, a person must report to the Commission in writing within five days that such a killing occurred. Persons killing a venomous snake in defense of life and limb are not permitted to retain the snake.

Commercial Harvest of Snapping Turtle Permit

A permit is required to hunt, take, catch or kill Snapping Turtles for the purpose of sale, barter or trade. Buy permits online or from an issuing agent. Snapping Turtle Permit holders must submit a harvest report regardless of whether they take, catch or kill any Snapping Turtles during the permit year.

Snapping Turtle Permits are not needed to collect Snapping Turtles for personal use. Individuals with a valid Pennsylvania fishing license are permitted to take a daily limit of 15 Snapping Turtles and have a total of 30 in their possession. Reference the Summary Book for seasons and consumption advice.


Permits are required to hold reptiles and amphibians, whether for rehabilitation or educational purposes. These permits are not Scientific Collector's Permits, which allow for the collection and possession of animals during closed seasons without regard to minimum sizes and daily limits.

Amphibian and Reptile Rehabilitation Permit

Amphibian and Reptile Educator Possession Permit


The PFBC's regulations do not regulate possession of non-native species of reptiles and amphibians. The Summary Book details possession limits on native species. It is illegal to release into the wild any species that are not native to Pennsylvania. It is also illegal to release any native species of turtles taken from Pennsylvania unless:

    • The turtle is released at the point of capture.
    • The turtle is released within 30 days of capture.
    • The turtle is released between May 1 and September 31.
    • The turtle is in good health.
    • The turtle was not in contact with other reptiles or amphibians while in captivity.
Do not release pets into the wild. It can be dangerous for the animal or disrupt the ecosystem. Learn more about how pets released into the wild can harm the environment on the Aquatic Invasive Species page.

Individuals who can no longer keep their pet should find it a new home, surrender it to an adoption center or discuss their options with a local veterinarian.