Constrictor Rule

View USARK's Constrictor Rule comment at


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
Q. What is this?
A. This is known as the 'Constrictor Rule.' This rule has previously listed species of constrictor snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act. That makes interstate transportation/commerce and importation illegal.

Q. Is this same as the Burmese python listing?
A. There were 9 species originally proposed. Four species were listed and the rule remained open. The remaining five species (Boa constrictor, Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, Green anaconda and Beni anaconda) are now being reviewed. These species have remained in limbo following the 2012 listing of Burmese, Indian, Northern/Southern African pythons and Yellow anaconda.

Q. Is this new?
A. The threat never went away and it didn't suddenly re-emerge. USARK has remained active on the issue including a lengthy document delivered to the Department of the Interior (DOI) and USFWS during a Washington, D.C. meeting in April 2013 disputing the bad science that was used to list the original species in 2012.

Q. What species may be affected?
A. There are five species being reviewed. This includes all subspecies.
  • Boa constrictors (Boa constrictor: see subspecies below)
  • Reticulated python (Python reticulatus: referred to as Broghammerus reticulatus by FWS)
  • DeSchauensee’s anaconda (Eunectes deschauenseei)
  • Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
  • Beni anaconda (Eunectes beniensis)

Q. What species are currently listed as injurious?

A. There are currently 5 species listed. These are usually called "the original 4 species" as at the time of proposal, Burmese pythons and Indian Pythons were subspecies of Python molurus. Now they are separate species.

  • Burmese python (Python Bivattatus)
  • Indian Pythons (Python molurus)
  • Yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)
  • Northern African Python (Python sebae)
  • Southern African Python (Python natalensis)

Note: Indian pythons were previously restricted from interstate transportation as they are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Q. Is this a ban?

A. This is not a ban to own the species. FWS interprets this as a ban on any interstate transportation and commerce. It also makes importation into the U.S. illegal.

Q. Will my pets be illegal if this passes?

A. This is not a bill that must pass into a law. This is a change to what is known as the "Constrictor Rule." If the species are added to this rule, it will not make your pets illegal. You can keep your pets. You can get more pets of these species. You can even breed these species. However, as FWS chooses to interpret the Lacey Act, all those actions must be done within your state. You cannot get new pets from out of state, sell any offspring out of state or take your pets with you if move to another state.

Q. Does this include Red-tailed boas?

A. Yes. Red-tailed boas are Boa constrictor constrictor (BCC). These are fairly rare as pets. The subspecies Boa consrictor imperator (BCI) is commonly called Red-tailed boa, but these snakes are smaller than the true Red-tailed boas. More appropriate common names are Colombian boas, Central American boas or Common boas. Many localities of BCI are named after their geographic range, such as Hog Island boas, Honduran boas, Cay Caulker boas, etc. They are all BCI. By far the most common boas kept as pets and nearly all morphs are BCI. They come from Colombia (north of the Andes mountains) and north through Central America and Mexico.

Q. Will my pet snakes be illegal?

A. This is not a ban on having these snakes as pets. If a species is listed as injurious, it makes interstate transportation/commerce and importation illegal (according to FWS). You could not take your snake across state lines for any reason; not to the vet, not for an educational show, not to a reptile show, not because you moved or were transferred for work, etc. Since interstate transportation is banned, breeders cannot sell or ship their offspring to those outside of their state. Any snakes you have will be legal to keep, you just can't move them. Essentially, the species may no longer be in the pet community as breeders would lose the majority of their customer base.

Q. Does this affect Dumerils boas, Sand boas or other boas?

A. "Boa constrictor" is the species being reviewed so all subspecies would be included. There are nine subspecies of Boa constrictor (see below). Many snakes with the common name "boa" are not Boa constrictor. Snakes like Dumerils boas, Sand boas, Amazon Tree boas, Emerald Tree boas, Rosy boas, etc. are not the species Boa constrictor, so they are not included. However, if we don't stop and fight the listing of the current species, additional species may be proposed at any time. This could include Ball pythons or any other common pet boa or python.

Q. Is this because large snakes may be considered a public safety risk or have anything to do with animal welfare?

A. The Lacey Act deals with injurious, similar to invasive, species. It has no jurisdiction over exaggerated public safety risks or animal welfare. While the animal right (AR) groups push for a listing due to these reasons, because even they know there is no legitimate science to warrant a listing on injurious grounds, that is not the role of Lacey Act. List of Boa constrictor (B. c.) subspecies:

  • B. c. imperator - Colombian boa, Central American boa, Common boa (Note: These are often called "Red-tailed boas" but they do not get as large or come from the same countries as B. c. constrictor. B. c. imperator are by far the most common boas kept as pets. Nearly all morph boas are B. c. imperator.)
  • B.c. amarali - Short-tailed boa
  • B. c. constrictor - Red-tailed boa
  • B. c. longicauda - Long-tailed boa
  • B. c. nebulosus or nebulosa - Clouded boa
  • B. c. occidentalis - Argentine boa
  • B. c. orophias -St. Lucian boa
  • B. c. ortonii - Orton's boa
  • B. c. sabogae - Pearl Island boa, Panamanian Island boa


All Americans who appreciate their freedom to have pets should comment. This may only affect big snake keepers now, but any species could be the next target. The entire pet community is being picked apart as we are not supporting each other in protecting our freedoms. Support your pet and reptile community and comment today! Over 80 million American households have pets. Over five million of those have pet reptiles. There should be tens or hundreds of thousands of comments made against adding additional species to the Constrictor Rule. This needs to be shared! Below are Talking Points, comment links, mailing address, sample letter, FAQ and more. 

Deadline is July 24, 2014: Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is taking additional comments regarding listing five species of snakes (Boa constrictor, Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, Green anaconda and Beni anaconda) as injurious under the Lacey Act. These species were originally proposed in 2010. If listed, FWS would ban interstate transportation/commerce and importation. Remember to be professional and civil with your comments.

Comments must be submitted at!documentDetail;D=FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015-4570 and clicking Comment Now! in the upper right. You may also comment at!submitComment;D=FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015-4570.

Key Talking Points
(These can be used in your comments. Personalize all comments, but you may copy/paste these to strengthen your statement. If unsure how to copy/paste, see bottom of this page.)

  • The species in review should not be classified as "injurious." Any studies, including the USGS study, that originally prompted the listing have been discredited and contradicted in the time since the original proposal. Today, the best science available has demonstrated that none of these species are biologically suited to survive beyond southernmost Florida.
  • It has been determined that Boa constrictors cannot survive the colder temperatures outside of southern Florida.
  • Reticulated pythons demonstrate that they are especially fragile and temperature sensitive during egg incubation. As a result, there is no chance of these species establishing themselves in the wild and there are no populations in the U.S.
  • Extreme South Florida provides the only possible habitat for these animals and the State wildlife authorities have already taken measures to manage and control trade and prevent accidental introduction. A federal ban on interstate activities is an unnecessarily overreaching and extreme response that impacts the livelihoods and pet choices of Americans in the other 48 continental states.
  • The interstate transportation ban is draconian because it prohibits moving an animal just a few feet, from one state where ownership is legal to another state where ownership is legal. Even a trip across town with a pet could constitute a federal crime in greater metro areas. This is an overwhelming injustice on the right to travel for Americans.
  • This listing would have a hugely negative economic impact on family-owned businesses across the U.S.
  • This listing will impact pet owners, veterinarians, zoos, educational organizations, breeders, and others.
  • Studies have shown that up to $100,000,000 annually would be lost in direct revenue in the pet industry by listing these species. Jobs and businesses will be lost as a result.
  • The impact will be felt disproportionately by tens of thousands of families, including those in military service, that already hold these snakes as pets.
  • There will be a lost education opportunity for the public.  For this reason, a huge and diverse group of stakeholders opposes the listing.

Additional Talking Points

  • Temperature extremes were completely ignored in the USGS paper used to propose these species as injurious. Extremes are much more relevant than temperature means.
  • These tropical species of snakes do not have natural hibernation instincts. They do not seek refuge as temperatures drop and this has been scientifically proven.
  • Boa constrictors are native into the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico. They cannot survive the lower temperatures or populate into the U.S. north of their natural range. If they could be invasive into the U.S., they would have already established over a large portion.
  • A breeding population of Boa constrictor has been noted on the Deering Estate since the 1970s. In over 40 years, the snakes have not moved outside of the original parcel of land and struggle to survive.
  • These species all have very unique biological traits. They vary greatly from each other and also from the snake species that have already been listed as injurious.
  • The proposal to list these snakes under the federal Lacey Act was opposed by a wide group of stakeholders, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), the pet industry, and the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, to name a few.
  • Listing these species as injurious will risk pet welfare and health as transportation to the nearest or specialized veterinarian, which may be across a state border, would be illegal.
  • Boa constrictors, Reticulated pythons and Green anacondas are often used for educational outreach programs with presenters often travelling between states.
  • The proposal was highlighted in a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing as federal overreach and at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing which featured National Geographic’s resident herpetologist in opposition to the listing.
  • This rule is an unnecessary federal intrusion into state wildlife management and misuse of the Lacey Act.
  • There is no valid scientific evidence to support the listings.
Sample Comment
Please modify your comment by personalizing it and using other/additional Talking Points.

There is no valid, peer-reviewed science to support adding species to the Constrictor Rule. As an American citizen, I oppose the listing of any additional species of constrictor snakes, including Boa constrictor, Reticulated python, DeSchauensee’s anaconda, Green anaconda and Beni anaconda, as injurious under the Lacey Act. Any studies, including the USGS study, that originally prompted the listing have been discredited and contradicted in the time since the original proposal. Today, the best science available has demonstrated that none of these species are biologically suited to survive beyond southernmost Florida.

Listing additional species will harm animal welfare and destroy education programs, conservation efforts and family businesses. Even a trip across town with a pet could constitute a federal crime in greater metro areas. This is an overwhelming injustice on the right to travel for Americans.

A significant amount of time has passed since the last opportunity for public comment closed in 2010. Substantial new biological and economic information has become available since then. The proposed listings will have severe educational, economic, conservation and scientific impacts.  This affects tens of thousands of American families and is based upon bad science. Listing additional species will not protect the environment but it will destroy American freedoms, families and businesses. I appreciate your time to review my comment and make the correct decision by not adding additional species. Any other decision would be an unconstitutional and overreaching infringement on my freedoms as an American.

Sample Letters

Four sample letter can be downloaded at

Additional information

Comments by U.S. mail:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: Docket No. FWS–R9–FHC–2008–0015
Division of Policy and Directives Management U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203

Denial for an extension to the comment period by FWS can be viewed at

The Federal Register announcement can be viewed at

How to copy and paste for PC users
  1. Place your cursor near the beginning of anything you would like to copy.
  2. Hold the left click button on your mouse and drag over the selection (this will highlight the words).
  3. Remove finger from left click and words will remain highlighted.
  4. Hit "ctrl" and "c" at the same time on your keyboard (this will copy the selection).
  5. Go to the place you would like to paste, in this case it is!submitComment;D=FWS-R9-FHC-2008-0015-4570, and left click in the text box.
  6. Press "ctrl" and "v" on your keyboard.
  7. Your selection will be pasted.
USARK's letter for an extension of the comment period can be viewed at

Additional Talking Points regarding an extension of the comment period are below. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) will also be requesting an extension. All affected groups, businesses and individuals are encouraged to do the same. FWS has allowed only 30 days for comment, which is inadequate. Talking Points for Extension Request
  • A significant amount of time has passed since the last opportunity for public comment closed in 2010.
  • Substantial new biological and economic information has become available since the end of the last comment period.
  • The proposed listings will have severe educational, economic, conservation and scientific impacts, and therefore adequate time for submissions is necessary.
  • Tens of thousands of responsible pet keepers will also be negatively affected.
  • Reptile owners are a diverse group, so extra time is needed to ensure that all concerns are heard. This is particularly true for military service members.

Article written by USARK