Illinois Herptiles Act

Status: Signed into law by Governor. Effective 1/1/15. (View the final text HERE.)

6/27/14: Sent to Governor.

5/30/14: Passed Concurrence in Senate. Vote of 51-1. It has now passed both houses and awaits signature by Governor Quinn.

5/19/14: Passed in the House with a vote of 87 to 23 after a short debate. It will now go back to the Senate for a final vote (since there was an amendment added).

5/13/14: House Amendment 1 adopted: The amendment is viewable HERE.

The amendment does three things if adopted:

  1. The 4" turtle language has been completely removed. (This was Section 30-5: prohibition on the sale of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles whose carapaces are 4″ or less.
  2. Malagasy cat-eyed snakes (Madagascarophis) are removed from the list of "venomous reptiles."
  3. Public facilities accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) are added to the exempt organizations list.

Illinois Senate Bill 902, “Herptile-Herps Act,” was assigned to the Agricultural and Conservation Committee on 3/19/14. This bill will separate herps into their own code. SB 902 was introduced January 24, 2013 as a bill concerning deer hunting (a "shell bill" lacking real substance). This bill has now been amended by replacing the entire text of the deer hunting bill with the "Herptiles-Herps Act."

This bill would move herps into their own area of the code and would take precedence over other Illinois laws and enforcement regarding herps. The bill has passed the Senate and the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee.  It will now go to vote by the House. A very similar "Herptiles-Herps Act" passed the Senate last year, but was defeated in the House.

The "Herptiles-Herps Act" is a pro-herp bill.

Thanks to the voices of Illinois herpers and a working relationship provided by the bill author, negative aspects of the bill have been addressed (both last year and this year).

Complete bill text can be found HERE.

Pro-herp Aspects:

  • This Act will allow for the responsible keeping of some reptile species that cannot currently be kept.
  • Certain U.S. native venomous reptiles could be kept with permits and by following certain requirements (see "Special Use Herptiles" below).
  • Minimum caging standards are established to address any public safety concerns.
  • Crocodilians, Crocodile monitors and Komodo Dragons could be kept with permits and following certain requirements (see "Special Use Herptiles" below).
  • A “Herpetoculture permit” is required for breeding and selling indigenous species.
  • Medically significant poisonous amphibians, including cane or marine toads (Bufo marinus), Colorado river toads (Bufo alvarius), or any other amphibian found to be medically significant, shall only be allowed for bona fide educational purposes or research purposes by exempted institutions.
  • This Act would remove the 15’ constrictor snake limit, as they are currently illegal in Illinois.
  • Poison dart frogs bred and raised in captivity will be exempt from the permit process.
  • Exemptions:
    • Public facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA);
    • Licensed veterinarians or anyone operating under the authority of a licensed veterinarian;
    • Wildlife sanctuaries (defined in bill);
    • Accredited research or medical institutions;
    • Licensed or accredited educational institutions;
    • Circuses licensed and in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and all rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture;
    • Others listed under Article 110.
  • A new term, “special use herptiles,” would be applied to crocodilians, Komodo dragons, Crocodile monitors and allowed venomous snakes. To be kept, these animals would require:
    • Herptile Special Use permit;
    • Liability insurance;
    • 6 educational programs annually;
    • Inspection and approval of facility;
    • Those interested in keeping approved venomous species must have 250 documented hours of experience with venomous reptiles.

Quick find glossary:

  • Native Herps: Article 5
  • Venomous Reptiles: Article 10
  • Boas, Pythons and Anacondas: Article 15
  • Crocodilians: Article 20
  • Crocodile Monitors and Komodo Dragons: Article 25
  • Turtles: Article 30
  • Amphibians: Article 35
  • Herptile Scientific Collection Permits: Article 40 and 45
  • Herpetoculture Permits: Article 50 and 55
  • Herptile Special Use Permits: Article 60, 65, 70, 75, 80 and 85

Talking Points

  • Nearly 200,000 households in Illinois have pet reptiles.
  • The reptile segment of the pet industry generates over $55 million in annual revenues for Illinois small businesses.
  • Many small businesses are dependent upon income from reptiles and reptile-related goods and services.
  • One of the largest reptile shows in the country is held in Tinley Park twice annually, the North American Reptile Breeders Conference (NARBC).
  • The NARBC alone generates hundreds of thousands of dollars for local businesses including hotels, restaurants, car services and others. This is in addition to the revenue generated for reptile-related businesses during and following the show.
  • One of the largest businesses in the reptile industry, Timberline Fisheries, is located in Marion, IL.
  • Illinois has a very strong herp community that provides educational programs and conservation efforts.
  • The largest herp educational show in the country is held in Chicago, the Chicago Herp Society's 'ReptileFest.'
  • Only 10 deaths from large snakes are documented since 1990 in the entire United States. At least one of these cases is noted as fraudulent.
  • Exotic species of reptiles are also not a threat to the environment. They cannot establish themselves in Illinois as the climate is not acceptable.
  • This bill has vast support within the state from pet keepers, hobbyists, herp societies and accredited institutions.
  • Caging requirements set forth in this bill will address any public safety concerns regarding these animals.
  • The "Special Use Herptile Permit" would require insurance and place liability upon keepers of those reptiles.
  • Facility inspection leads to best husbandry for the animals.
  • Required educational outreach programs for the "special use herptiles" would lead to only qualified individuals having these animals.


Contact your Illinois State Senator:
Governor Quinn: Phone: 217-782-0244 and

Sample Letter

Subject: Yes to SB 902

I write today to support SB 902, the “Herptile-Herps Act.” SB 902 has vast support within Illinois from pet keepers, accredited zoos and aquariums, private breeders, reptile societies and the public. The bill takes action to protect public safety, animal welfare and place accountability upon those who keep reptiles and amphibians.

The reptile segment of the pet industry generates over $55 million in annual revenues for Illinois small businesses, which are dependent upon income from reptiles and reptile-related goods and services. This bill protects these businesses and the 200,000 households in Illinois that have pet reptiles.

The largest herp educational show in the country is held in Chicago, Chicago Herp Society's 'ReptileFest,' illustrating Illinois' strong herp community that provides education and benefits conservation efforts. Under the new special use herptile permit system, this bill provides that only qualified people can work with certain species, including venomous snakes, for educational purposes.

Illinois should embrace and pass SB 902. The bill is good for me, my pets and small business, while simplifying enforcement of illegal acts. Please support and pass this bill, showing that Illinois is a leader in protecting the rights of its citizens and animal welfare.

Previous Contacts for bill: 

Contact members of the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee (member contact information below).

Here is a copy/paste list of Committee emails, though it is better to send individual emails:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Agriculture & Conservation Committee - Members

Role Representative (Click name for contact information) Party
Chairperson : Patrick J. Verschoore ( D
Vice-Chairperson : Jerry F. Costello, II ( D
Republican Spokesperson : Donald L. Moffitt (
Member: Kelly Burke ( D
Member: John D. Cavaletto ( R
Member: Katherine Cloonen ( D
Member: Marcus C. Evans, Jr. ( D
Member: Brad E. Halbrook ( R
Member: Josh Harms ( R
Member: Stephanie A. Kifowit ( D
Member: Frank J. Mautino ( D
Member: Charles E. Meier ( R
Member: Christian L. Mitchell ( D
Member: Raymond Poe ( R
Member: Wayne Rosenthal ( R
Member: Sue Scherer ( D
Member: Brian W. Stewart ( R


Previous Committee (passed in Senate)

To support this bill, contact Agricultural and Conservation Committee members and let them know you approve of the bill as an Illinois resident or someone from outside the state who would be affected (such as a business or educator). Contact information can be found below and at

Senator McCann:
Senator Brady:
Senator Manar:
Senator McCarter:
Senator Koehler:
Senator Holmes:
Senator Frerichs:
Senator Sullivan:

Senator Jacobs:

Passed House (previous information):

Your Representative: Below is a link to contact your federal Representative. Simply click the link and enter your zip code. You will see your Representative’s information (you may need to narrow search with your address).

Article written by USARK