Popular Arizona Natives in Herpetoculture
by Petra Spiess
For many, the word "Arizona" conjures up images of expansive, barren sand
dunes and monuments of sun bleached rock. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Arizona
is a state of incredible diversity, both in ecozones and wildlife. Climatic zones range
form the hot and dry Sonoran desert to the alpine meadows atop Humphry's Peak, Arizona's
highest mountain. Many people who have never been to Arizona and seen its splendor believe
that the desert zones are devoid of life, when in fact, the opposite is true. In the harsh
climate of the Sonoran desert, life is subtle but abundant, and can be seen on display if
one is patient and observant. Corresponding with the incredible diversity of Arizona's
ecozones is an amazing number of popular reptile species commonly kept and bred in
herpetoculture. Before any discussion of the natural history, captive care, and breeding
of these popular species can take place however, a review of Arizona's native wildlife
laws is in order.
Arizona Natives and the Law
Compared to some states, Arizona has rather stringent native wildlife laws. All of the
species that will be discussed here , with the exception of the gila monster (Heloderma
suspectum), can be collected from the wild, provided the collector possesses either an
in-state or out-of-state general hunting license. There are different daily bag and
possession limits for each species. Rosy boas (Lichanura trivirgata) and western
green ratsnakes (Senticolis triaspis intermedia) both have a yearly bag limit of
two and a possession limit of four of each species. The banded gecko (Coleonyx
variegatus) has a yearly bag and possession limit of twenty in aggregate. In Arizona,
there exists no permit system for the captive breeding and sale of native wildlife.
Captive born offspring of legally acquired parent stock must be given away as a gift or
disposed of as directed by Arizona Game and Fish Department (Levell, 1995). In 1995, a
group of individuals submitted a proposal that would have legalized the sale of captive
born Arizona native reptiles, but it fell through. Therefore, the sale of any native
reptile, whether it be wild caught or captive born, is strictly illegal in the state of
Arizona. Please obey all state laws regarding take and possession limits of each species.
Breaking state reptile laws reflects poorly on herpetoculturists as a whole and only leads
to more restrictive legislation. Four popular Arizona natives in herpetoculture include:
the rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata), the western green ratsnake (Senticolis
triaspis intermedia), the banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus), and the
gila monster (Heloderma suspectum).
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