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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Fish & Wildlife > Nongame & Endangered Wildlife > Wildlife Diversity - Herpetology > Indiana's Reptile & Amphibian Regulations Indiana's Reptile & Amphibian Regulations

Donate to the Nongame FundThe impetus for new regulations

The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife strives to maintain viable populations of our native species for present and future generations. Due to increased funding and new environmental concerns, research on reptiles and amphibians is currently occurring at a faster pace. The dynamic nature of this research leads to rapidly evolving changes in reptile and amphibian management and regulation.

Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) regulates Indiana’s native reptiles and amphibians. The regulations listed herein have been put in place based on research and input from the scientific community. The complete administrative code for the Division of Fish and Wildlife can be found in Article 9 online at: www.IN.gov/legislative/iac/title312.html

Take of reptiles or amphibians

Crawfish FrogIndiana residents over the age of 17 may not collect amphibians or reptiles from the wild in Indiana unless they have a valid hunting or fishing license, unless otherwise exempted by law. For all collectors, there is a daily bag limit of 2 per day and a possession limit of 4 on all nongame species except endangered species and eastern box turtles for the period of April 1 through March 31 of the following year. Collection of endangered species and eastern box turtles is prohibited.  No more than 4 live native reptiles or amphibians can be possessed per species with the exception of the game species, which have a limit of 50 game turtles and 50 game frogs, and those possessed under a special permit.

Box turtles and their subspecies, demonstrated to have been acquired before 2005 (pre-law) or legally obtained outside of Indiana may be possessed under a special permit. Permit applications for pre-law box turtles must be received by January 1, 2005.

The common snapping turtle, smooth softshell turtle, spiny softshell turtle, bullfrog and green frog are regulated as game animals with specified methods of take, bag limits and seasons. These three species of turtles can be taken at anytime. The bullfrog and green frog can be taken any time EXCEPT between April 30 and June 15. The daily bag limit for game frogs or turtles is 25; the possession limit is 50.

A person must not take a reptile or amphibian from a DNR property unless the person is issued a scientific purposes license under 312 IAC 9-10-6. Game turtles and frogs regulated with bag limits are exempt from this clause under 312 IAC 9-5-2 and 312 IAC 9-5-3. Additional information is available in the through the Indiana Hunting and Fishing Guide.

To prevent the spread of disease and other problems, a captive reptile may not be released into the wild without a special permit except under the following conditions: the reptile has been held in captivity no longer than 30 days; it has not been housed (caged) with other animals; and the release is at the original site of capture. All three of these conditions must be met, otherwise a permit is required from the Division of Fish and Wildlife to release the reptile (312 IAC 9-5-6).

Ornate Box TurtleSale of reptiles or amphibians

The purchase or sale of Indiana’s native reptiles and amphibians is prohibited.*

The sale of turtles with a carapace less than 4 inches long (regardless of species or origin) is prohibited, except for valid scientific or educational purposes as defined in 312 IAC 9-5-7.
Exemptions are made for certain educational institutions, zoological parks, fish suppliers and holders of a reptile captive breeder’s license. (This license is valid for 8 species of snakes only.)

Bullfrog and green frog tadpoles may be sold by holders of a fish haulers and suppliers license or aquaculture permit if the tadpoles are a by-product of raising fish and if the tadpoles have a tail at least 1 inch long. The young of eight species of native snakes (defined by a species-specific length prescribed in the regulations) may be sold by holders of a reptile captive breeder’s license. In addition, albinistic, leucistic and xanthic specimens of Indiana’s native species may be sold.

A wild animal possession permit and special confinement parameters are required for individuals owning crocodilians five feet or more in length or a venomous reptile obtained lawfully. The purchase or sale of these species is prohibited in Indiana.

*Unless otherwise specified, these regulations apply to eggs, larva, meat, shells and other parts.

Global threats to amphibians and reptiles:

  • Loss of habitat
    The amount of habitat available for amphibians and reptiles in Indiana has decreased over the last century. In fact, scientists believe that approximately 88 percent of Indiana’s natural wetlands are gone. It is known that many species depend on wetlands for all or a portion of their life cycle.
  • New scientific information
    Research shows that some amphibians and many reptiles have a low reproduction rate. These species rely on their long lifespan in the wild to maintain viable populations.
  • Sensitivity to environmental contaminants
    Increased contaminants in the environment have negative impacts on reproduction in amphibians and reptiles.
  • Increased taking:
    Taking of amphibians and reptiles for local and especially foreign trade (for food and pets) continues to cause declines in populations.
  • Dispersal ability
    Suitable habitat is becoming more fragmented. Habitat fragmentation raises new concerns about the ability of reptiles and amphibians to maintain current populations and recolonize restored habitats.

Game species

These species are regulated by hunting and fishing laws in Indiana. Please refer to the Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide or the Indiana Fishing Guide.

  • Common snapping turtle
  • Smooth softshell turtle
  • Spiny softshell turtle
  • Bullfrog
  • Green frog