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Old 08-21-20, 03:33 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug-2020
Location: Los Angeles
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Any Thamnophis keepers in California?

I'm curious what you are keeping. I want to get a collection started but the rules appear fairly restrictive over here in Cali (and confusing/secretive, at least to me). The California fishing regulations spell out some possession limits for reptiles which my research has shown that yes, those limits include the pets you have at home.

My reading of the law laid out within the 2020 fishing regs is that the San Francisco gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia) can not be kept at all, and neither can the South Coast gartersnake. However the South coast garter is listed within the regs as Thamnophis sirtalis spp. Uhhhh ok so basically a common name for something within sirtalis.

All other sirtalis species appear to have a possession limit of just 2. Seemingly regardless of where they come from (major bummer). Additionally, here is the complete list of other Thamnophis which have a possession limit of just 2:

Terrestrial gartersnake (Thamnophis elegans)
Sierra gartersnake (Thamnophis couchii)
Aquatic gartersnake (Thamnophis atratus)
Northwestern gartersnake (Thamnophis
Checkered gartersnake (Thamnophis

2 of each of these and 2 sirtalis would actually be a pretty sweet collection. But the problem is I really want to pick up a pair and do a little breeding. And I prefer captive bred which I may not be allowed to purchase for anything native (I might have to field collect or get lucky and find someone willing to gift me some babies).

Breeding any of these would instantly put me over the limit and I would have only a certain amount of time to legally unload the babies (I think it was a month or two). And if any of them had a natural range within California, I would not legally be allowed to obtain any monetary compensation for the offspring (Natives can not be sold. Only gifted away).

That latter info about giving away the babies was not obtained through the fishing regs but some other source that I researched but have since lost track of. I could probably find it again.

The California department of fish and wildlife restricted species list only lists a few colubrids as off limits: "1. Dispholidus typus (Boomslang) . 2. Genus Thelotornis (Bird, twig, or vine snakes) . 3. Genus Nerodia (watersnakes)"

But it also says that the list is not to be construed as an exhaustive list (I know for sure it isn't) and basically it's up to you to figure out what is allowed, and (they don't actually say this part explicitly) best of luck finding a comprehensive list that makes the rules clear.

I would like to know what species I can keep without restriction and I don't want to take any chances or else I'll just keep something else entirely. But I kind of had my heart set on some Thamnophis. I emailed about this stuff through some government contact page but never got any reply. Probably the workers don't even know this stuff most of the time. And yeah I know there is a good chance I could probably get away with some stuff that isn't strictly legal, but I see no reason to even try anything like that.

Anyone have any info?? I really like some of the Mexican species but I don't know if there is some obscure/hard to find law against them. I've hunted around the internet for some official document that lays everything out plainly but have found no such document. Here is a link to the fishing regs if you wanted to search the word "garter" and tell me if I'm reading it wrong:

California actually has a somewhat cool way to legally obtain and keep native species and I appreciate that. But they are much more restrictive when it comes to breeding, and actually selling the babies is a pretty big no-no I think. California is home to some of the best garters on the planet and they don't want it to turn into some gold rush on the native populations, which I understand. But it's a bummer for me. I'd be happy with some nice east coast sirtalis but the explicit text of the 2020 regs seems to limit those to just 2.

Sorry for the wall of text. I've done a lot of research on this stuff and am still confused.
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