New law prohibiting possession of most native reptiles, amphibians now in effect

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.VA. — New regulations making it unlawful to take or possess most native reptiles and amphibians for any reason are now in effect in West Virginia.

“Reptiles and amphibians are a valuable wildlife resource and unfortunately we’ve had several large poaching cases involving these animals,” said Kevin Oxenrider, amphibian and reptile program leader for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

“When it comes to the illegal wildlife trade, people don’t think about turtles, snakes and salamanders. But these animals call West Virginia home, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect them so they can continue to serve their ecological function in the environment.”

Prohibited Native West Virginia Amphibian and Reptile Species – The new regulations prohibit the taking and possessing of 26 salamander species, 13 frog and toad species, six lizard species, 23 snake species and 12 turtle species.

• Streamside salamander
• Jefferson salamander
• Spotted salamander
• Marbled salamander
• Small-mouthed salamander
• Green salamander
• Eastern hellbender
• Cave salamander
• West Virginia spring salamander
• Four-toed salamander
• Common mudpuppy
• Red-spotted newt (eastern newt)
• Red-backed salamander
• White-spotted slimy salamander
• Northern ravine salamander
• Northern slimy salamander
• Valley and ridge salamander
• Cumberland plateau salamander
• Cheat Mountain salamander
• Yellow-spotted woodland salamander
• Cow Knob salamander
• Southern ravine salamander
• Shenandoah Mountain salamander
• Wehrle’s salamander
• Midland mud salamander
• Northern red salamander

Frogs and Toads
• Blanchard’s cricket frog
• Eastern cricket frog
• American toad
• Fowler’s toad
• Cope’s gray treefrog
• Gray treefrog
• Pickerel frog
• Northern leopard frog
• Wood frog
• Mountain chorus frog
• Spring peeper
• Upland chorus frog
• Eastern spadefoot

• Eastern six-lined racerunner
• Northern coal skink
• Common five-lined skink
• Broad-headed skink
• Eastern fence lizard
• Little brown skink

• Eastern copperhead
• Eastern wormsnake
• Northern black racer
• Timber rattlesnake
• Northern ring-necked snake
• Eastern hog-nosed snake
• Eastern kingsnake
• Eastern black kingsnake
• Eastern milksnake
• Common watersnake
• Northern rough greensnake
• Smooth greensnake
• Eastern ratsnake
• Red cornsnake
• Gray ratsnake
• Northern pinesnake
• Queen snake
• Dekay’s brownsnake
• Red-bellied snake
• Common ribbonsnake
• Eastern gartersnake
• Eastern smooth earthsnake
• Mountain earthsnake

• Midland smooth softshell
• Eastern painted turtle
• Midland painted turtle
• Spotted turtle
• Wood turtle
• Northern map turtle
• Ouachita map turtle
• Eastern river cooter
• Northern red-bellied cooter
• Eastern musk turtle
• Woodland (eastern) box turtle
• Red-eared slider

Exceptions to New Reptile and Amphibian Regulation – While the new regulations make it unlawful to take or possess native reptiles and amphibians, there are exceptions for individuals who have written permission from the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Chief. Individuals may also legally take and possess bullfrogs, green frogs, snapping turtles and eastern spiny softshell turtles.

“We know that these turtles and frogs are commonly collected for consumption, so we wanted to make sure there was an exception that allowed folks to still take them and eat them,” Oxenrider said.

Authorization to Possess Lawfully Obtained Reptiles or Amphibians – The new regulations also allow for individuals who came into possession of a prohibited native reptile or amphibian before March 23, 2021 to obtain authorization from the WVDNR to lawfully maintain possession of the animal for the rest of its life. Those who wish to request an authorization letter should contact their local WVDNR district office or complete an online application, available at Authorization requests must be submitted no later than March 31, 2022.

Those with questions about the new regulations should contact their local WVDNR district office or call 304-558-6200. To download an updated copy of West Virginia’s reptile and amphibian regulations, visit

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