Ownership laws for Leopard geckos in South Africa

Ownership laws for Leopard geckos in South Africa
Published by Author Renier Delport Posted on on .
Filed under Categories Leopard geckos, .
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Legal issues surrounding the ownership of these lizards in South Africa are frequent concerns of new and aspiring Leopard gecko keepers. According to the law, ownership not only entails the keeping, breeding and transportation of Leopard geckos, but also the import of new stock into the country.

Recently, new legislation regarding the ownership of exotic, including potential invasive, animals has seen the light. Leopard geckos are not naturally found in South Africa and are considered ‘exotic’ or ‘alien’. Although they are not listed invasive, government is attempting to control the numbers of Leopard geckos in South Africa by means of permits.

Keeping permits for Leopard geckos in South Africa

In South Africa, non-invasive ‘exotic’ animals, including Leopard geckos, are regulated differently in each of our nine provinces. Some provinces require permits for owning a Leopard gecko.

For all practical purposes, Leopard geckos are allowed to be kept without a permit in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Keeping permits are required in Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Western Cape and North West provinces. The legislation is unclear about Limpopo province.

In most cases, permit application forms need to be accompanied with a risk assessment for the species in question. Permit applications are done through the Department of Environmental Affairs in the respective province.


  • Alien reptiles and amphibians in South Africa: Towards a pragmatic management strategy, 2008. Nicola J. van Wilgen, David M. Richardson and Ernst H.W. Baard.
About the author
Renier has a keen interest in the welfare of pet reptiles. He has been keeping and treating Leopard geckos for many years and has written various forms of literature on them and other fascinating reptiles.

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