The Amphibian Research Centre > ARC > Licensing and legal matters

Licensing and legal matters

Regarding information presented here

To the best of our knowledge, the legal information presented here was correct at the time of writing. However, as rules and regulations may change without us being notified, any facts stated here should be read as a guide only. If in doubt, please contact the appropriate legislating body - generally the governmental department responsible for wildlife in your state.

In most cases, links are provided to forms and information held on government servers which will be updated as regulations change and therefore can be regarded as the most up-to-date material available. As these documents are maintained by the government and are not held on the server, please let us know if these files are moved and the links are broken.

Victorian licences and protection

All frogs, tadpoles, and spawn are protected in Victoria. The collection of frogs from the wild or the release of frogs to the wild is prohibited. The release of frogs to your backyard or the raising of tadpoles for the purpose of release is also illegal. It is also necessary to obtain a licence before keeping most of the species of frogs available in captivity.

If you would like any information regarding the current regulations in Victoria, the responsible party is the Licensing Unit of the Department of Sustainability and Environment (formerly the Department of Natural Resources and Environment). There are many forms available online to apply for a wildlife permit. Below is a brief guide that should at least help you get the correct application.

For individuals, the form to get is the Private Wildlife Licence Application. Included with the application is all the general information you need including pricing and the list of species which require licences (and what level of licence). This important information is available nowhere else on the DSE website so it is notoriously difficult to locate.

When using the ARC tadpole kits, government and catholic schools (including pre-schools) under the jurisdiction of Michael White or Peter Annett respectively do not need to apply for a permit - they can simply print out and display the authorisation form (Authorisation for government/catholic schools).

The Application for a Scientific Permit to Keep Frogs - School seems specially designed for programs such as the ARC tadpole kits whereby the school obtains tadpoles from a licensed dealer (such as the ARC) and then returns the adult frogs to the dealer when metamorphosis is complete. However, as the authorisation forms (mentioned above) cover government and catholic schools, this application is only required by schools who do not fit those descriptions. Contact Sue Hadden, in charge of licensing within the Department of Sustainability & Environment, for more information.

Australian Capital Territory licences and protection

All adult frogs in the ACT require a permit.

However, there are 3 species of frogs that do not require a permit when kept as tadpoles or in juvenile forms. The exempt species are: Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerili); Striped Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes peroni); and Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis).

For full information regarding which permit is required and the costs, consult the Environment ACT website's licensing section.

New South Wales licences and protection

All frogs (and tadpoles) are protected in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, and it is against the law to take them from the wild to keep as pets. You can get a licence from the NPWS to keep frogs, but you must obtain the frogs from a licensed breeder or society. You can only keep frogs that have either been bred in captivity or for other reasons cannot be released back into the wild.

For educational purposes, schools in NSW have been licensed to enable children and their teachers to collect and keep a maximum of 20 tadpoles to watch them grow and transform into froglets. Tadpoles must never be collected from national parks or other reserves. Once tadpoles have transformed into froglets, they must be released back in the location where they were collected.

Commercial trade in frogs is prohibited in NSW. If you purchase an animal from an interstate dealers, or from anyone else in another state, you must already hold a NSW amphibian keeper's licence and you must obtain an interstate import licence from the NPWS before you can legally bring it into NSW.

You can find this information easily on the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife site where the laws are fully explained and application forms are available.

Northern Territory licences and protection

The Northern Territory regulations state that "all animals that are indigenous to Australia are classed as protected wildlife and a permit is required to keep these animals in the NT".

However, amphibians feature on the "Exempt Species List". Instead, "common frogs" of the Northern Territory may be kept as pets. You will need a permit if you wish to trade in frogs and you will need a permit for other species that are not considered "common" in the NT.

All animals that are being sent into or out of the state require a import/export permit from the Northern Territory. A permit to keep wildlife is required to enable people to legally possess wildlife in captivity within the Northern Territory (except exempt species) - in order to acquire a permit to keep wildlife you must first purchase the animal from a lawful source.

Queensland licences and protection

The Queensland governmental departments responsible for frogs are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). It is difficult to locate the relevant laws either online or by telephoning the agencies.

To the best of my knowledge, these are the important regulations (as at March 2005):

  • All frog indigenous to Australia are protected wildlife and cannot be taken from the wild in any form (adult, juvenile, larva or egg) without a permit.
  • The exception to the above is that a person may take and keep up to eight adult frogs of up to four species but no more than two frogs of any one species "for personal enjoyment". The "taking" (catching) must be done on the person’s own property and the frogs be kept on that property. The frogs can’t be displayed and should there be progeny, the metamorphs must be released at the point of capture within 7 days of metamorphosis.
  • Frogs from outside Queensland must not be moved into the state without a permit.

The application for the relevant permit is available online but you may need to make a phone call to discover the exact cost. (It is around $50.)

South Australian licences and protection

Only two species of frogs, namely the Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis) and the Smooth Frog (Geocrinia laevis), are protected in South Australia. A "permit to take" is required to collect these species from the wild.

All other frog species remain unprotected. A permit is not required to keep or sell these species. No permit is required to take them from the wild in South Australia, however they can't be collected in National Parks, reserves or on private property without consent.

If frogs are imported from another State or Territory they must have been legally acquired in that State or Territory. Get an export permit from the corresponding State or Territory wildlife Agency prior to consignment.

For more information, visit the SA Wildlife Permit website or call the Fauna Permit Section of National Parks & Wildlife in South Australia on (08) 8124 4700.

Tasmanian licences and protection

In Tasmania, the relevant body for enquiries about keeping wildlife is the Department of Primary Industries and Water.

To keep most species of frogs you must apply for a permit and agree to abide by the code of practice for herpetology. The code is presented with the permit application and is available on the Department's website.

Without a permit, you may collect and keep in captivity: frog eggs; tadpoles; up to six specimens of the common froglet (Crinia signifera); and up to six specimens of the southern brown tree frog (Litoria ewingi). A tadpole becomes a frog when its tail is absorbed.

Western Australian licences and protection

There are no species of amphibians exempt from licence requirements in Western Australia. The taking of amphibians from the wild for any purpose, except under a taker's licence, is illegal, and any people attempting to illegally keep these animals will be prosecuted.

The Department of Conservation and Land Management issues licences. There are four species for which keeper's licences may be issued: Litoria caerulea (Green Tree Frog; category 2), Litoria moorei (Motorbike Frog; category 2), Litoria splendida (Magnificent Tree Frog; category 3), and Heleioporus albopunctatus (Western Spotted Frog; category 4). The lower category frogs are generally easier to care for, and certainly cheaper to obtain a licence for.

For more information, visit CALM's Naturebase website. Application forms for licences, including the keeper's licence, are available at that site.

It is illegal to release captive animals into the wild. By releasing unwanted captive animals, even those that appear perfectly healthy, there is a very real danger of introducing exotic diseases or parasites into wild populations. Instead, they should be sold (or given) to a licensed dealer. Perth Zoo asks that you not contact them, as they are not able to take such animals.

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