Bearded dragon legislation in South Africa

Legal issues surrounding the ownership of these lizards in South Africa are frequent concerns of new and aspiring Bearded dragon keepers. According to the law, ownership not only entails the keeping, breeding, and transportation of Bearded dragons, but also the import of new stock into the country.

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

Keeping permits for Bearded dragons in South Africa

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

For all practical purposes, Bearded dragons 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 by a risk assessment for the species in question. Permit applications are done through the Department of Environmental Affairs in the respective province.

Do you need a permit for a bearded dragon in South Africa?

Yes, you have to get a permit. You can either send an e-mailed application to, or you can fill out an online application through the CapeNature Permit Portal at Visit this page for more details:

In Summary

Bearded dragons are reptiles native to Australia and New Zealand. They are popular pets because of their docile nature and ability to live in captivity. However, they require special care when kept outside of their natural habitat. In this article, we tried to explain what permits are required for keeping bearded dragons in South Africa.