Animal health concerns prompt review of exotic pet import rules

Potential threats to animal health and welfare have prompted a Scottish government review of the rules covering the importation of exotic animals as pets.

Following discussions with the animal welfare charity OneKind, it was revealed that currently more than 1000 species of mammals, birds, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians are currently involved in the UK pet trade.

Several cases of exotic animal abandonment were also recorded, including bearded dragons which were discovered in supermarket toilets, and a snake that found its way into an office in Clydebank.

Examples reported by the Scottish SPCA last year included a Chinese water dragon, five corn snakes, four terrapins, and a six-foot boa constrictor among pets that were apparently abandoned or lost.

“There is an increasing desire across Europe to keep exotic pets, posing potential threats to animal health and welfare, human health and our native species,” said Scottish farm minister, Richard Lochhead (pictured).

While accepting that current legislation offers some protection concerning the trade, Mr Lochhead added: “I feel that perhaps more can be done to protect not only the exotic animals that are being brought into the country, but our own native animals and environment.

“That is why I am publicly committing to a review of the trade and importation of exotic animals as pets in Scotland and I will be asking for the thoughts and advice of animal welfare groups, veterinary organisations and biologists across the country in due course.”

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