Crocodiles, Gila monsters, monkeys and more legally sold in British pet shops new World Animal Protection report shows

Crocodiles, Gila monsters, monkeys and more legally sold in British pet shops new World Animal Protection report shows

PR Newswire

LONDON, Dec. 17, 2020

LONDON, Dec. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Over a hundred thousand wild animals including crocodiles, monkeys, sugar gliders (small mammals) and Gila monsters (venomous lizards) are being legally sold in pet shops across the UK despite being unsuitable pets, according to a new report from global animal welfare charity, World Animal Protection.

The study used data obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to UK local authorities, on licences to sell animals as pets in the UK. It found nearly 2000 pet traders licensed by 283 different councils had permission to sell shockingly high numbers of wild (i.e., non-domesticated) species, otherwise known as 'exotic pets.'

Licenses indicated that the maximum numbers of exotic pets permitted for sale in the UK at any one time included at least 64,810 reptiles, 54,634 amphibians, 23,507 birds and 6,479 mammals. Some local authorities failed to provide licensing information, so these numbers under-represent the true scale of wild animals for sale at pet shops across the UK.

The license data also revealed the shocking diversity of wild animals for sale in pet shops, including dangerous wild animals, endangered species and species known to be highly susceptible to serious welfare problems in captivity. Whilst owners are required to obtain a license to keep dangerous wild animals, the vast majority of exotic pets can be kept without any sort of license at all. 

Some of the dangerous wild animals permitted for sale include:

Some wild animals permitted for sale that are particularly susceptible to serious welfare problems in captivity include:

The exotic pet trade involves enormous risks to animal welfare at every stage, from capture or breeding, to being sold, transported and kept in captivity. Captivity limits the natural behaviour of wild animals and places their mental and physical wellbeing at risk. Exotic pets often lack adequate shelter, nutrition, space to roam, and an appropriate environment to maintain their health. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to ban the keeping of primates as pets next year, but this will be the first species of exotic pet banned on welfare grounds.

Peter Kemple Hardy, World Animal Protection, Wildlife Campaign Manager said, "The scope and scale of wildlife for sale to the British public on our high streets is truly shocking. Wild animals have complex environmental, social and behavioural needs which cannot easily be met by pet owners. These animals do not belong in our homes. We know that exotic pet owners are often motivated by a love of animals, but the reality is that for a wild animal, even with the best intentions, a life in captivity becomes a life sentence."

Previous research by World Animal Protection found that the UK imported more than 3.4 million wild animals over a five-year period (2014-18) for commercial purposes, including the exotic pet trade. Imported wild animals originated from 90 countries around the world, including regions identified as emerging disease hot spots, highlighting how the global wildlife trade represents a significant risk to public health. 

World Animal Protection has called on G20 leaders to ban the global wildlife trade and urges consumers to never buy an exotic pet, and if they already own one, commit to not replacing them in the future.

Notes to editor

Table 1

Break down of maximum numbers of exotic pets permitted for sale in each region at any one time according to licence details supplied by local authorities. Some local authorities failed to provide licensing information, so these numbers under-represent the true scale of wild animals for sale at pet shops.

Region

Amphibian

Bird

Mammal

Reptile

Total

East Midlands

13177

1993

1196

7931

24297

East of England

2382

2027

797

4425

9631

North East

1009

620

293

2366

4288

North West

1485

1861

382

4279

8007

Scotland

975

999

248

1379

3601

South East

14728

4792

1215

24928

45663

South West

3393

3902

443

6375

14113

Wales

2251

1518

673

3317

7759

West Midlands

12972

2487

693

5543

21695

Yorkshire and The Humber

2262

3308

539

4267

10376

 

Table 2

Selection of less common exotic pets and where pet shops are licensed to sell them

Species

Where vendors are licensed to sell them

Chipmunk

 Babergh, Caerphilly, Coventry, Dacorum, Daventry, East Lindsey, East Suffolk, Enfield, Isle of Anglesey, Lancaster, Leeds city, Lewisham, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Selby, stoke on Trent, Stratford on Avon, Tamworth, Telford and Wrekin, Thanet, Walsall, Wirral, Wrexham, Herefordshire, Wiltshire

Sugar glider

Stoke on Trent, Welwyn Hatfield, Torbay, West Lothian, St Edmundsbury, Herefordshire, Bridgend, Cheshire West and Chester, Dacorum, Denbighshire, Forest of Dean, Isle of Wight, Leeds City, Mansfield

African pygmy hedgehogs

Leeds City, Monmouthshire, North Tyneside, Northampton, Taunton Dean, Stoke on Trent, Wakefield, Welwyn Hatfield, west Lothian, St Edmundsbury, Wychavon, Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, Leeds City, Barrow, Wiltshire, Worthing, Aberdeen City, Ashfield, Bridgend, Central Bedfordshire, Cheshire West and Chester, Dacorum, Darlington, Daventry, Denbighshire, Durham, Edinburgh, Epping Forest, Fife, Forest of Dean, Glasgow City

Marmosets

Babergh, Cheshire West and Chester, South Gloucestershire, Stoke on Trent

Primates

Durham, Thurrock

Caiman

Hyndburn, Isle of Wight, Stoke on Trent

Foxes

South Gloucestershire, Stoke on Trent, Blaby

Mongoose

Stoke on Trent

Monitor lizards

Tower Hamlets, Wirral, Aberdeen City

Tenrecs

Calderdale, Blaby, Forest of Dean, Isle of Wight, Mansfield

African civets

Forest of Dean, Stoke on Trent

Asian short-clawed otters

Forest of Dean

Coati Mundi

South Gloucestershire

Dwarf Caiman Crocodile

Stoke on Trent

Fossa

Stoke on Trent

Gila monsters

Fenland

Java sparrow

Wirral

Opossums

Mansfield, Medway

Polecats

Leeds City

Possums

Stoke on Trent, Isle of Wight

Raccoon dogs

South Gloucestershire

Ring-tailed lemurs

Forest of Dean

Tayra

Forest of Dean

West African large spotted Genets

Forest of Dean, Stoke on Trent

West African Dwarf Crocodiles

Neath Port Talbot

Meerkat

Stoke on Trent, Mansfield, Blaby

 

About World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection seeks to create a world where animal welfare matters, and animal cruelty has ended. Active in more than 50 countries, we work directly with animals and with the people and organisations that can ensure animals are treated with respect and compassion. We hold consultative status at the Council of Europe and collaborate with national governments and the United Nations.

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