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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Norway says 'no way' to pet reptile and amphibian keeping

International Animal Rescue is one of a number of wildlife protection organisations across Europe applauding a decision by the Norwegian government to retain a 37-year old ban on reptile and amphibian keeping and trading, and reject a proposal from wildlife dealers and exotic animal keepers to open trade in a limited number of species. European NGOs and wildlife professionals have supported the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance in their campaign, over several years, to keep the ban.

 The announcement by the Norwegian Minister of Agriculture and Food was greatly welcomed by campaigners who have argued that lifting the ban would pose a threat to people and wildlife. A recent scientific study showed that at least 75% of reptiles die within one year in the home even though they have potential life spans ranging from 8-120 years, depending on species. As well as causing suffering to captive animals, the pet amphibian trade has been established as a route for the spread of pandemic wildlife disease that is threatening amphibian populations around the globe. Also, there are over 40 human diseases associated with reptiles and amphibians, which are of growing concern to public health experts.

In 2009, several organisations commissioned an independent scientific assessment of the proposal to open trade, and the 65-page report concluded that under scientific evidence-based criteria, there are no amphibians or reptiles that make ‘suitable’ pets. Those campaigning to lift the ban argued that the illegal trade and keeping of these animals would be better addressed if the trade were legalised and monitored. That claim has been rejected.

Says Anton Krag, biologist and CEO of the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance:

“We are delighted that our government has decided to give priority to animal welfare. The cruel smuggling and illegal keeping of wild animals should never be rewarded by legalising trade in these fascinating species.”

Says Clifford Warwick, independent scientist and report author:

“The Norwegian Government’s decision is fully in concert with the best, and rapidly increasing, scientific evidence which notes that the trade in reptiles and amphibians for pets involves serious detrimental threats and effects for global species and environmental conservation, indigenous wildlife, public health and animal welfare. The Minister’s finding emphasises the value of investment in prevention over ‘cure’, which ought to be the objectively inescapable conclusion for any government faced with similar decision-making.”