from Sunday Herald, 15 February 2015
The keeping of exotic pets like snakes, lizards, crocodiles, monkeys and meerkats could be restricted in the wake of a major review of the international pet trade to be launched by the Scottish Government.
The Environment Minister, Richard Lochhead MSP, is announcing the review today (Sunday) after animal welfare groups highlighted the poor conditions in which such pets can be bred and kept - and the health and environmental risks they pose.
More than 1,000 species of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles, plus hundreds of types of fish, are now traded as pets. The trend for keeping ever-more bizarre animals at home has been boosted by an explosion of online sellers, and by media-inspired fads.
Raccoons, possums, iguanas, chameleons, pythons, boas, pygmy hedgehogs, turtles and many others are on sale on the internet. In Scotland, a series of unusual animals have recently been found abandoned by their owners, including bearded dragons, a Chinese water dragon, corn snakes, terrapins and a six-foot boa constrictor.
Animal campaigners want to limit the number of species that can be kept as pets by introducing a “positive list”, as has been done in Belgium and the Netherlands. But this is fiercely opposed by exotic pet traders, who’ve launched a ‘hands off my hobby’ counter-campaign.