Below is the text of a letter sent by the RSPCA to every Local Authority (LA) in the country regarding its crusade against reptile keeping.
It is very important to recognise that this campaign is not simply to stop imports of reptiles into the European Union (EU) but also to restrict the keeping of reptiles. The full report 'Mortality and morbidity in private husbandry of reptiles' specifically claims that category 1 species should not be kept by private keepers.
Local authorities are responsible for issuing Pet Shop Licenses in the UK.
JNCC advise the government scientific advisers.
What follows are just a few examples from category 1, which in the opinion of the RSPCA report are not to be kept by private keepers:
Leopard tortoise Geochelone pardalis
Veiled chameleon Chamaelo calyptratus
Panther chameleon Furcifer pardalis
Bosc monitor Varanus exanthematicus
Common boa Boa constrictor
Rainbow boa Epicates cenchria
Carpet python Morelia spilota
Note that all of these species have been kept successfully and bred in captivity (including the two chameleon species listed) by reptile keepers. We have already noted elsewhere the extreme contempt of German scientists for this report.
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Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Patrons HM The Queen, HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Vice Patron His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury
Registered charity no. 219099
March 11, 2002
Far from home: mortality and morbidity rates in reptiles
I have enclosed a summary of a new report*, commissioned by the RSPCA, into the welfare problems experienced by reptiles kept in captivity.
You will be aware that the RSPCA has well publicised concerns about the welfare of captive reptiles and other exotic species. The new report has highlighted four categories of particularly vulnerable reptiles which are either not suitable for private owners and others which should only be kept by qualified keepers. The RSPCA is officially launching the report on March 13 and will use it to campaign within the European Union to have the most vulnerable reptiles banned from import in to the EU. The Society will also be seeking import bans and tighter restrictions on import of other reptile species.
I have sent you a copy of the report because as the licensing authority for any reptile pet shops which may exist in your area, you will be interested in some of the data contained within the summary and within the main report, Mortality and morbidity in private husbandry of reptiles, which is available from the RSPCA's Wildlife department at the address given below.
In the light of the data contained within the report you may therefore wish to consider whether or not the local authority should restrict the sale of vulnerable reptiles on welfare grounds. Category 1 reptiles are considered by the RSPCA as not suitable for private husbandry and therefore believes that pet shops should be strongly discouraged from selling them on welfare grounds. The Society would also strongly urge all local authorities to ensure that pet shop owners selling reptiles are suitably experienced and that appropriate care information is provided to each new owner.
As a local authority you may also wish to express your support for the RSPCA's campaign or write with your own concerns, as a statutory licensing authority, to the Joint Nature Conservancy Council. The JNCC is the scientific advisory body which advises the Government on the UK's CITES policy. They can be written to at: Monkstone House, City Road, Peterborough, PE1 1JY. We would be very pleased to receive copies of any responses you receive.
If you would like further information or copies of the report please contact: Sarah Kennell, Information Officer, Wildlife Department at the address below or e mail: skennell(@rspca.org.uk.
Joceline Tran, Local Government Campaigns Officer
* Altherr S and Freyer D. Mortality and morbidity in private husbandry of reptiles, 2001.
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