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Posted by Chris Newman on April 11, 2002 at 13:38:02:


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Reptilian magazine exposes the Royal Society for the Preventions of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) campaign to suppress reptile keeping thought the European Union (EU). Contents to the report "Morbidity and Mortality in Private Husbandry of Reptiles" can be reviewed at

Chris Newman
Editor Reptilian magazine
Tel: 023 8044 0999
Fax: 023 8044 0666

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The RSPCA have funded a massive 122 page report written by a German organisation called Pro Wildlife ( to try and drastically reduce reptile keeping throughout the EU. It appears the RSPCA has largely tried to keep this report from the public and clearly does not want it open to challenge from individuals or organisations who disagree with its views.

So what is so sensitive about this report? It basically deals with those species listed in Annex B of EU CITES regulations and, if EU governments implement the recommendations could effectively lead to an overall ban in importation and trade in all such species and, further, to BAN THE KEEPING by private individuals of these species. As the governments involved will essentially be considering the document unchallenged, we have to view this as a very real threat and we need to ensure that both sides of the argument receive a fair hearing.

It is well known and documented that the RSPCA ( opposes the keeping of animals in captivity and this report is used to uphold that viewpoint, suggesting that reptiles need conditions which cannot be recreated in captivity. It groups reptiles into four categories as follows:

Category 1: species not suitable for private husbandry
Category 2: species suitable only for qualified keepers
Category 3: species conditionally suitable for knowledgeable private individuals
Category 4: data deficient

Category 1 is species that should only be kept by identified specialists who work in scientific institutions that are registered by CITES. These species are, according to the report, known to have a considerably shortened lifespan in private husbandry. Almost all monitors, some pythons and boas, including common boas (Boa constrictor), rainbow boas (Epicrates cenchria) and, astoundingly, carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) are included in this category. These species are considered either/or too difficult to keep, too large or too dangerous for private individuals to keep. Also in the category not to be kept by private keepers are veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus) and panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis). Do not underestimate the danger this report poses to the hobbyist - this report is not just recommending an import ban, or even an EU trade ban - IT IS RECOMMENDING THAT THERE IS A TOTAL BAN ON PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS KEEPING ANY OF THESE ANIMALS.

The majority of the remaining animals fall into category 2 and could, thus, only be kept be "a demonstrably qualified keeper, who must be trained, approved and registered by the appropriate authority". Who this authority should be is not suggested but I am sure UK keepers will not be hard-pushed to think of the leading candidate who will be pushing himself to the fore if this recommendation is adopted. This scenario simply does not bear thinking about. Incidentally, some of the day geckos (Phelsuma spp.) fall into this category, as do Uromastyx lizards.

So, what animals can the "knowledgeable private individual" look forward to keeping. Category 3 includes a few of the day gecko species (Phelsuma) (how these differ from their Category 2 brethren is unclear), spotted/ Children’s pythons (Antaresia spp.) species and Bismarck’s python (Bothrochillus boa). That's it… tortoises are suitable for private keepers, no terrapins, no monitors, essentially no boas and pythons, very few lizards (certainly no large ones), no venomous snakes or crocodilians.


Use our campaigns section
to contact your MP and voice your opinions and make sure you read the full report and let the RSPCA know that you oppose these recommendations. Unfortunately we have been prevented from allowing free access to this report but it is available from the RSPCA for a fee. If you wish to order a copy you need to contact the RSPCA Wildlife department. Copies of this 122-page publication can be obtained from the Wildlife Department, RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS, on receipt of a cheque made payable to 'RSPCA' for £10-00 (including p&p). The publication 'Far from home' - a summary of the larger report - can be obtained free-of-charge on receipt of an A4 sized sae. E-mail

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Reptilian magazine, Europe’s premier herp magazine
Editor: Chris Newman
Reptilian web site:

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