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Exotic pets - our concerns

We have concerns about the trade and keeping of exotic pets, which are increasing in popularity. 


Trends are often linked to social media, film and TV, like the demand for terrapins following the film ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’.


We are opposed to the trade in wild-caught animals for the exotic pet trade, as these animals are taken from the wild and often transported long distances.  


Specialist needs

Adult alligator rescued and re-homed by RSPCA - Photo copyright Andrew Forsyth/RSPCA

Caring for exotics can be challenging and expensive. They have the same needs as in the wild, which must be met in captivity by law under the Animal Welfare Act.


Impulse buying risks people not doing their homework. Animals may become aggressive, grow very large, live for a long time or require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold.


Unsuitable pets

We believe that some wild animals, such as primates, should not be kept in a household environment, because their needs are too difficult to meet in a home, or because they may become dangerous.


Escaped – or unwanted?

Exotic pets often end up in our care after people realise they're not easy to care for (or once the novelty wears off).


Others are rescued after they've escaped or been released on purpose. Some species can be difficult for us to rehome, due to lack of suitable homes or interest.
 

Two raccoon dogs © RSPCA

Non-native species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 may not survive in our countryside and are illegal to release, or to allow to escape.


These animals could be an invasive species risk to our native wildlife.


An example of exotic pets found roaming free were the raccoon dogs in Wales.


Help and Advice

Sugar glider in a cage at a pet shop - photo copyright Andrew Forsyth/RSPCA

Scientifically-based expert care information for exotics can be hard to find. Sellers may not give buyers accurate information and online sources can be unreliable.


A vet with knowledge of exotics is vital, but can be far away and expensive.


Our exotic pet page has information and basic care sheets, plus you can read our blog post - ‘Lizards in your living room’.