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Exotic pet concerns

We have concerns about the trade and keeping of exotic pets. Trends are often linked to social media, film and TV, as was the case with the demand for terrapins following the film 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'.

We're opposed to wild-caught animals being part of the exotic pet trade, as these animals are taken from the wild and often transported long distances. Here's more on why we're concerned about exotic pets.

close-up of baby corn snake © Alif Abdulrahman

Exotics have specialist needs

Caring for exotic pets can be challenging and expensive. They have the same needs as they do in the wild, and an exotic animal owner is legally obliged to meet these needs in captivity.

Impulse buying often means people haven't done their homework about the reality of what they're taking on with an exotic pet. Animals may become aggressive, grow very large, live for a long time or require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold.

Some exotic animals aren't suitable as pets

We believe that some wild animals, such as primates, shouldn't 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

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

Non-native species may not survive in our countryside and are illegal to release or to allow to escape. These animals could also be an invasive species risk to our native wildlife.

Help and advice for exotic petes

It can be hard to find expert, science-based care information for exotic pets. Sellers may not give buyers accurate information, and online sources can be unreliable. A vet with knowledge of exotics is vital, but may be far away from you and expensive.

Read our exotic pet page for more information about caring for a specific species of an exotic pet.

We've also published a report, with the Born Free Foundation, calling for an urgent review of the current legislation on exotic pets. Download our report The Exotic Pet-demic: UK's ticking time bomb exposed or read our summary briefing.

Find out more