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Our Responsibilities Towards The Exotic Animal Hobby


| Introduction | Basic Knowledge | Responsibilities | Related Topics |
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All over the world (incl. South Africa), the exotic animal (snakes, lizards, amphibians, birds, fish, primates and arachnids) keeping hobby has expanded quite fast, especially during the last few years. It is nice to own a new, cool, extraordinary pet, but what responsibilities goes with this? Apart from the challenges of keeping your new pet alive, healthy and thriving, what other responsibilities should you be aware of? This page will hopefully point out and explain all other responsibilities new, and some old exotic "hobbiers" should be aware of.

These hobbies, especially the herptile (reptiles and amphibian) and arachnid sections is currently enjoying a lot of attention from the media with regard to nature conservation and animal cruelty. Although there has been no impact studies done that I'm aware of (please let me know if you know of any), the possible effects or impact of exotic animals on our own fauna and flora is obvious. Historical and behavioural data was collected and interpreted and a long list of herptile and tarantula species was classified according to their "invasiveness" in our country. This have immediate threats on our own animal life.

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Basic Knowledge:

As exotic animal keeper you should at least be aware of the following:

  • Correct husbandry
  • Import & export legislation
  • Potential invasiveness & the after effects
  • The feeding of live prey
  • Zoonoses

It is once again obvious that a keeper should be informed on what is expected as an owner of a new exotic pet. Even before you go out and buy a new animal you should start to do research on its suspected behaviour, husbandry needs, life span and so on of that animal. Ignorance is no excuse for passing a pet on to someone else or letting it die because you were not aware of its responsibilities. Sometimes these pets escape or are simply let loose in the wild! The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has recently launched various advertisements on national television on the dangers of and cruelty towards reptiles. I think they had a point, although they had and still has thee wrong approach in solving this problem.

I get so many emails asking how to import exotic herptiles into our country. As far as I'm concerned, this is illegal! Apparently there are some people who does some importing. Weather they do it legal or not is unknown. What is more is that in most parts of South Africa you are not allowed to own or transport indigenous reptiles, or any indigenous animal for that matter, without a keeping and transport permit. These permits are only issued by Nature Conservation under special conditions. See the Herptile Permits In South Africa section for more detail.

Although there are no official impact studies done, the invasiveness of most exotic animals in our country cannot be denied. Do not go and let your American Corn snake loose in the wild thinking he will be better off. Also try to be more cautious when housing any animal and put some escape proof measures into your keeping facilities. People catching nice red and black snakes in their Pretoria garden taking it to the zoo or Nature Conservation for identifying does not put our hobby into a good light.

The NSPCA has quite recently discovered that it is illegal according to the Animal Protection Act to feed live food such as rodents (mainly rats and mice), lagomorphs (guinea pigs, rabbits and hares) and chickens to other animals. Luckily insects are excluded. In the past I have written an article on my website on this and the humane euthanasia of these prey animals, but I was forced by influential bodies to remove it. Yes, we are not allowed to feed live prey, but yes, no-one wants to give us guidelines on how to humanely kill these animals. You are welcome to draw your own conclusions from this together with the negative add campaigns on out hobby, but the fact of the matter is that you can be prosecuted by law if you are caught feeding live prey. Please don not go out and publically feed live rabbits to your Burmese python for every woman and child to see.

See the Zoonoses section for more info on the topic.

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  • Education
  • Promotion and conservation of our own species

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"If you think I should add more information to this section or think that something is incorrect, contact me and let me know. I would love to hear your ideas or methods you might use that is different than ours."

Last updated 11 May 2007 by Renier Delport

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"Always remember only to buy healthy animals from reputable pet shops and breeders. Make sure to buy animals that are captive bred in your own country and that it is not illegally imported or caught from the wild."

Related Topics:

General Animal Bio-security & Quarantine
About Herptile Permits In South Africa

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| Introduction | Basic Knowledge | Responsibilities | Related Topics |
| Email This Page |


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