Welfare of exotic pets - evidence: scoping review

Scoping review conducted by Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) on the evidence of the welfare of exotic pets in Scotland.


This review was produced following an interim report by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission (SAWC) and aims to identify and assemble any documented evidence of measured welfare harms that have been published in the scientific literature for key species identified by SAWC at any stage of their life (from breeding to ownership). Contributing factors towards the welfare of non-traditional pets are described in the “Pet suitability framework” (Koene et al., 2016). These are based on the animals’ needs and behaviour in the wild and the relative difficulty of providing for their welfare needs in a domestic setting. Where positive lists exist for exotic pets (e.g., Belgium), the assessment criteria require that the species: "must be easy to keep in terms of its basic physiological, ethological, and ecological needs; must not present an overt risk of becoming invasive in the natural environment; must not pose a disproportionate risk to human health; must have reliable husbandry guidance available" (Toland et al., 2020).

This review presents the evidence for animal welfare issues associated with captivity, and in particular the attributes which make each animal more or less “easy to keep” and the availability of reliable information on their keeping. This information can be interpreted in the context of the other ethical issues of pet ownership to assess their suitability for keeping in Scotland. Each section is summarised at the taxonomic level of “Order”, within which there is a focus on the species identified a priori by SAWC.


Email: SAWC.Secretariat@gov.scot

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