The Scottish Government announced in 2015 that it intended to review the trade and importation of exotic pets, citing potential threats to animal health and welfare, human health and native species in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2015). This followed the raising of concerns by a number of animal welfare groups, including OneKind, Scottish SPCA, Blue Cross, Born Free Foundation and others at UK and European level, about the welfare of essentially non-domesticated animals being kept in domestic households, and associated issues such as breeding, capture, rearing and trade.
The European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals discourages the keeping of specimens of wild fauna as pets and requires that “pet animals shall be provided with accommodation, care and attention taking into account the ethological needs of the animal in accordance with its species and breed, and that an animal which cannot adapt itself to captivity in spite of these conditions being met, shall not be kept as a pet animal.” In 1995, the parties to the Convention, which is an instrument of the Council of Europe, adopted a specific resolution on regulating the keeping of wild animals as pets.
As part of its year 1 work plan, SAWC formed a work group to look into issues surrounding the keeping of “exotic pets” in Scotland and to consider whether any further regulation is required.
SAWC is aware that other domestic legislatures, particularly in the EU, have sought to regulate the keeping of exotic pets using legislation, such as the positive list system, and that there are also calls for pan-European legislation (Eurogroup for Animals, 2020). SAWC also appreciates that private keepers of exotic pets and industry representatives have concerns about the potential impact of legislative change on their hobby and business interests and takes these concerns into account.
This document is based on a report presented by the work group to the SAWC plenary meeting on 15 June 2021. It is being published in line with the timetable for SAWC’s year 1 work plan and to share the submitted stakeholder views while they are still up to date. The document is for information only at this stage and should not be taken as representing the final views of SAWC.