Valentines Day is well and truly over as a new government campaign warns
that reptiles should be kept at a distance. The Health Protection Agency (HPA)
has launched a leaflet to inform of the risks of salmonella infections
associated with reptile-keeping:
The Animal Protection Agency (APA), which campaigns to end the trade in reptiles as pets, has greatly welcomed the initiative. The increasing number of cases of reptile-related salmonellosis (RRS), as reported by the HPA, reflects the growing trade in reptiles. Research shows that reptiles do not adapt to captivity and the stresses that result - although not obvious to the layperson - often result in their premature demise. The trade causes untold suffering to many thousands of animals.
Over the last year the APA has been working with local authorities to counter an upsurge in illegal reptile trading at markets up and down the country, where the animals are kept in appalling conditions. APA has also anecdotally observed that new reptile-related business are continually setting up - not only in the form of pet shops but also live reptile entertainment shows aimed at schools and childre's parties!
The new government leaflet warns that RRS can be lethal to babies and small children. Two infant deaths from RRS within the last ten years in the UK are tragic and stark reminders of how serious these risks are - not only to young children but also to pregnant woman, the elderly and those who are immuno-compromised.
Said Animal Protection Agency spokesperson, Elaine Toland:
"We hope the government campaign succeeds in driving the message home that there are considerable health risks involving in keeping reptiles. Our concern is that reptile retailers, who should be obliged to distribute this information, are very unlikely to do so. It is not uncommon for reptile traders to deny or play down these risks."
The Animal Protection Agency is currently working with other European organisations to preserve a long-term ban (implemented in 1976) on the keeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets Norway. The Norwegian ban, they say, represents a shining example to the rest of Europe.
Issued 26 February 2010