A new article in Vet Record, a UK publication, is recommending that laws on keeping snakes as pets be tightened.

An investigation found that purchasing snakes through pet stores in England is a relatively easy process. Anyone can purchase rattlesnakes, vipers and cobras through stores by easy licensing arrangements.

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Snakes are then stuck in homes when they are made to be pets. Owners often lack the expertise to house and manage the animals. Snakes can also easily escape and then are left in the wild.

The RSPCA, an animal welfare charity, is asking for the licensing requirements for sellers and owners to be changed. The current Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA Act) allows sales of venomous snakes without licenses and that snakes can be brought in from other countries in the European Union.

Peter Kettlewell, President of the British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS), told Vet Record, ” Pet shops are currently excluded from the requirements of the DWA Act and are therefore able to keep dangerous species without a DWA licence. BVZS strongly believes the legislation should be changed to prevent this.”

Kettlewell is also concerned with animal welfare once the creatures are taken home, he said, “The husbandry of reptiles is challenging, and even commonly kept reptile species kept in people’s homes are given inadequate care—as shown by the high proportion of reptiles presented to veterinary practices with husbandry-related diseases. Providing good husbandry would be made more difficult in the case of venomous animals due to the challenges in handling and managing them safely.”

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Kettlewell’s recommendation is that selling should be restricted and regulated more heavily for the safety of animals and snakes alike.

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