Reptiles suffer from lack of regulation in pet trade

Chameleons for sale in a market in Marrakesh, Morocco. Credit: Joshua Rapp Learn

Data from trade databases have revealed that thousands of reptiles are being sold and purchased as part of the international pet trade, but few are subject to international regulation. In fact, only 9% of the more than 11,000 known reptile species are subjected to international trade regulation. Reptile pets outnumbered dogs in 2008 in the U.K., according to the British Federation for Herpetologists. The recent study showed that 90% of traded species and half of traded individuals are taken from the wild rather than raised in captivity. They also found many of the traded species are endangered or range-restricted in their native environments. “If we fail to mitigate the impacts of unregulated, but legal trade, small-ranged and endemic species may be the next victims of the ongoing biodiversity crisis,” said Alice Hughes, a researcher with the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden in China that conducted the study along with colleagues at the Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand.

Read the study at Nature Communications.