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Give Snakes Some Space

Give Snakes Some Space

An ad hoc group of 16 independent biologists and veterinarians have stood up for snake welfare and made an urgent demand to Defra (theDepartment for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs)to reinstate a rule allowingcaptive snakesat least enough space to stretch out fully.


The new AnimalWelfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) Regulations2018, which come into force on October 1st and cover sales of pet snakes, were compiled over a number of years with input from multi-sector stakeholders who agreed that snakes should be kept in enclosures at least as long as their body length - bringing their care in line with the scientifically accepted minimum. This provision had been included in the draft guidelines for nearly a year, and yet Defra removed this section literally hours before publication - on the basis of one protest from a veterinary clinic closely associated with the pet trade. This action followed somewhat ‘pally' correspondence between Defra officials and the pet business correspondent who provided minimal, unscientific and gravely flawed opinion, which Defra wrongly accepted without proper consultation or any verification.


The ad hoc scientific group includes the world's leading veterinary and biological experts on snake science and welfare who argue that the scientific evidence significantly contradicts the comments provided to Defra by pet business promoters and that for their health and welfare snakes need to be provided with enclosures at least as long as they are.


Says Elaine Toland, biologist and Director of the Animal Protection Agency:

"Despite there being no formal requirement to favour business over animal welfare in this context, Defra's so-called ‘Animal Welfare' division seems to be trying to swindle snakes out of the space they need - just to keep the pet industry happy."


:PETA 1.JPGSnakes often get a raw deal in society and are generally misunderstood, mis-sold and mistreated by the pet industry. For example, snakes are commonly kept (stored) by breeders and hobbyists in minimalistic ‘racks' (plastic drawers) with keepers stating that if they eat and breed well they must be "thriving".Their ‘need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns' as stipulated in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the many recognised physical and stress-related diseases associated with keeping snakes in such enclosures are conveniently side-stepped forthe sake of convenient stocking.


No one would accept cats or dogs being confined in enclosures just large enough to stretch out in - and yet the UK government is trying to deny snakes even this basic need. As the newly formed ad hoc scientific group states, it is "scientifically and morally unacceptable that snakes should remain the only animal group prevented by flawed evidence and policy from fully stretching their bodies in captivity". 


  • For more information, please contact Elaine Toland on 01273 674253 or out of hours on 07986 535024.