ARCHIVE: Wildlife and plants: Reptiles and amphibians
Reptiles and amphibians
Under international and UK law both indigenous and non-indigenous species of reptiles and amphibians are protected from being moved between countries or harmed.
There are specific legal requirements for dangerous wild animals e.g. snakes and also for protecting UK species through conservation and best practice. The main issues concerning reptiles and amphibians are covered in the sections below:
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
- Farm habitats for reptiles and amphibians
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
Under CITES, certain species are protected from movement across borders or harm e.g. species of turtles, lizards, chameleons, snakes and frogs.
CITES aims to protect certain plants and animals by regulating and monitoring their international trade to prevent it reaching unsustainable levels. The UK Government strongly supports CITES as an essential instrument for helping to safeguard globally threatened species.
Defra is the UK CITES’ Management Authority and is responsible for ensuring that the Convention is properly implemented in the UK, which includes enforcement and issuing permits and certificates for the import and export, or commercial use of, CITES specimens.
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 was originally introduced in response to public concern about the keeping of dangerous pets, especially big cats.
It aims to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public and safeguard the welfare of the animals.
A list of the species covered under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act can be seen in the Wildlife section of the Defra website.
Licences are required for any animal which appears on a schedule to the Act. These are issued by the relevant local authority, and will only be granted when the authority is satisfied that it would not be contrary to public interest on the grounds of safety or nuisance; that the applicant is a suitable person; and the animal's accommodation is adequate and secure.
Where the local authority grant a licence it will impose conditions on the licence covering issues such as:
- the animal be kept only by a person or persons named on the licence
- restrictions on the movement of the animal from the premises as specified on the licence
- the licence holder has a current insurance policy which ensures both licence holders and others against any liability caused by the animal
The Act does not apply to any dangerous wild animal kept in a zoo, circus, pet shop or registered scientific establishment. These premises are registered under their own specific legislation, see information on Zoos.
Specific advice on species including newts, toads and frogs can be obtained from the Farm Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG).
Defra Global Wildlife Division on 0117 372 8209
Page last modified: 21 November 2007
Page published: 1 July 2006