New research by AAP shows flourishing trade in exotic pets in The Netherlands

witbuikegel
Four-toed hedgehog

Almere, 12 August 2019 - AAP Animal Advocacy and Protection has conducted a research about the Dutch trade in exotic pets through various channels such as Marktplaats, pet stores and exotic animal fairs for a period of 3 months. Despite the problems that are inherent in keeping most exotic pets, there appears to be a flourishing and uncontrolled trade in the Netherlands. An interesting result of the research is that we came across animal species that were not yet proven to be kept in the Netherlands in 2015. In addition, illegal primate species and invasive animal species were offered for sale. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is currently finalizing a new assessment method that will form the basis for drawing up and implementing a new positive list for mammals in the Netherlands. A list that lists all animal species that are allowed and suitable to be kept as pets. In the attached report "ALIVE AND KICKING - The exotic mammal trade in the Netherlands" you will read the results of this study that confirms the urgent need for a positive list in the Netherlands.

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Research setup

During 3 months we investigated the two online platforms, two pet stores and two Dutch fairs. In the Dutch pet trade we found a total of 55 exotic mammal species between February and May 2019.

The problem

Many of the animal species found are completely unsuitable as pets because of, among other things, serious welfare risks that they pose for both animals and humans. Exotic animals have complex needs in terms of care, diet and living space. In addition, certain species have a negative impact on local biodiversity if they are released or if they escape. Finally, some exotic animal species pose a risk of spreading diseases that are transmissible from animals to humans or because they can cause injury.

Poolvos
Arctic fox

Largest variety through online platforms

The largest variety of exotic mammals is offered via the online platform 'Marktplaats', with 39 of the 55 species found in the trade. A total of 14 different mammal species were offered for sale on Facebook. Of all the species from this study, 81% could be found on these two online channels. 17 different species of mammals were registered at the two fairs visited. The actual number of species for sale was probably higher because many animals were pre-ordered and were therefore not identifiable. Finally, the two pet stores included in the study offered a total of 12 species.

Conclusions

  • The exotic mammal trade in the Netherlands is flourishing, with 55 different species for sale in a period of just three months, ranging from a Djungarian hamster to a zebra.
  • We came across animal species that were not proven to be kept in the Netherlands in 2015, so the trade seems to be developing rapidly.
  • There is also trade in prohibited species, such as primates (monkeys).
  • The internet appears to be the most important trade channel for exotic pets.
  • Many of the exotic pets end up in shelters. Eight species from the top ten most frequently offered animals from Dutch private owners to AAP are among the 55 species found on the market.
  • According to traders, the research period is not the most popular period for trade in exotic mammals. Therefore, the number of traded exotic mammal species on an annual basis is probably higher.
  • Pet information to customers was better organized in pet stores than through online channels and fairs.

Recommendations

  1. The trade in exotic mammals is flourishing in the Netherlands and even shows growth potential. The negative impact of this trade on animals, people and the environment is likely to continue to increase unless preventive legislation is implemented and properly enforced. Shelters such as AAP will never be able to provide shelter for all discarded and dumped animals resulting from this trade.
  2. A positive list of permitted species as pets based on their suitability as such is necessary. It is the most comprehensive, effective, concise, transparent, enforceable and economically viable way to trade and keep exotic animals as pets.
  3. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality is currently finalizing a new assessment methodology that will form the basis for drawing up and implementing a new positive list for mammals in the Netherlands. The results of this study clearly underscore the urgent need for this instrument in the Netherlands.