Private ownership: Positive List

What is a Positive List?

A Positive List is a list of animal species that are suitable and allowed to be kept as pets.. Animals not on that list are automatically not allowed to be kept, or only allowed under very specific conditions or by means of an exemption.. The Positive List is an easily enforceable, precautionary in nature, instrument to prevent most of the unwanted consequences of exotic pet ownership and trade.

The issue

There are more than 200 million pets in Europe, including  mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians. However, many species, especially exotic animals, are unsuited to a life in captivity. This may result in severe animal welfare problems, and can also be detrimental to the environment and present a danger to the health of people and other animals. Therefore, the impacts of keeping exotic pets can have high costs across many sectors.

AAP is confronted on a daily basis with the problems that stem from this trade. Owners may no longer want their pet because it was an unsuitable match from an impulsive and poorly-informed purchase. And this is the direct consequence of absent or inadequate laws and regulations, which cause a situation in which the demand for rescue is significantly higher than the actual capacity of rescue facilities. From 2009 until the present (2019) animal rescue requests have tripled.

Cervello uit Spanje

The solution: Positive Lists

There are several ways to regulate the keeping and sale of exotic pets in Europe, but a Positive List is the most effective, concise, transparent, enforceable and economically feasible way. Especially when considering the issues of invasiveness and human and animal health and risks, the open internal market makes it crucial to achieve Positive Lists in a significant number of EU countries.

AAP and Eurogroup for Animals, in collaboration with local partners, are behind the ‘Think Positive! Campaign’, which advocates for Positive lists throughout Europe. We inform policymakers and the public about the need for and advantages of a Positive List, and offer practical solutions and advice on its design and implementation.

There are different, complementary criteria that should be taken into consideration when designing a comprehensive Positive List, such as:

  • Welfare and health of the animal
  • Risk of invasiveness and other damage in case of escape or release
  • Danger to public health and safety
  • Risks to species’ conservation
  • Costs

The Positive List has been declared by the European Court of Justice (Andibel ruling) as a legally valid means to regulate the exotic pet trade, as long as it is done according to objective, non-discriminatory criteria.

So far three EU Member States, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, have formally introduced Positive Lists, with many others at different stages of the legislative process towards that end goal. The map below gives more information on the state of affairs per country. 


Progress towards Positive Lists in Europe

Watch the video of the last conference AAP co-organized in Lithuania (09/2016). 

Are you an NGO, agency or government and would like to learn more about the possibilities for a Positive List or to inform us of changes currently taking place in your country? Send us an email and let’s start talking!


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