Title:Legislation on the keeping of reptiles in Norway
Koteles, Pia Mathilde
According to the Animal Welfare Act there is today prohibited to keep reptiles and amphibians in Norway, if one has not applied for an exemption from the FSA. At the same time a large number of illegal animals are kept in the country. The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Foods has asked the FSA to propose a positive list over reptiles and amphibians which eventually could become legal to keep in private homes. The FSA received a list with 30 species, which the Norwegian Herpetilogisk Association suggested. The FSA asked the Scientific committee on Food Safety (VKM) for an assessment of the risks of poor animal welfare if these species where permitted to keep in private homes. The VKM finalized the risk assessment in 2011, and gave it to the FSA. Based on the risk assessment, the FSA recommended in June 2011 to The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Foods that a limited number of reptiles and amphibians should be legalized. There has still not been a hearing about changing the law. Norway and Island is today the only countries in Europe which has a total ban on keeping of reptiles and amphibians. Despite the ban a significant number of such animal are kept in private homes in Norway, the Norwegian Zoo-Shoppers Industry Association estimates it to be 100, 000 animals. The last three years the FSA have dealt with more than 200 illegal animals per year. Some of the animals are relocated to zoos that are allowed to keep herptiles. In most cases however, the animals are euthanized, even if they are healthy and well maintained. The total prohibition is felt by many owners as problematic. Among other things they are afraid of being deprived the animal and turned in to the police by visiting the vet. Veterinarians are set to help the sick animals in the best possible way, and may find it difficult to deal with illegally held animals that need treatment. Sometimes the FSA are contacted by the police and have to deal with illegal animals. Some of the animals are kept in a good environment and the animals are in good health. Others can be in poor condition which is often due to poor environmental conditions as a result of lack of knowledge in animal keeping. According to the VKM risk assessment there is little or moderate risk of transmission of zoonoses, diseases to other animals or damage to people if legalization of most species on the list becomes a fact. The animal welfare of reptiles and amphibians is dependent of the owners knowledge about the species requirements for living conditions, but most species on the list have environmental requirements that dedicated owners will acquire knowledge about, even without the need of special expertise. Knowledge is also essential for the welfare of keeping of other pets, and several of the current legal species of birds, fish and mammals are relatively difficult to keep in a way that provides good animal welfare. There is no proof that the reptiles and amphibians on the list runs a greater risk of unnecessary burden than other more “traditional” pets. Compared with the current situation, where herptiles are held in secret, legalization of a limited number of species will not increase the risk of poor welfare overall.
Csintalan Csaba (supervisor)
Csintalan Csaba (supervisor)