Illegal exotic pet possession of snakes, reptiles on rise in Singapore

Lake Erie water snake
Lake Erie water snake Wikimedia Commons

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), Singapore said more than 105 cases have been reported in the country since 2013 where people possessed illegal exotic pets including snakes and geckos. Snakes and geckos are wild animals, and possessing them as pets is a grave crime in the country.

Crime which negatively impacts nature

The officials have in the past seized animals including hedgehogs, wild python, ball pythons, star tortoises, leopard geckos, and sugar gliders. Most of these exotic animals are species who are facing the fear of extinction from the planet.

These animals are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Singapore, a signatory of CITES, has to comply with the agreement to make sure that illegal trade of these animals are not happening in the country and that they can be protected from the verge of extinction.

Even though these animals are allowed to keep as pets in some countries, Singapore has banned illegal exotic pet possession, as maintaining these animals healthy is often a difficult task.

"They have very special requirements that you can only understand if you really understand the biology of the animal. Because it's illegal in Singapore, I think the expertise is simply not there," Sonja Luz, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore's Director of Conservation & Research told Channel News Asia.

Sonja Luz also warned that these creatures are also capable of transmitting salmonella bacteria which will cause serious illness to people.

Singapore's World Wide Fund for Nature has recently said that the country is slowly emerging as a transit hub for the illegal exotic pet trade as smugglers are on prowl using air and sea links in the country for trading these animals.

Even some online sites are being used for trading these animals, making the monitoring activity more tedious and difficult. Those who engage in illegal pet trade in Singapore will get a fine of up to S$5,00,000 or two years imprisonment or both.