Live Trade Shortens Lizard Lives

A captive bearded dragon. A new survey estimates that 4.2 million reptiles entered into trade in the UK from 2006-2011, and that 3.4 million of these are now dead. Photo by Tim SnellEndangered animals are being scooped up in alarming numbers to serve as pets. Many of them, sadly, do not long survive the transition into captivity. A new scientific analysis of the exotic pet trade in the United Kingdom, detailed in an article published in the August issue of The Biologist, has found that at least 75 percent of pet snakes, lizards, tortoises and turtles—whose lifespans in the wild range from 8 to a staggering 120 years—die within one year in the home. Stressful, inhumane storage and transport conditions in trade also mean many die before they even get to homes. In a press release accompanying the article, Mark Downs, Chief Executive of the Society of Biology (publisher of The Biologist), says: “‘Most people who purchase exotic pets have no idea of the potential consequences for the individual animal or the whole species, or even their own health. It is important to raise awareness of the issue: the pets we keep in our homes shouldn’t be a threat to biodiversity elsewhere in the world.’”