Lambert, H., Carder, G., D'Cruze, N. 2019. Given the cold shoulder: A review of the scientific literature for evidence of reptile sentience. Animals 9(10), 821.
We searched a selection of the scientific literature to document evidence for, and explorations into reptile sentience. The intention of this review was to highlight; (1) to what extent reptile capability for emotions have been documented in the scientific literature; (2) to discuss the implications this evidence has for the trade in reptiles; and (3) to outline what future research is needed to maximise their captive welfare needs. We used 168 keywords associated with sentience, to search through four journal databases and one open-access journal. We recorded studies that explored sentience in reptiles and those that recognised reptile sentience in their experiments. We found that reptiles were assumed to be capable of the following emotions and states; anxiety, distress, excitement, fear, frustration, pain, stress, and suffering, in 37 articles. We also found four articles that explored and found evidence for the capacity of reptiles to feel pleasure, emotion, and anxiety. These findings show that reptiles are considered to be capable of experiencing a range of emotions and states. This has implications for how reptiles are treated in captivity, as a better understanding could help to inform a range of different operational initiatives aimed at reducing negative animal welfare impacts, including improved husbandry and consumer behaviour change programmes.