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Salamanders and toad illegally posted to Ireland from Spain

The ISPCA has called for tougher regulations around the selling of exotic animals as pets.

ISPCA calls for tougher regulations around the breeding keeping One of the salamanders Source: ISPCA

THE ISPCA IS calling for tougher regulations around the breeding, keeping and selling of exotic animals as pets.

The animal welfare organisation has dealt with a number of incidents involving exotic animals in recent months.

Earlier this year eight fire salamanders and a natterjack toad were illegally imported into Ireland by post from Spain, for the pet trade market.

The animals were intercepted by Customs officers in Dublin and were quarantined and cared for by staff at the ISPCA National Animal Centre for the past five months.

The salamanders will soon be transported to a purpose-built facility at the Galway Atlantaquaria. The toad will be rehomed at the Wild Ireland Education Centre in the coming weeks as it cannot be released back to the wild.

ISPCA calls for tougher regulations around the breeding, keeping One of the salamanders Source: ISPCA

Fire salamanders are confirmed hosts of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (BSal) – a highly pathogenic chytrid fungus that infects salamanders and newts and is potentially a serious threat to salamanders in Europe and North America.

Some populations of the fire salamander have already been driven to extinction as a result in places such as the Netherlands and eastern parts of Belgium.

ISPCA calls for tougher regulations round the breeding keeping a The natterjack toad Source: ISPCA

In a statement released today, an ISCPA spokesperson said: “Such irresponsible and illegal trade in these species threatens not only the individual animals but also threatens populations.

The salamanders were quarantined at the ISPCA under specific conditions to ensure that they were not carrying BSal and were not able to spread the disease to other animals.

The ISPCA has urged the public to think carefully before considering getting exotic animals as pets.

This is due to their complex social needs, specific and nutritional requirements, public health risks, and the potential impact on the environment of species that can become invasive should they escape or be deliberately released.

‘Very serious concerns’ 

ISPCA Chief Inspector Conor Dowling said: “We are raising serious concerns about the poor standard of care provided to exotic animals that need specific environmental and nutritional requirements.

These animals are frequently allowed to suffer, sometimes unwittingly, by owners who simply do not have the knowledge to care for them properly. In some cases they may have been poorly advised when purchasing the animals.

“What must also be taken into consideration is that there can be a huge disparity between the size of exotic animals when they are babies and when they are fully mature.”

In July 2018 the ISPCA submitted a response to the public consultation in relation to the code of practice for pet shops and the advertising of animals online.

The ISPCA does not believe that a voluntary code of practice is sufficient and has called for a mandatory code of practice or specific legislation to be urgently introduced.

Snakes and tortoises 

Last summer the charity had to rescue two stray snakes.

More recently an emaciated Burmese python was discovered abandoned in the Wicklow Mountains and an ISPCA Inspector seized a Hermann’s tortoise and an axolotl from a property in Roscommon.

Python Penelope the python, found on the loose in Leitrim Source: ISPCA

Just last week, two Horsefield tortoises were surrendered into the care of the ISPCA by an owner who felt that they were unable to care for them adequately.

A specialist veterinary surgeon subsequently diagnosed that both were suffering from metabolic bone disease caused by lack of calcium in their diet. This can lead to softening of the bones shell of the animals and ultimately can prove fatal.

The ISPCA spokesperson added that the organisation is “also frequently contacted by owners of red-eared and yellow-bellied terrapins who are looking to rehome their pets which were bought as tiny babies but which can grow to 12 inches in length”.

“It is extremely difficult to find homes for such large specimens as they are so abundant and so difficult to care for,” they said. 

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Órla Ryan

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