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Major new Restrictions on Exotic Pet Keeping in the Netherlands Raise Hopes that UK will Follow

BRIGHTON, England, February 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

A new Dutch regulation came into force yesterday (1 February 2015) that limits the type of animals that can be kept as pets. Animals not included on the new 'Positive List' cannot be legally kept or may only be kept with a special permit. The Animal Protection Agency (APA), which campaigns against the trade in wild animals as pets, has greatly welcomed this new legislation and hopes that the UK (DEFRA and the devolved administrations) will also adopt this proven, practical and pragmatic approach. 

First to be listed are mammals, although reptiles and birds will follow. The UK pet trade offers a diverse range of exotic mammals, including meerkats, sugar gliders, sloths, skunks, kinkajous, fennec foxes and several primate species, which can be purchased without the need for a licence. According to leading animal welfare scientists, exotic species are essentially wild animals that do not adapt to captivity and are therefore not suitable pets. Unfortunately, although they have complex care needs and require specialised and expensive husbandry and veterinary care, traders often wrongly promote exotic mammals as 'easy pets'. Exotic pets can also pose health and safety risks to their keepers and, if escaped or released, can damage the environment.

A positive list for mammals has been in force in Belgium since 2001, where it has been highly effective -- illegal trade has reduced and fewer animals go to rescue shelters. Many other European countries are now considering positive lists. The Animal Protection Agency has, for some years, been pressing for the adoption of positive lists in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

The University of Wageningen developed the scientific method used to build the positive list, in which animal behavioural needs are a key feature. The positive list favours domesticated species such as: dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, brown rats, house mice, horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle and sheep. Stichting AAP (AAP Foundation), a leading rescue facility in Almere in The Netherlands that specialises in primates and other exotic mammals, has been campaigning for a positive list for 22 years. The Foundation sat on the expert panel that gathered available scientific and practical information about the animals. The State Secretary for Economic Affairs made the final decision as to whether to place an animal on the positive list.

Says David van Gennep, Executive Director of Stichting AAP : "We're very happy with this list. AAP is faced on a daily basis with owners who want to get rid of their exotic pet, because the animal was an ill-conceived, impulsive purchase. Raccoons, skunks or even kinkajous: You wouldn't believe the range of animals that get brought in here. The situation is so serious that the demand for housing facilities is considerably higher than the capacity of our rescue centers. We expect the Positive List to improve the welfare situation of the animals."

Says Elaine Toland, Director of the Animal Protection Agency: "One only has to compare the natural life of a meerkat, which has evolved to live in large social groups, hunt for a variety of foods and reside in intricate underground burrows to see that these mammals, and many other exotic species, do not belong in the pet trade. Simples! The Dutch positive list shines more light at the end of the tunnel for anyone dealing with the fallout of the exotic pet trade, which has long been out of control."

The Dutch positive list permits owners of prohibited species to keep their animals until they die but trading or breeding from their animals is not allowed. Anyone who acquires a prohibited species risks prosecution and having their animal confiscated.

Editor's notes:

  • See the appendix below for a full list of permitted animals.
  • For further information please contact Elaine Toland on +44(0)1273-674253, or out of hours on +44(0)7986-535024.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.


Table 1 Positive list, animal species that can be held without application of species-specific regulations for keeping animals.  

Scientific name                English name 

    Canis lupus familiaris     Domestic dog
    Felis catus                Domestic cat
    Atelerix albiventris       African pygmy hedgehog
    Capra aegragus             Wild goat
    Capra caucasica            Western tur
    Capra cylindricornis       Eastern tur
    Capra falconeri            Markhor
    Capra ibex                 Alpine ibex
    Capra nubiana              Nubian ibex
    Capra pyrenaica            Iberian wild goat
    Capra sibirica             Siberian ibex
    Capra walie                Walia ibex
    Gerbillus amoenus          Pleasant gerbil
    Gerbillus aquilus          Swarthy gerbil
    Gerbillus cheesmani        Cheesman's gerbil
    Gerbillus garamantis       Algerian gerbil
    Gerbillus gerbillus        Lesser Egyptian gerbil
    Gerbillus nanus            Dwarf gerbil
    Gerbillus perpallidus      Pale gerbil
    Gerbillus pyramidum        Greater Egyptian gerbil
    Lemniscomys barbarus       Barbary striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys bellieri       Bellier's striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys griselda       Griselda's striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys hoogstraali    Hoogstraal's striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys linulus        Senegal one-striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys macculus       Buffoon striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys mittendorfi    Mittendorf's striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys rosalia        Single-striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys roseveari      Rosevear's striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys striatus       Typical striped grass mouse
    Lemniscomys zebra          Heuglin's striped grass mouse
    Macropus (Macropus)
    giganteus                  Eastern grey kangaroo
    Macropus (Notamacropus)
    parma                      Parma wallaby
    Macropus (Osphranter)
    robustus                   Common walaroo
    Macropus (Notamacropus)
    rufogriseus                Red-necked wallaby
    Oryctolagus cuniculus
    (domestic form)            Domestic rabbit
    Rattus norvegicus          Brown rat
    Mus Musculus domesticus    House mouse
    Cavia porcellus            Guinea pig
    Mesocricetus auratus       Golden hamster
    Meriones (Pallasiomys)
    unguiculatus               Mongolian gerbil
    Neovison vison             American mink
    Equus caballus (excluding
    Przewalskii)               Horse
    Equus asinus asinus        Donkey
    Sus scrofa (domestic form) Domestic pig
    Capra hircus (domestic
    form)                      Goat
    Bos taurus (domestic form) Cattle
    Bubalus bubalis (domestic
    form)                      Water buffalo
    Dama dama                  Fallow deer
    Cervus elaphus             Red deer
    Ovis aries                 Sheep

Table 2: animal species that can be held with application of species-specific regulations for keeping animals. 

Scientific name                  English name 

    Callosciurus adamsi          Ear-spot squirrel
    Callosciurus albescens       Kloss's squirrel
    Callosciurus baluensis       Kinabalu squirrel
    Callosciurus caniceps        Grey-bellied squirrel
    Callosciurus finlaysonii     Finlayson's squirrel
    Callosciurus inornatus       Inornate squirrel
    Callosciurus melanogaster    Mentawi squirrel
    Callosciurus nigrovittatus   Black-striped squirrel
    Callosciurus notatus         Plaintain squirrel
    Callosciurus orestes         Borneo black-banded squirrel
    Callosciurus phayrei         Phayre's squirrel
    Callosciurus prevostii       Prevost's squirrel
    Callosciurus pygerythrus     Hoary-bellied squirrel
    Callosciurus quinquestriatus Anderson's squirrel
    Equus burchelli              Plains zebra
    Equus ferus przewalskii      Przewalski's horse
    Equus grevyi                 Grevy's zebra
    Equus hemionus               Asiatic wild ass
    Equus hemionus khur          Indian wild ass
    Equus kiang                  Kiang
    Equus zebra                  Mountain zebra
    Hystrix (Acanthion)
    brachyura                    Malayan porcupine
    Hystrix (Hystrix)
    africaeaustralis             Cape porcupine
    Hystrix (Hystrix) cristata   Crested porcupine
    Hystrix (Thecurus)
    crassispinis                 Thick-spined porcupine
    Hystrix (Hystrix) indica     Indian-crested porcupine
    Hystrix (Acanthion) javanica Sunda porcupine
    Hystrix (Thecurus) pumila    Phillipine porcupine
    Hystrix (Thecurus) sumatrae  Sumatran porcupine
    Macropus (Notamacropus)
    agilis                       Agile wallaby
    Macropus (Osphranter) rufus  Red kangaroo
    Sciurus (Otosciurus) aberti  Albert's squirrel
    Sciurus (Tenes) anomalus     Causasian squirrel
    Sciurus (Guerlinguetus)
    granatensis                  Red-tailed squirrel
    Sciurus (Urosciurus)
    igniventris                  Northern Amazon red squirrel
    Sciurus (Sciurus) lis        Japanese squirrel
    Sciurus (Sciurus)
    variegatoides                Variegated squirrel
    Sciurus (Sciurus) vulgaris   Eurasian red squirrel
    Sus ahoenobarbus             Palawan bearded pig
    Sus barbatus                 Bearded pig
    Sus bucculentus              Indo-Chinese warty pig
    Sus cebifrons                Visayan warty pig
    Sus celebensis               Sulawesi warty pig
    Sus oliveri                  Oliver's warty pig
    Sus philippensis             Philippene warty pig
    Sus salvanius                Pygmy hog
    Sus scrofa                   Wild boar
    Sus verrucosus               Javan warty pig

Animal Protection Agency
Brighton Media Centre
15-17 Middle Street

(Source: Rijksoverheid):

SOURCE The Animal Protection Agency (APA)

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