LONDON, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
- New guidance on behavioural assessment of reptiles aims to raise standards amongst, vets, inspectors and reptile keepers
An article published in the latest issue of the prestigious peer-reviewed veterinary journal In Practice, has been welcomed by the Animal Protection Agency (APA) as a potential leap forward for reptile welfare. The paper, entitled 'Assessing reptile welfare using behavioural criteria', which leads the front cover of the journal, acknowledges that reptiles are ill-suited to captivity and that a major obstacle to improving their health and welfare is the difficulty in recognising important signs of stress and suffering. The authors hope that this guidance will help vets improve the lifespan and life quality of their charges.
The paper should also be helpful to local authority inspectors; zoo, pet shop and sanctuary staff; and laboratory and field researchers. But APA, an organisation that campaigns against the trade in wild animals as pets, hopes that this important guidance will also filter down to, or be directly accessed by, pet reptile keepers.
Pet snakes, lizards and turtles are usually confined to glass tanks or vivariums but such restrictive and artificial enclosures can lead to captivity-stress, behavioural and psychological problems, injury and disease. Snakes often cannot even stretch to full length in viviariums, a problem that the article draws attention to. The authors hope that this guidance will prompt vets, when assessing reptiles, to question and advise their clients on husbandry practices.
Says lead author of the paper, Clifford Warwick:
"Veterinarians are our most trusted and available source of impartial help at the forefront animal care. Vets have to deal with many different animals, and those who are confronted with reptiles need all the help they can get. Many reptiles fare very poorly in captivity and do not live long. This article aims to make some specialised biological information conveniently available for vets to add to their existing knowledge on care, and hopefully, to pass on to their clients."
The article lists almost 40 positive and negative behavioural signs that are essential to understanding reptile wellbeing, but many of these are overlooked or misinterpreted, leading to animals languishing in unsuitable conditions. Last year, APA was involved in study (published in The Biologist), which found that 75% of pet snakes, lizards, tortoises and turtles die within just one year in the home. These animals have a natural potential to live from 8 to 120 years, depending on their species, but most die due to captivity-stress-related causes.
Notes to Editors
- 'Assessing reptile welfare using behavioural criteria' can be accessed via this link: http://inpractice.bmj.com/content/35/3/123.full
- For further information or images, please contact Elaine Toland on +44(0)1273-674253 or out of hours on +44(0)7986-535024.
SOURCE Animal Protection Agency