Health risks from exotic pets

I’ve just been at a meeting of the European parliament’s Animal Welfare Group, which dealt with alien and invasive species.  The meeting was chaired by our colleague Carl SCHLYTER, a Green MEP from Sweden.   Invasive species represent a number of potential threats, both to indigenous species and to animal and human health.  We had Staci McLennan, a Policy Officer for wildlife with the Euro Group for Animals, telling us about “zoonoses” — diseases of animals that can be transmitted to humans.

Staci McLennan

It seems that there are astonishing numbers of exotic species which are now kept as pets, many of which escape into the wild.     Perhaps not surprisingly, there are not many re-homing opportunities for pythons or North African macaques.

 

Staci told us about a particular problem that arose in the USA (she seemed to be American), where children were using small turtles as playthings, and even putting them into their mouths, with a high risk of transmission of infections like salmonella.  This actually led to a ban on the sale of small turtles in the USA.  My own view is that if children are going to put turtles into their mouths, we should at least ensure that the turtles are properly cooked.

 

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