Miranda Krestovnikoff looks at the impact of taking animals from the wild to be kept as pets. She asks if the trade in reptiles and amphibians could or should be banned.
The demand for exotic and unusual pets is growing. Reptiles and amphibians , including snakes, lizards and geckos are popular pets for those looking for something alternative to cats and dogs. Some are captive bred or captive farmed and others are caught from the wild. The British Veterinary Association is re-evaluating its position on wild caught animals but the animal lobby group the Animal Protection Agency has called for a ban on the trade completely. They argue it causes suffering to the animals but also damages the environment.
Miranda Krestovnikoff looks behind the scenes at Heathrow where officers have intercepted animals being smuggled in illegally. She also speaks to Traffic, the wildlife monitoring organisation about the impact on the ecosystems when species are taken out of the wild and also asks what happens when exotic pets are released into the UK countryside.
But those involved in the pet trade in the UK say it's come a long way over the last 20 years. Miranda's invited to Exotic Pets UK which breeds some animals but also imports wild-caught species. They say they make the customers aware of where each species is sourced so they can make an informed decision but say if more people bred these animals in the UK there'd be less need to import. But Chris Newman from the Federation of British herpetologists and REPTA says the trade in species helps protect their habitat and a ban could actually threaten them.