Reptile Legislation in NSW
What’s the issue?
In all other states and territories of Australia, certain species of reptiles are allowed to be kept as pets in the same way you would keep a dog or cat. These include certain types of lizards, turtles and snakes. ONLY IN NSW must you buy your reptile through a “breeder” and all your equipment through a pet shop , and old fashioned licensing laws making it difficult and messy for you to have a reptile as a pet.
Why is this important?
Reptiles make great pets because they
- encourage learning about Australia’s native species
- once you know the rules, they are easy to keep and care for
- they are generally well kept by their owners
- they are a healthy alternative pet to dogs and cats, providing all the social and mental benefits of pet ownership
- they can be kept in small areas and do not require exercise – so they are ideal pets for apartments, villas and houses on small blocks of land.
Why should you have your pet and your equipment sold by the same people?
Regardless of whether you are a breeder to branches out into selling equipment or a pet shop who branches out into selling reptiles, it is important that you are able to get your equipment and pet from the same source.
- it encourages the seller to stock exactly the right equipment for your pet, because they have experience of the pet in their operation,
- it encourages the seller to develop a broad knowledge of the species they are selling, not just the breed but also the right equipment
- it encourages the seller to stay right up to date with new equipment being released on a continuous basis, and to test the new equipment so see if it right for your species
- it encourages the equipment seller to stock the full range of equipment for that pet – food, heating, lighting, enclosures, litter, etc
- you don’t get into a situation where you have bought a “reptile in a shoebox” and then go elsewhere for the equipment only to find that the things you need are out of stock of not right for your pet.
- people selling reptile equipment in NSW are already highly regulated and inspected by the RSPCA, but those only selling reptile pets are not so regulated.
- being able to get your pet locally potentially slows the significant sales of reptiles across state boundaries
In other words, when you sell both the reptile and the equipment (regardless of whether you are a breeder or a pet shop) you have an emotional investment in the keeping of that species. You are better at what you do and that has direct benefit for the reptile owner, and better reptile animal welfare will result.
So what to we need to do?
Clearly we need to bring NSW in line with all other states and legalise the sale of equipment and reptile pets from the same outlets – regardless of whether they are a breeder or a pet shop. Doing this in other states and territories has been shown to work for the welfare of reptile pets. Good breeders and keepers in NSW have agreed that this should happen, and a fair and rational proposal including licensing has been sitting on the NSW Department’s desk for more than 8 months. The Minister has agreed that this is needed, but won’t finally sign off on the plan.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Email Lisa Corbyn, Director-General, Department of Environment on
Or write to her at 59 Goulburn St, Sydney
Tell her that the welfare of reptiles in NSW will benefit from allowing the sale of reptile pets and reptile equipment from the same regulated outlets.
2. Email the Minister for the Environment Frank Sartor at
or phone him (02) 9228 5811
or write to him C/o Parliament House, Sydney and ask him to progress the matter – there might be a few votes in it for him from all those reptile lovers out there.
Want to express your views? Go to the members blog. Pets Australia listens to the view of its members and acts on their needs.