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Computer Game Creates Worrying Demand For Exotic Pets

The RSPCA has expressed concerns that a computer game has led to increased demand for exotic pets, such as axolotls. Minecraft allows users to find, tame, and breed the animals. This has created a worrying trend in kids asking for them as pets. But few parents are aware that axolotl’s are a 15 year commitment.

(Image credit: Mojang)

(Image credit: Mojang)

RSPCA Comment On The Demand For Exotic Pets

We spoke with Dr. Ros Clubb, Senior Scientific Manager at RSPCA. She shared with us the complex needs of the animals and how impulse-buying risks their welfare. She advised:

“Looking after exotic pets is very challenging. As well as investing in the correct set-up, including a large tank with good water filtration and heating, they need regular water changes, veterinary care if they become ill and someone to care for them during holidays and other times away. It’s a big commitment. They also shouldn’t be handled, so will kids still be interested months or years down the line?

“We’re particularly concerned when new pet trends such as axolotls emerge as exotic pets often end up in our care later down the line when people realise they’re not easy to care for, or once the novelty wears off. Playing with an axolotl in Minecraft is one thing, but taking on the care of a real live axolotl is a whole different matter.”

The axolotl/Minecraft phenomenon threatens to have similar consequences as previous media related trends. This includes the increased trade in terrapins following the release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, and of clownfish after the Finding Nemo film was released.

The Challenges Of Caring For Exotic Animals

The RSPCA are hoping to highlight the challenges of providing appropriate care for exotic pets living in a domestic environment. Before buying, the RSPCA urges prospective owners of any exotic pet to research the needs of the particular species thoroughly and ensure they can meet them at all times for the lifetime of the animal.

Unfortunately many people are unaware of how much of a commitment axolotls and other exotic pets are when they take them on. The RSPCA believes that the decision to acquire one should not be taken lightly as impulse-buying risks animals suffering as people may not fully understand what is needed to care for them properly.

‘The Exotic Pet-demic: UK’s ticking time bomb exposed’

A report published jointly by Born Free and RSPCA in September, ‘The Exotic Pet-demic: UK’s ticking time bomb exposed’, calls for the government to amend the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill, claiming current laws are inadequate to protect the needs of exotic pets, and requests an urgent overhaul.

Chris Sherwood, the RSPCA’s CEO said: “There needs to be better regulation of the keeping and trade in exotic pets, and we are proposing that the UK Government gives consideration to proposals like a positive list system as a possible way forward”.

  • Amend the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill to close a loophole that would allow primates to be traded between license holders
  • To introduce further restrictions on other exotic wild animals being kept as pets
  • Consider and consult on the possibility of  developing a robust ‘Positive List’ system to restrict the keeping of pets to those species which meet strict criteria aimed at ensuring their welfare and conservation, and protecting human, animal and environmental health
  • Consider and consult on its future approach to the trade in and keeping of exotic pets to mitigate and prevent animal welfare, conservation, human and animal health and safety, and environmental risks, as well as respecting species protections in other countries.

For further advice and guidance on caring for exotic pets, please visit the RSPCA’s exotics web page.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit their website or call their donation line on 0300 123 8181.

Click here for more Preloved articles on Animal Welfare.



Community Manager

Tina's been part of the Preloved family since 2014 and spends most of her time reviewing Preloved policy and speaking with external parties, such has charities, forums, and government agencies. She enjoys spending quality time with her family, pets, friends, and Netflix.