Snakes: Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reasons the minimum size of enclosures for snakes was changed from the requirement stated in the draft Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 guidance.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will publish correspondence between her Department and businesses on the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 guidance on the size of snake enclosures; and what estimate she has made of the costs to businesses of increasing the size of snake enclosures.

Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (jointly with the Department for International Development)

The draft statutory guidance relating to pet sales that accompanies The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (the 2018 Regulations) contained two minimum accommodation size lengths for snakes in pet selling establishments. One was two thirds snake length and related to the minimum length of the enclosure in order to comply with the 2018 Regulations; and the other was 1x snake length which was the minimum length needed to attain the optional higher welfare standard.

During consultation on the draft guidance a group of specialist exotic animal veterinary and keeping professionals advised that there was no welfare basis for the higher welfare standard. We therefore withdrew the higher minimum welfare standard for snake accommodation sizes from the final published guidance. However, the minimum welfare size needed to comply with the 2018 Regulations remains at two thirds snake length. We have not made an estimate of the costs to businesses if they were required to increase the size of their snake enclosures.

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