Illegal to keep snakes as pets: AVA

Straits Times 8 Feb 13;

WITH the year of the Snake about to hatch, authorities are keeping an eye out for anyone selling or buying these reptiles as auspicious pets.

It is illegal to keep, import or sell snakes as pets in Singapore, said the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) in an advisory released yesterday.

Snakes could be a public safety risk, said the AVA, and in any case, many species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). Anyone caught smuggling, possessing, displaying, or advertising animals in stores or online risks incurring penalties of up to $50,000 per specimen and/or a maximum jail term of two years.

In the last year of the Snake in 2001, the AVA dealt with seven cases of illegal trade or possession of live snakes, their parts and products, which resulted in 46 live snakes being seized.

Since then, the AVA has handled 72 seizures of 231 live snakes, most of which found homes at Wildlife Reserves Singapore. One case of illegal possession or trade is being investigated.

Anyone with reliable information on such activities in Singapore should contact AVA at 6325-7625 or ava_email@ava.gov.sg.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Singapore also urged members of the public to keep snakes out of their homes.

SPCA director Corinne Fong said the society has yet to find specific cases of snake possession and sales this year, but cited past cases of rabbits being discarded after the Lunar Year of the Rabbit as cause for preemptive action this time.

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