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Why the International Exotic-Pet Trade Is Actually Worse Than You Thought

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Posted September 12, 2016 by Lily Trahan

Back in sixth grade, my class had a “pet” salamander named John. My parents never let me adopt a cat or dog growing up, so when the school offered to let me take John home and keep him permanently, I was thrilled. Little did I know that most exotic animals, including reptiles like John, suffer long before they’re purchased as “pets.”

Animals crammed into filthy, crowded plastic bins and confined to boxes for more than a decade—that’s the reality of the international reptile trade, which was revealed by a recent PETA Germany investigation.

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Lizards, snakes, and other reptiles who are destined to become exotic “pets” are often violently removed from their homes in the wild or born in a breeding mill and then shipped all over the world. PETA Germany found that each year, roughly 600,000 reptiles are imported into Germany alone, and many die along the way. 🙁 

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At German wholesalers, the dead reptiles are separated out upon arrival. The surviving ones are crammed into tiny plastic boxes, where they may suffer for months or longer. PETA Germany’s eyewitness documented that the country’s largest snake dealer, M&S Reptiles, confined snakes to containers so small that they couldn’t even stretch to their full length—and that some were kept in these containers for more than 10 years. Can you imagine being trapped for that long?!

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Animals were also regularly shipped to wholesalers in Germany from Reptiles by Mack—a reptile mill in Ohio that breeds and sells animals to pet stores—in plastic containers resembling restaurant “to go” boxes. A PETA eyewitness saw hundreds of animals left in these containers for more than 24 hours without a drop of water or any food before finally being shipped off to other facilities.

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After its investigation, PETA Germany pushed for criminal charges against two leading German wholesalers and is calling for a nationwide ban on the private keeping of exotic animals.

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What You Can Do

Eyewitnesses from PETA and its international affiliates have repeatedly documented abuse and suffering at facilities that breed and sell animals. Pledge never to shop at Petco, PetSmart, or ANY store that sells animals—and always adopt from an animal shelter.

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