The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched a new policy position on non-traditional companion animals (NTCAs) after research revealed that eight in 10 vets are concerned that the needs of non-traditional pets are not being met.

BVA research revealed that 81% of vets believe that the needs of pet reptiles, amphibians, birds and other exotic pets, are not being met by owners, and cite them being unable to properly care for them as one of the top reasons for welfare issues.

The association said that NTCAs can have “exacting husbandry requirements, and complex social, cognitive and nutritional needs” which can make them more challenging to keep as pets.

The new BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession research also revealed that vets who treat NTCAs reported that more than half (58%) of the NTCAs they see do not have their animal welfare needs met.

26% also reported having seen a rise in the number brought in for treatment in the past year.

Thinking twice

As well as urging anyone considering buying an NTCA to “think twice” about the decision, the BVA NTCA Working Group decided to launch the new policy position on NTCAs with the aim of improving the animals’ welfare.

Through its new policy position, the BVA is calling for more regulation of online sales and third-party advertising of NTCAs and an end to the import of wild-caught reptiles and amphibians for non-conservation reasons.

BVA senior vice president Justine Shotton said the welfare of NTCAs has long been a concern amongst vets, and that the association’s research has further proved this.

“We know people who keep these animals have the right intentions to give them the best care they can but their needs are so complex it can be difficult to do so, particularly if they are a new pet and owners are not sure exactly what they need,” she said.

“It is so important that potential buyers give careful consideration to buying such an animal before bringing one home.

“We’d also urge any vets who are approached by potential keepers for advice to strongly encourage them to do their research to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to care for them properly before buying an exotic species.”