Drivers of the Australian native pet trade: The role of species traits, socioeconomic attributes and regulatory systems

Understanding what drives the pet trade can help anticipate conservation, biosecurity, and welfare risks. We used South Australia’s native wildlife permit reporting system as a data-rich example of a live vertebrate pet market. We used piecewise structural equation modelling (SEM) to test the influence of 11 a priori variables relating to pets (e.g., species traits), pet owners (e.g., socioeconomic metrics), and regulatory systems (e.g., permit requirements) on the quantities of bird and reptile captive keeping, breeding, trading, and escapes into the wild. We found that species traits are a strong determinant of pet trade dynamics, yet permit systems also play a key role in de-incentivising undesirable trade practices. While our research highlights the potential of trade regulatory systems, we recommend that consistent permit category criteria are established to reduce trade in threatened species, as well as alien species of high biosecurity risk.

Australia’s wish list of exotic pets: biosecurity and conservation implications of desired alien and illegal pet species

The live pet trade is a major pathways for invasive species. Australia imposes tough regulations against the trade of non-native animals as pets. However, there exists an illegal trade of these animals in Australia that threatens biosecurity. Here, we used government records of enquiries from the general public to assess the characteristics of species that are likely desired as pets. We found that desired species are more likely to invasive species elsewhere or at risk of extinction due to trade. Our findings suggest that in absence of strict laws, an unregulated pet trade would threaten Australian biosecurity and global conservation efforts.