We found a pattern between US reptile trade and smuggling of live reptiles to Australia. Almost all species smuggled to Aus are legal in US trade and are popular We compared illegal smuggling of reptiles into Australia to the legal pet trade of reptiles in the US. We provide the first empirical risk watch-list for desirable reptile species being trafficked into Australia. Our findings give insight into the drivers of illegal wildlife trade and our approach provides a framework for anticipating future trends in wildlife smuggling.
Australian reptiles face serious conservation threats from illegal poaching fuelled by international demand and the exotic pet trade. We investigated the extent of illegal trade in a charismatic Australian lizard: the shingleback, also known as the bobtail or sleepy lizard. Using government records, media reports, and online advertisements, we found clear evidence that many shinglebacks have been illegally poached from the wild and are smuggled overseas to be traded as pets. Not only are our findings concerning from a conservation and animal welfare perspective, but they also highlight a major legal loophole. Once shinglebacks are illegally smuggled out of Australia, there are no legal actions available to prevent or regulate overseas trade. To address this, we recommend using an existing and under-utilised legislative tool (Appendix III of CITES, an international treaty) to protect Australian shinglebacks and help to curtail global trade.
The international trade in exotic vertebrate pets provides key social and economic benefits but also drives associated ecological, ethical, and human health impacts. Here, we represent and review the structure of the pet trade as a network composed of different market actors (nodes) and trade flows (links). As a case study of how data-informed networks can realize this goal, we quantified spatial and temporal patterns in pets imported to the United States. Our framework and case study illustrate how network approaches can help to inform and manage the effects of the growing demand for exotic pets.
The internet is a vast source of wildlife trade data. Here, we present an accessible guide for Internet‐based wildlife trade surveillance, which uses a repeatable and systematic method to automate data collection from relevant websites. Our guide is adaptable to the multitude of trade‐based contexts including different focal taxa or derived parts, and locations of interest.
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.
The exotic pet trade is a multi-billion dollar industry involving thousands of animal species. Research has historically focused only the conservation and disease risks, however the risk of pets becoming invasive species has been overlooked. We show this trade is now the leading contributor of non-native establishments and invasions worldwide among vertebrates. We highlight areas of future research/policy changes needed to avoid more invasive pets in the future.
The trade of non-native animals as pets the main pathway for new invasive species if they become released into the wild. Here, we examined the trade in non-native reptiles and amphibians as pets in the United States. We found c. 1,700 species traded in the past two decades of which 126 species have been recorded as released in the wild. Using machine learning models, we show that larger-bodied, longer-lived species, who sold for cheaper prices were more likely to have been released. We propose policies and education focused on species with these characteristics in order to curb the impacts of new invasive species that originated as pets.