The State Government today announced new regulations were being introduced under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 allowing the keeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets in Western Australia.

Environment and Heritage Minister Dr Judy Edwards said the new Wildlife Conservation (Reptiles and Amphibians) Regulations would provide the framework for a licensing system to keep native reptiles and amphibians as pets (Pet Herpetofauna) under strict controls managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management.

”Currently WA is the only State that does not have a licensing system in place for the keeping of reptiles and amphibians as pets,” Dr Edwards

”For the first time, people will be lawfully permitted to keep such pets, however under strong controls, which ensure responsible ownership.

”The licensing system will be based on specified licence categories and limited to a list of species prepared by the department, in association with the WA Society of Amateur Herpetologists and reptile keeping specialists from throughout Australia.”

The Minister said a public comment period regarding the proposal had also been conducted, with the majority of submissions supporting the changes.

”The regulations will be published in the Government Gazette next Tuesday, with an approved reptile species keeping list released in a few weeks, at which time the licensing system for the private keeping of pet reptiles could start,” she said.

Dr Edwards said species on the list included the western green and golden bell frog (motorbike frog), western bearded dragon, western bluetongue lizard, bobtail lizard, Stimson's python and South-West carpet python.

”While there will be very few animals available initially for keeping, numbers will increase over time through licensed sources,” she said.

”However, people need to be very aware that it is illegal to take reptiles and amphibians from the wild to keep as pets and that persons attempting
to illegally keep these animals will be prosecuted.”

The Minister said there would be five categories of pet herpetofauna keeping with licence conditions covering housing, security, welfare and trade.

”Given the special qualities of reptiles and amphibians, any keeping system
needs to adequately control who may keep and breed which species and under what special conditions,” she said.

”Licences will be issued with special provisions for activities such as dealing, trade, breeding and wild harvest and will take into consideration keeper experience, pet habitat and the age of applicants.

”The regulations also provide for the imposition of special conditions on the breeding for sale of pet reptiles and amphibians, as well as special security conditions on licences for keeping dangerous species.

”Only people over 18 years of age, with suitable experience and facilities,
will be eligible to keep dangerous snakes as pets.

”Crocodiles and marine turtles, which are classified as reptiles, are excluded from the regulations and will not be eligible to be kept as pets.”

The Regulations provide for the following licence categories:

Category 1 - (Exempt from licensing) easiest and safest to keep reptiles and amphibians. (This category will not be used initially, but may be used in the future once there is a ready availability of reptiles in the pet trade that may be suitable for unlicensed keeping, as currently occurs with birds such as budgies);
Category 2 - Basic Keeping Licence, for the easy to keep and common reptiles and amphibians;
Category 3 - Standard Keeping Licence, for the slightly more difficult to keep reptiles and amphibians
Category 4 - Advanced Keeping Licence for the difficult to keep reptiles and amphibians; and
Category 5 - Expert Keeping Licence for the very difficult to keep and dangerous (highly venomous) reptiles and amphibians. This includes special restrictions on housing, handling and exposure of other persons to dangerous reptiles and amphibians.

Dr Edwards said the licensing system would operate on a fee schedule, with higher fees for higher species categories. Full details of the operation of the licensing system would be made available over the coming months.

”The system will be managed by the Department's Wildlife Branch and operate on a similar basis to avian fauna licensing,” she said.

Minister's office: 9220 5050