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Animal Protection Agency issue guidance on snake enclosure sizes Published Date: 12/09/2023

In its communication to local authorities, the APA wrote:

As you may be aware, the Defra Animal Welfare Committee recently completed its year-long investigation and report regarding snake enclosure sizes and welfare. Following extensive study of the evidence and consultation including academic scientists, veterinarians, and trade stakeholders, the AWC report (1) decisively concluded that enclosures must be large enough to allow snakes to fully stretch their bodies at will.

  1. AWC (2023) Opinion on the space requirements for snakes in vivaria within pet selling establishments.

In addition, a raft of scientific research and review studies (samples included below) have confirmed that snakes must be able to fully stretch in all enclosures in order to meet with their welfare needs and thus the legal provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (2006). In addition, conditions in which snakes cannot fully stretch are associated with at least 40 stress-related issues; these issues significantly increase the risk of them shedding harmful bacteria to their keepers exacerbating public health and legal concerns (e.g., 2). 

  1. Public Health England

Also, any ‘temporary’ conditions should not restrict snakes from the ability to fully stretch for more than 24 hours (e.g., 3).

  1. Warwick, C., Steedman, C., Jessop, M. & Grant. R. (2023) Defining short-term accommodation for animals. Animals, 13(4):732.

Kat Stuart, Campaigns Officer, said:

"Enabling snakes to fully stretch their bodies in enclosures is now the global standard minimum housing requirement used in science, and by many sellers, including the US pet industry, and since 2022 also by the Welsh Government.

"We trust that this information is helpful regarding updates to your guidance for licensable pet selling, and to assist you with any emergent enquiries regarding the supporting scientific evidence and other information, we suggest that you might refer to the AWC report as well as the key items listed below."