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October 12, 2009

The Trade in Live Reptiles: Imports to the United States

The United States is one of the world's largest buyers of live reptiles

The Humane Society of the United States

The United States is one of the world's largest consumers of reptiles. More than 13 million reptiles are kept in more than four million American households according to the American Pet Products Association. Throughout the 1990s, about 2 million live reptiles were imported into the United States annually.  Thousands more were removed from the wild, or bred in captivity, to supply the pet trade.

Few people stop to consider the origin of reptiles offered for sale at pet stores, the suffering the reptiles have endured, or whether reptiles make appropriate pets in the first place. Many people are lured into buying a pet reptile by misinformation proclaiming that reptiles are inexpensive, low maintenance pets. But experts know that proper care requires a substantial and long-term commitment of time and money, as well as research into the specialized needs of these animals. Improper care can lead to illness, injury, and death of the animals. Reptiles also can carry disease to their human caregivers.

To read our 2001 report on live reptile imports, download the PDF.

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