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DWAA Info (dangerous wild animals act 1976)

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Some facts about DWA keepers and animals

1)         NO dwa keeper has died or suffered serious injury from their animals.

2)         There has not been ANY deaths from non native venomous reptiles for over 100 years.

3)         NO member of the public has ever been attacked or injured by any reptile kept under the DWA license.

4)        There are an estimated 3'000 dog bites a years, MANY affecting innocent members of the public. There are also several deaths per year caused by dog attacks.

 List of ALL species covered by the DWA act  HERE

The Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced in the UK in 1976, with the intention of protecting members of the public from any dangerous animals that people may wish to keep as pets. The idea of the DWAA was in principal a very good one, unfortunately it was hijacked into an animal welfare / protection policy with many animals that do not fall into the 'dangerous to the public' criteria (certainly not when compared to any large dog!) included onto the schedule.

The other 'grey' area of this act is the fact that there is NO written document that can be used in deciding if somebody has the suitable knowledge or facilities to keep animals covered under the act, with the Local Authority having the final decision on if you will be granted a license or not. In fact some LA refuse to issue DWA licenses POINT BLANK and when challenged will go to court or if they do back down, introduce conditions and fees that make it almost out of reach for most people, this is of course totally unlawful and NOT what the DWAA was introduced for. Each LA is free to decide how much to charge for the license, figures I gathered some years ago ranged from 44 up to 1600 per year! (Fire arms license costs less than 50 for 5 years!). You are also required to have Public Liability insurance for 1,000,000 (not needed if you own a shot gun or fire arm!).

I strongly believe that the DWA needs to be re-formatted into a 3 tier system an example for reptiles would be Level 1 - Gila Monsters, Dwarf Caiman, Certain Rear fanged snakes, Level 2 - Vipers and Pit vipers, Level 3 Elapids etc. Each level would require a different set of protocols to be met, ranging from Level 1, escape proof, locked cage on a secure base. Up to level 3 which would require a purpose built room, uncluttered, escape proof, 2 door entry, alarmed, with 2 years DWA experience. I will expand this in more detail at a later time.

For now, with the DWA act as it is, I have listed the following protocols that I would suggest is a common sense approach.

Housing - Vivariums must be of sound construction, with lockable access points. Glass where used should be toughened. The vivarium must be on a secure base that will not topple if knocked. The vivarium should be of adequate size for the animal/s kept within. Air vents should be secure and fitted in such a way that prevents them being 'pushed' out from the inside.

Handling - Full range of suitable tools, including secure carrying box and holding container (for use while cleaning vivarium etc).

Experience - A good knowledge of general reptile husbandry should be demonstrated backed up with a 'buddy system', this would mean that you must have the name and phone number of an existing DWA holder that you can call upon if needed.

Placing the Vivarium - Depending on the animals kept, it can range from a spare bedroom to purpose built room in the garden. The key points should be, an uncluttered room, no means of escape unless via the door or open window, in the case of more dangerous animals i.e. elapids and some vipers, windows should be screened and a double door entry would also be needed. A spy hole or viewing panel in the door would also be advised.

As you can see, with such an array of possible animals kept, it is very difficult to come up with sensible protocols that are not unnecessary (i.e. screened windows for dwarf caimans is just pointless!) The above is just my opinion and recommendations that I would advise somebody. I have had over 15 years of DWA reptile experience ranging from working in shops / importers to keeping DWA in my own collection. I have also been involved in wildlife documentary programmes involving venomous reptiles.

This whole section will be expanded when time allows. 

If you would like help or advice with regards to applying for a Dangerous Wild Animals license for reptiles, please feel free to contact me.

 January 2009 ~ All rights reserved - First web presence March 2004

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