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Reptile welfare
The need for snakes to fully stretch
  1. Phillip C. Arena,
  2. Meaghan Crawford,
  3. Neil A. Forbes,
  4. Fredric L. Frye,
  5. Rachel Grant,
  6. Tiffani Howell,
  7. Mike Jessop,
  8. Angelo J. L. Lambiris,
  9. Karen Mancera,
  10. David Morton,
  11. Emma Nicholas,
  12. Anthony Pilny,
  13. Catrina Steedman,
  14. Adrian Walton,
  15. Clifford Warwick and
  16. Martin Whitehead
  1. The Independent Ad Hoc Scientific Group on Snake Welfare, c/o Riverside House, River Lawn Road, Tonbridge TN9 1EP
  1. e-mail: cliffordwarwick{at}

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In his letter (VR, 10 November 2018, vol 183, pp 571-572), Martin Whitehead asked several questions of the snake-keeping community and of Defra, referenced obligations and asked that proponents of the practice of keeping snakes in enclosures less than 1 x its length provide evidence to support its validity. In particular, what objective scientific evidence supports keeping snakes in enclosures shorter than they are, and how could this be consistent with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 2006?

In the same issue, Chris Newman (pp 573-574), and Tariq Abou-Zahr (pp 572-573), responding to Whitehead, failed to provide such evidence, and instead offered several references or guidelines tantamount to mere redirections to unevidenced, handed-down, convenience-led snake-keeping habits and opinion – otherwise formally known as ‘folklore husbandry’ for its scientific …

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