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Where can you buy a venomous snake?

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At least half a dozen high street stockists of venomous snakes were identified this month through an online search by Vet Record. This is likely to be the tip of the iceberg since trading also takes place via internet forums and black market routes.

Rainforest Exotics in Ross-on-Wye advertised king cobras for sale earlier this year. In an online advertisement, the shop stipulated that the snakes were for ‘experienced’ Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) licence holders only. Herefordshire Council confirmed that Rainforest Exotics is licensed to sell venomous snakes.

Another pet shop, Wight Vipers, on the Isle of Wight, advertised a Sri Lankan pit viper for sale last year – again, perfectly legally. The shop’s website also advertises a highly venomous species of rattlesnake. As with Rainforest Exotics, a post on the shop’s Facebook page noted that the pit viper was for ‘DWA licence holders only’. Isle of Wight Council confirmed that Wight Vipers holds a licence that allows it to keep up to 20 venomous snakes.

Meanwhile, a gaboon viper – a generally docile species that is nonetheless extremely venomous – was advertised for sale on the listings website Preloved by Staffordshire pet shop The Unconventional Menagerie. As with the two examples above, the shop’s stock list made clear that the viper was for DWA licence holders only. A spokesperson for The Unconventional Menagerie told Vet Record that the shop, which also stocks some venomous species for display purposes, behaved in accordance with licensing laws.

Wrigglies, a reptile shop in Bedfordshire, earlier this month offered to point a potential customer ‘in the right direction’ after they inquired about buying a gaboon viper. In an email exchange, the shop made clear that the animal was DWA listed and so a licence was required to purchase.

Meanwhile, Rattlesnake Canyon, a shop in the Kingstanding area of Birmingham, ‘can provide customers with a variety of animals including DWA animals,’ according to its website. Birmingham City Council confirmed the shop has a licence to sell venomous snakes.

Reptile shops are known to trade venomous snakes between themselves

Specialist reptile shops are also known to sometimes trade venomous snakes between themselves – exchanges that are also entirely legal.

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