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BETTER EDUCATION FOR REPTILE PET OWNERS COULD REDUCE THE REHOMING NUMBERS BY ALMOST HALF

One voice for Animals Guest blog from Lecturer Helen Tedds



Nearly half of pet reptiles are given away or sold on classified websites due to reasons stemming from a lack of education, according to an extensive research project carried out by a Hartpury University academic.

Helen Tedds, a Lecturer in Animal Welfare and Programme Manager for the MSc Animal Welfare, Policy, and Legislation at Hartpury University, is currently researching the pet reptile trade across England as part of her PhD at the University of Northampton. Part of her research has involved sifting through tens of thousands of classified adverts selling reptiles to better understand the reasons behind giving up a pet.

Over the last three years, of the 20,908 reptiles advertised by their owners with a reason for sale or rehoming, 44.6% cited reasons that could have potentially been avoided by education.

Helen’s investigation is part of her wider research into the pet reptile trade, identifying what kind of advice is available to potential owners when buying a reptile as well as acquiring a better picture of how many species are available to buy in England – over 500 different species, so far. She was invited to the House of Lords this month (October 2022) for a discussion hosted by the Companion Animal Sector Council to hear about the launch of their new initiative ‘Pet Know How’ which aims to help educate prospective owners before they buy reptiles. “Reptiles, like so many other pets, can be extremely rewarding for their owners. However, they often have specialist needs when it comes to things like housing, nutrition, and enrichment,” said Helen.

“Rehoming reptiles can be unsettling for the animal and is often upsetting for the owner, who with the right guidance and support, may feel more confident and empowered to keep the pet and provide a good home. “Given the findings from my research, I believe that education is a key aspect of protecting wider reptile welfare and I’m very much in support of this new initiative from the Companion Animal Sector Council” she added.

Research carried out by Hartpury and submitted as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 earlier this year, was recognised as ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’. In results released as part of the Knowledge Exchange Framework 2022, Hartpury was also named as the no. 1 specialist STEM university for local growth and regeneration.

This exciting new online postgraduate degree has been designed to meet emerging animal welfare challenges linked to the UK legal system. Students learn how animal welfare legislation is developed, what it means when put into real-world contexts and how scientific developments may change the way it is applied. Hartpury is home to an animal collection with over 70 species, research laboratories, access to a commercial farm and equine centre, providing students with a chance to gain work experience and a better understanding of animal welfare, behaviour and management. This, combined with a high quality education, can make a significant difference to the graduate prospects of students (97% of students surveyed as part of Graduate Outcomes 2022 are in work, further study or other meaningful activity). Hartpury University was also recognised in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023, placed in the top 6 for Teaching Quality, enhanced by lecturers such as Helen Tedds who are engaged with industry in areas including research.

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