5 November 2014

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) has joined forces with Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association (REPTA) to recommend that Asiatic newts and salamanders imported into the UK are held at 25°C for 10 days before they can be sold to the public.

The advice comes after Science magazine published new information about a species of fungus (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) deadly to European newts, first discover last year.

The scientific paper was published last Friday and both OATA and REPTA responded the same day with advice to their members to explain the situation. Along with the 10-day heated holding recommendation, the trade associations also reminded retailers about the need to talk to customers about good hygiene measures when cleaning out terrariums, particularly about not dumping swilling-out water on gardens, and about not releasing pets into the wild.

Co-author of the study Frank Pasmans, of Ghent University, welcomed the industry bodies’ quick response.

“The prompt response of the amphibian importing industry is very welcome and raises hope that prevention of entry of the fungus to regions that are currently free of this infection may be feasible,” he said.

OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport said: “As soon as we were made aware of the issues in this scientific paper we acted speedily to give recommendations to our members and we’re sure they will respond.

“The industry has a good record of acting on our advice, such as not selling invasive aquatic plants for years before DEFRA brought in an official ban last year.

“And our industry has played its part in helping to educate the public about not releasing pets into the wild. In fact, REPTA and OATA have created a Code of Practise for pet owners and retailers to offer advice on how to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species.

“We take our responsibilities very seriously and so were keen to get this advice out on the same day as we were made aware of the study.

“This is a simple measure for importers or retailers to implement for Asiatic newts only (not European or North American ones) and we’d advise customers to ask in shops about this before they buy newts and salamanders.”