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Progressive Report on Possible Alternative Marking Methods for Juvenile Tortoises, Reptiles Etc

Defra recently let a research contract with their Scientific Advisers, JNCC, to look into possible methods of identifying small/juvenile Annex A specimens of tortoises, reptiles, etc. This would then provide the opportunity of issuing Specimen Specific Certificates (SSCs) from the moment of hatching rather than the current practice of issuing Transaction Specific Certificates (TSCs) until such time as specimens became big enough to be safely implanted with a microchip meeting ISO standard 11784 and 11785.

The practice of only issuing TSCs for such creatures (predominantly tortoises, small snakes, lizards, frogs etc) has been a cost to industry as every sale has required a new certificate at a cost of £25. Nevertheless, due to the legislative requirements of the EU Regulations, the Management Authority has been unable to issue SSCs until the animals can be marked.

The research contract concluded that a company currently manufacturing extremely small microchips - already used by Jersey Zoo to mark some of their smallest frog specimens - offered a viable and safe option to the traditional microchip. These microchips could be safely implanted in the smallest of specimens thus allowing the “permanent marking” requirement to be met and thus allowing the Management Authority to issue one certificate for the life of the specimen.

There would be a number of benefits in this:

  • Reduction in overall costs for the pet trade
  • Enhancement of overall security and reduction in opportunities for illegal trade
  • Potential harmonisation of marking for species throughout the EU; and
  • Reduction in the volume of certificates issued thereby reducing costs for the Management Authority

However, before we can implement such a scheme we have to get EU agreement. This will probably hinge around getting ISO accreditation for the proposed micro-chips. This is the stage we have currently reached, and any further progress will be reported through our website and through contributions to the relevant trade and species associations newsletters.

Page last modified: 22 December, 2010