Interest in keeping axolotls has soared after the introduction of an animated version of the amphibian in the computer game Minecraft.
Now the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) has warned retail shops that it is currently illegal to import the creatures into Great Britain.
OATA says any shops looking to sell the amphibians should be aware of the regulations around their import and export. To import live amphibians of the order Caudata (such as salamanders and newts) the animals must be accompanied by the correct health certificates and import and export permits.
They must also be quarantined in a Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) registered appropriate establishment, however no such quarantine facilities have been authorised in Great Britain so any axolotls being sold here must also have been bred here.
Quarantine regulations have been in place since 2018 to prevent the spread of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), a pathogenic chytrid fungus that infects amphibian species.
A spokesperson said: “It is very important that our industry plays its part in combating this potential disease threat.”