New AAL guidance
New guidelines pertaining to the Animal Activities Licensing have been issued. These are due to come into force in February 2022.
Traders will be pleased to hear that there have been no significant changes. The way enclosure sizes are measured has changed, with the new guidelines being concerned with area, rather than lengths and widths. Also, the way tortoises are measured has been standardised with all guidance now referring to the plastron length – the straight-line measurement from the front to the back of the dorsal shell. The guidance also made changes to the definition of a ‘trader’ versus a ‘hobbyist’.
Sadly, the new guidance did not implement the Companion Animal Sector Council’s (CASC) guidelines for enclosure sizes which would have tidied up a lot of difficulties for snake keepers particularly. The requirements for large pythons and boas differ vastly from those of small burrowing snakes. A more nuanced approach is sorely needed, but this will apparently have to wait.
The new guidance will be available on the .gov website on February 1, but traders can get copies of the document from CASC, their trade association or their local authority.
And, while we’re on the subject, it’s worth knowing that a more thorough review of the AAL guidelines will occur in 2022/2023 as part of the customary five-year Post Implementation Review. This is when significant amendments will likely occur, with the process being debated from both sides of the table. Look out for new guidance in 2023.
A packed schedule of esteemed speakers will speak at the AAH/BHS conference on March 12-13. The conference takes place at Drayton Manor Theme Park over two days and will feature Dr Jonathon Howard (The Beardie Vet), Dr Hew Gollege from UFAW, Dr Gerardo Garcia from Chester Zoo and Robert Mendyk from Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, among many others.
Tickets are £30 for one day or £55 for two, including lunch and refreshments, access to trade stands and zoo tours.
Wash your hands
The Food Standards Agency has ordered a product recall of certain frozen rodents supplied by Monkfield Nutrition. The recall does not affect rodents from other sources or suppliers.
While this problem is significant and reptile keepers should always be considerate of salmonella, it’s worth noting that the risks and incidences of catching salmonella from keeping and feeding reptiles are relatively small and easily negated. It has long been known that reptiles and rodents carry salmonella. Risks can be negated by basic hygiene measures, specifically through washing hands and cleaning surfaces that have been in contact with reptiles or rodents.
Full guidance on the issue can be found on the Companion Animal Sector Council (CASC) website casc.org.uk.
Guy Van Heygen obituary
It was sad to hear of the death of Guy Van Heygen, father of Emmanuele Van Heygen, brand manager for Exo Terra. Guy was best known in the herp world for filming Exo Terra’s expedition films in remote areas of the world, but he was also instrumental in producing promotional content for Exo Terra too.
I only met Guy a handful of times, most often at the Terraristika reptile show in Hamm, Germany. He was always exceptionally friendly and kindly spoken. I know many in the trade will be sad to hear of his death.
My condolences to Emmanuele and his family.