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Inspection Details - Selling Animals as Pets

Part A - General Conditions

1.0Licence Display

The licence must be displayed in a public-facing area of the premises such as the entrance or reception area.

A copy of the licence must also be taken to exhibits when these are held at other locations.

1.1A copy of the licence must be clearly and prominently displayed on any premises used for the licensable activity.
1.2The name of the licence holder followed by the number of the licence holder's licence must be clearly and prominently displayed on any website used in respect of the licensable activity.
2.0RecordsElectronic records must be backed up
2.1The licence holder must ensure that at any time all the records that the licence holder is required to keep as a condition of the licence are available for inspection by an inspector in a visible and legible form or, where any such records are stored in electronic form, in a form from which they can readily be produced in a visible and legible form.
2.2The licence holder must keep all such records for at least three years beginning with the date on which the record was created.
3.0Use, number and type of animal
3.1No animals or types of animal other than those animals and types of animal specified in the licence may be used in relation to the relevant licensable activity.

No types of animals other than those specified in the licence, can be stocked for the purposes of the activity.

For reptiles, amphibians, fish, and rodent groups this can be groups of species (e.g. tropical fish, snakes, newts, hamsters, gerbils)

3.2The number of animals kept for the activity at any time must not exceed the maximum that is reasonable taking into account the facilities and staffing on any premises used for the licensable activity.

The licence conditions must state the numbers for each species or species group that may be kept on the premises, except for fish. Undeclared breach of these numbers can invalidate the licence, especially if not reflected in increased staffing levels.

Except for fish, the stocking densities for each taxa group are given in the relevant annexes and must be adhered to.


Sufficient numbers of people competent for the purpose must be available to provide a level of care that ensures that the welfare needs of all the animals are met.

No animal must be stocked or sold unless the staff or at least one member of staff on site during opening hours is familiar with the care and welfare of the animals stocked and has a recognised qualification and/or can demonstrate suitable experience/ training.

Where there is evidence that the welfare needs of the animals are not being met, the inspector must consider if the staffing levels are appropriate. Staffing levels can in part be influenced by site specific and automated processes.

Licence holders keeping venomous species hazardous to human health must ensure that sufficient staff are trained or have experience in the species management.

Written instructions must be provided for staff on the provision of health care and the procedures to be followed in the event of an incident involving any venomous animal and a visitor or staff member.

4.2The licence holder or a designated manager and any staff employed to care for the animals must have competence to identify the normal behaviour of the species for which they are caring. They must be able  to recognise signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour. They must take appropriate measures to mitigate or prevent pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour.

Animals must be handled/cared for by staff who possess the appropriate ability, knowledge and professional competence. This can be demonstrated by holding or being registered for an OFQUAL regulated Level 2 qualification that is appropriate to the species kept, by having undertaken relevant industry recognised training or an in-store training programme or based on experience.

Individuals undertaking an OFQUAL regulated qualification must have suitably progressed in 12 months and have completed the qualification within two years.

Higher StandardThere must be a member of permanent, full-time staff with an OFQUAL regulated Level 3 qualification that is appropriate to the species kept.


The licence holder must provide and ensure the implementation of a written training policy for all staff.


The training policy must be reviewed and updated on an annual basis and must include:

  • annual appraisal
  • planned continued professional development
  • recognition of knowledge gaps
  • Use of online courses and literature
  • If no staff are employed the licence holder must demonstrate their own knowledge development.

It will be applicable to any members of staff and can be shown by engagement with courses, written or online learning, keeping up to date with any research or developments for specific species and the documentation of the annual appraisal.

Evidence of staff attendance or completion of the training must be provided.

5.0Suitable Environment

All areas, equipment and appliances to which the animals have access must present minimal risks of injury, illness and escape. They must be constructed in materials that are robust, safe and durable, in a good state of repair and well maintained.

All licence holders must be able to demonstrate that both environmental and biosecurity, including zoonotic disease, risks have been considered in the enclosure selection and use.

Drainage in enclosures, activity areas, passageways and preparation areas must be adequate to reduce the risk of pathogens associated with standing water.

Housing must be secure in order to prevent injuries and reduce risk of disease transmission.

Structural integrity must be maintained and housing designed to ensure dry, easily cleansed surfaces (including junctions) for non-aquatic species. Materials must be non-toxic and constructed of non-porous materials, or be appropriately treated.

Accommodation must be regularly inspected for damage and potential injury or escape points. Damaged accommodation must be repaired or replaced immediately.

Hazards must be minimised in accommodation. There must be no projections or rough edges liable to cause injury. No electrical cables must be within reach of any animal that could chew or damage them.


Animals must be kept at all times in an environment suitable to their species and condition (including health status and age) with respect to 

(a) their behavioural needs,

(b) its situation, space, air quality, cleanliness and temperature

(c) the water quality (where relevant),

(d) noise levels

(e) light levels

(f) ventilation.

For businesses selling animals exclusively to other businesses, there are no currently agreed standards for cage sizes and stocking densities, and so businesses must provide evidence to demonstrate that welfare is being met with reference to the guidance in the rest of this document. Set standards will be developed. This does not apply to businesses selling dogs and cats which must follow the accommodation sizes stipulated in the guidance.

Animals must be able to move around freely climb, fly, swim or jump where appropriate, and exhibit normal behaviour in their environment.

Accommodation must provide shelter from adverse environmental conditions and predators.

Enclosure size must be appropriate to the species, adjusted according to its size as the animal grows and where animals are kept communally any change in group dynamics may require separation or larger enclosures.

Whilst offered for sale the business is considered a short-term transitional holding facility. Acceptable enclosure sizes may be smaller than those intended for long term husbandry, and are outlined for each taxonomic group within the individual schedules with regard to specific stocking densities. The transitional period is considered to be no more than three months from the date of arrival.

If retained for longer or permanently then the animal must be moved to an enclosure size representing current best practice for the individual species comparable with that expected to be found with the final purchaser, at a minimum this must be equivalent, or preferably larger, to those described in the higher standard minimum enclosure size for each species where specified.

Higher StandardBusinesses selling animals exclusively to other businesses must meet the cage sizes and stocking densities as stipulated in the species-specific minimum standards.

Staff must ensure that the animals are kept clean and comfortable.

Where accommodation is on a tiered system, water, food or waste products must not be allowed to contaminate lower levels. In certain systems, such as aquaria or mixed-species aviaries, where isolation is inappropriate, waste must be adequately managed to prevent contamination of food and water.

5.4Where appropriate for the species, a toileting area and opportunities for toileting must be provided.


5.5Procedures must be in place to ensure accommodation and any equipment within it is cleaned as often as necessary and good hygiene standards are maintained. The accommodation must be capable of being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Accommodation must be cleaned and disinfected with products effective against likely pathogens. At normal usage levels, disinfectants must be non-toxic to the species housed, used at an appropriate dilution factor and as per the manufacturer's instructions, with appropriate timed separation between disinfection and (re)introduction of livestock observed.

Soiled bedding must be removed in a timely fashion and immediately replaced.

Empty enclosures must be fully cleaned, disinfected and allowed to dry when vacated and before new stock arrives. Substrate must be replaced as appropriate, and enclosure fixtures and fittings must be adequately disinfected.

Enclosures must be spot-cleaned at least daily and as necessary, unless this has negative effects on the welfare of the animals.


The animals must be transported and handled in a manner (including for example in relation to housing, temperature, ventilation and frequency) that protects them from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Injured, diseased or ill animals must not be transported unless being taken to a veterinarian, quarantine or isolation facility. In these situations, there must be barriers between containers to reduce the transmission of disease, where applicable, and the vehicle and equipment must be appropriately disinfected following transportation.

Any animals received or consigned must be transported according to the regulations laid down in current legislation.

Predators and prey must not be kept within sight, sound or smell during transport.

Vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected after each collection/delivery.

Animals must be transported in suitable containers and must not be mixed with different species or unfamiliar animals. Where a number of animals are mixed in the same container then it must be of an appropriate size to prevent overcrowding.

Animals must not be left in vehicles for unreasonable periods and must never be left unattended in a car or other vehicle when the temperature may pose a risk to the animal.


All the animals must be easily accessible to staff and for inspection. There must be sufficient light for the staff to work effectively and observe the animals.

Consideration must be given to the specific requirements of nocturnal species.

In order to avoid exposure to direct sunlight, inappropriate heat levels or stressful stimuli, animals must not be placed on display in windows on external aspects.

Enclosures must allow for daily visual inspection, with minimal disturbance to the animal, unless increased frequency is required for the species (see relevant Schedules).


All resources must be provided in a way (for example as regards. frequency, location and access points) that minimises competitive behaviour or the dominance of individual animals.

Staff must be trained to recognise signs of group disruption (e.g. competition and aggression), which could compromise animal welfare.

Resources include, but are not limited to: food, water, enrichment items and resting/sleeping areas.

There must be sufficient resources for each individual animal in any shared enclosure to minimise dominance, and where this is identified, additional resources must be provided. Dominant animals should be removed where appropriate.

Feeding and / or play must be separate or supervised where necessary.


The animals must not be left unattended in any situation or for any period likely to cause them distress.


6.0Suitable Diet 

The animals must be provided with a suitable diet in terms of quality, quantity and frequency. Any new feeds must be introduced gradually to allow the animals to adjust to them.

The feeding of live vertebrate prey should be carried out only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. non-feeding snake). This must be on an individual animal basis for specified animals only. A written justification must have been completed, be made available to inspectors, and be agreed by senior staff, including veterinary advice, weighing up the welfare of predator and prey. Live feeding must be observed by a competent staff member and uneaten prey removed in a timely manner. Such feeding must not take place in the presence of the public.

The quantity, frequency, delivery and type of food must be determined by what is appropriate for the species and the individual's behavioural and nutritional needs. Staff must have knowledge of the requirements for all the species held for which they are responsible. The purchaser must be advised to continue feeding the diet given by the licence holder initially.

Food supplements, including vitamins and minerals, must be provided if necessary at the correct dosage for the individual species and in a form appropriate to ensure adequate supplementation is delivered to the target species.

Fresh foods must be kept refrigerated where appropriate. Frozen foods intended for use must be stored in an appropriate deep freeze and defrosted thoroughly to room temperature before use.

Live food intended for use must be housed in suitable escape proof containers. Live food, if uneaten in a short period, must be removed where it may pose a risk to the species housed e.g. crickets biting reptiles.


Feed and (where appropriate) water intake must be monitored, and any problems recorded and addressed.

Significant weight loss or gain must be assessed by a competent person. Where the underlying reason cannot be identified and/or remedial measures have been unsuccessful, the animal must be assessed by a veterinarian. If it is housed as part of a social group, the establishment must have the ability to isolate an individual to ascertain whether it is eating or not

Abnormalities in eating and/or drinking habits must be recorded, reported to the appropriate member of staff and acted upon. Appropriate veterinary advice must be sought if necessary.

For small mammals, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds, if there is no improvement in food intake within 12 hours following remedial action by a competent person or the condition of the individual deteriorates a veterinarian must be consulted without delay.


Feed and drinking water provided to the animals must be unspoilt and free from contamination.

Spoilt perishable food stuffs must be removed as soon as noted and within 24 hours of being supplied.

Refrigeration facilities for feed storage must be provided. High risk feeds (such as cooked or raw meat and fish, or dairy products) and the remains of opened tins or pouches must be stored in covered, non-metal, leakproof containers in the fridge.

6.4Feed and drinking receptacles must be capable of being cleaned and disinfected, or disposable.

Water and food bowls must be checked daily, cleaned daily as appropriate and disinfected at least weekly.


Constant access to fresh, clean drinking water must be provided in a suitable receptacle for the species that requires it.

Raptors should be provided daily with fresh clean water in a bath but it should be withdrawn during freezing weather, where they are kept outdoors, to avoid health problems.

Fresh clean water must be available at all times, except for those species where it may be harmful and during the transitional period when water supplies are being changed e.g. when water bottles are removed for filling.

Water bottles must be free flowing and free from leakages and blockages.

Water must be located away from the sleeping area to help prevent this becoming damp or waterlogged if the bottle leaks.


Where feed is prepared on the premises, there must be hygienic facilities for its preparation, including a working surface, hot and cold running water and storage.

Human and animal food preparation must not take place in shared preparation areas at the same time or using shared utensils.

Where fresh food is used there must be refrigeration facilities.

Staff must not use receptacles for food and drink for any other purposes.

Staff must observe strict standards of personal hygiene and should conform to good hygiene practice in the preparation of food, having due regard to the risk of cross contamination between equipment, utensils and surfaces. There must be appropriate disinfectants available to clean the food preparation area immediately following its use.

Food must be protected against dampness, deterioration, mould or from contamination by insects, birds, vermin or other pests.

The food preparation area must be kept clean and vermin free.

7.0Monitoring of behaviour and training of animals

Active and effective environmental enrichment must be provided to the animals in inside and any outside environments.

Accessories must be disposable or be disinfected between animals.

Environmental enrichment accessories which stimulate natural behaviour must be provided as appropriate to the species maintained. These must not have the potential to cause injury and must be replaced if damaged.

As appropriate to the species, enrichment devices must be changed on a regular basis to introduce novelty and maintain interest. When adding new enrichment devices, staff must ensure that the animal is closely monitored for signs of distress.


For species whose welfare depends partly on exercise, opportunities to exercise which benefit the animals' physical and mental health must be provided, unless advice from a veterinarian suggests otherwise.


Animals must be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns and this may require the provision of additional suitable space for exercise.

All animals must have daily exercise, as appropriate for species, age, ability and physical capability. Animals convalescing or within a resting or quarantine period should be allowed rest and exercise may be provided after this.

Animals which cannot be exercised for veterinary reasons must be provided with additional enrichment.


The animals' behaviour and any changes of behaviour must be monitored. Advice must be sought, as appropriate and without delay, from a veterinarian or, in the case of fish, any person competent to give such advice if adverse or abnormal behaviour is detected.


7.4Where used, training methods or equipment must not cause pain, suffering or injury.Training must be based on the principles of positive reinforcement (i.e. reward desired behaviour and ignore unwanted behaviour)

All immature animals must be given suitable and adequate opportunities to:

  • learn how to interact with people, their own species and other animals where such interaction benefits their welfare, and;
  • become habituated to noises, objects and activities in their environment.

Where there is demonstrable welfare benefit, young animals must be adequately and appropriately socialised and habituated, by appropriately knowledgeable staff, to prevent fear behaviour towards, for example, people, animals, situations and environments they are likely to encounter in their adult lives.

8.0Animal Handling and Interactions

All people responsible for the care of the animals must be competent in the appropriate handling of each animal to protect it from pain, suffering, injury or disease.

Animals which may be aggressive must only be handled by, or in the presence of, competent staff.

Where a customer or client is handling an animal, a competent member of staff must ensure the interaction is appropriate and is stopped if the animal shows sign of fear, suffering or fatigue.

Customers, especially children, handling animals prior to purchase must be supervised and offered facilities (and encouraged) to clean their hands before and afterwards (e.g. hand sanitisers). Where gross faecal or urinary contamination is present customers must be offered facilities to wash their hands.


The animals must be kept separately or in suitable compatible social groups appropriate to the species and individual animals. No animals from a social species may be isolated or separated from others of their species for any longer than is necessary.

Where appropriate, all animals must be housed in social groups of suitable size. Group-housed animals must be monitored for any signs of group disruption and remedial action taken, and documented without delay.

Acceptable reasons for isolation/separation of social species if remedial action has not been successful are demonstrable risk of disease, injury or danger/stress.

Where appropriate for the species, to help avoid unwanted litters, all animals must be sexed immediately on arrival in the premises and housed in single sex groups unless this would compromise welfare e.g. a litter of puppies.

8.3The animals must have at least daily opportunities to interact with people where such interaction benefits their welfare.

Animals must never be forced to interact with people, and must have a facility to avoid people, i.e. have access to a hiding place, unless this would adversely impact their welfare.

Interaction includes handling and non-physical interactions with people.

9.0Protection from Pain, Suffering, Injury and Disease 

Written procedures must:

  • (a) be in place and implemented covering:
    • i. feeding regimes,
    • ii. cleaning regimes,
    • iii. transportation
    • iv. the prevention of, and control of the spread of, disease,
    • v. monitoring and ensuring the health and welfare of all the animals,
    • vi. the death or escape of an animal (including the storage of dead animals);
  • (b) be in place covering the care of the animals following the suspension or revocation of the licence or during and following an emergency.

Written procedures should be proportional to the size, and reflect the complexity, of the business. The written procedures must be made available to the inspectors and all people responsible for the care of the animals must be made fully aware of these procedures.

The procedures must demonstrate how the conditions outlined in this guidance are met.

9.2All people responsible for the care of the animals must be made fully aware of these procedures. 

Appropriate isolation, in separate self-contained facilities, must be available for the care of sick, injured or potentially infectious animals.

Where infectious disease is present on the premises, barrier nursing procedures must be implemented. This includes use of protective clothing and footwear (where applicable) changed between enclosures; separate storage of equipment, including cleaning utensils, and segregation of waste.

Isolated animals must be kept in a secure, comfortable location where their condition and needs can be monitored, and a record kept of their treatment.

Provision must be made for the isolation of sick/injured/infectious animals and those that might reasonably be expected to be carrying serious infectious diseases.

Adequate isolation facilities may be on site or at another location, such as a local veterinary practice or through specific changes in management practices demonstrated by written procedures. If the isolation facility is at another location, such as a local veterinary practice a letter must be provided by the practice stating that they are prepared to provide such facilities.

Sick animals must not be handled by members of the public.


All reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent and control the spread among the animals and people of infectious diseases, pathogens and parasites.

Signage, care information and/or staff must inform customers about the risks of infectious disease transmission.

An animal which is suffering from, or could reasonably be suspected of having come into contact with any other animal suffering from any infectious or contagious disease or which is clinically infested with parasites, must not be brought into or kept on the premises unless effectively isolated.


All excreta and soiled bedding for disposal must be stored and disposed of in a hygienic manner and in accordance with any relevant legislation.

All excreta and soiled bedding must be stored away from where food and animals are kept.

All excreta and soiled bedding for disposal must be kept in a hygienic manner. Excreta and soiled bedding must be removed from the premises on a regular basis, at least weekly. It must be disposed of to the satisfaction of the appropriate local authority, and in accordance with current regulations and good waste management practice.

9.6Sick or injured animals must receive prompt attention from a veterinarian or, in the case of fish, an appropriately competent person. The advice of that veterinarian or, in the case of fish, that competent person must be followed.

Any sick or injured animal must receive appropriate care and treatment without delay. These must only be treated by appropriately competent staff or veterinarians. "Care and treatment" may include euthanasia.

Where any animal shows any sign of disease, injury or illness it must be kept separate from the other animals and veterinary advice, or that of a competent person's in the case of fish, must be sought within 24 hours, unless otherwise stated in taxa specific Schedules. Any instructions for its treatment must be strictly followed.

9.7Where necessary, animals must receive preventative treatment by an appropriately competent person. 
9.8The licence holder must register with a veterinarian with an appropriate level of experience in the health and welfare requirements of any animals specified in the licence. The contact details of that veterinarian must be readily available to all staff on the premises used for the licensable activity.

The name, address and telephone contact number, including out of hours provision, of the veterinary practice used by the establishment must be easily available to all staff members.

Where there is a lack of local veterinary expertise with regard to the taxa being sold then a competent secondary veterinary practice must provide support to the primary practice as required.

9.9Prescribed medicines must be stored safely and securely to safeguard against unauthorised access, at the correct temperature, and used in accordance with the instructions of the veterinarian.

Any prescribed medication given must be prescribed for the individual animal by a veterinarian, and each instance of use must be recorded.

9.10Medicines other than prescribed medicines must be stored, used and disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer or veterinarian. 

Cleaning products must be suitable, safe and effective against pathogens that pose a risk to the animals. They must be used, stored and disposed of in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. They must be used in a way which prevents distress or suffering of the animals.

The compatibility of different bactericides, fungicides and virucides (if used together and/or with a detergent) must be considered.

Manufacturers' recommended guidelines for use, correct dilutions and contact time for use in cleaning and disinfection procedures must be followed.

Any equipment that has been used on an infectious or suspected infectious animal must be cleaned and disinfected after use.


No person may euthanise an animal except a veterinarian or a person who has been authorised by a veterinarian as competent for such purpose or

  1. in the case of fish, a person who is competent for such purpose;
  2. in the case of horses, a person who is competent, and who holds a licence or certificate, for such purpose.
  3. a person who has been authorised by a veterinarian as competent for such purpose

Under no circumstances may an animal be euthanised other than in a humane and effective manner. In case of doubt as to humane and effective methods, veterinary advice must be sought.

Where euthanasia is not carried out by, or under the direct supervision of, a veterinarian the rationale for why the animal was euthanised, the method deployed and the member of staff carrying out the euthanasia must be recorded and records made available at subsequent inspections. This does not apply to fish.

Where a licence holder is breeding or purchasing live vertebrate animals that are to be euthanised for the purpose of feeding to other stock held on the premises the method of euthanasia must be assessed by a veterinarian and signed off as to the satisfaction of the veterinarian that the method is humane and effective, and continues to be so. The method of euthanasia must be safe and humane for both the culled animal and the animal being fed.

9.13All animals must be checked at least once daily or more regularly as necessary to check for any signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour. Vulnerable animals must be checked more frequently. Any signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour must be recorded and the advice and further advice (if necessary) of a veterinarian (or in the case of fish, of an appropriately competent person) must be sought and followed.

Checks must not cause unnecessary stress or disturbance. Visual checks are acceptable.

A system of recording abnormalities must be maintained.

Where necessary for specific species, vulnerable animals, such as young, whelping, sick or injured animals, must be checked more frequently than the minimum once daily.

9.14Any signs of pain, suffering, injury, disease or abnormal behaviour must be recorded and the advice and further advice (if necessary) of a veterinarian (or in the case of fish, of an appropriately competent person) must be sought and followed.



A written emergency plan, acceptable to the local authority, must be in place. It must be known and available to all the people on the premises used for the licensable activity, and followed where necessary. It must ensure appropriate steps are taken to protect all the people and animals on the premises in case of fire or in case of breakdowns for essential heating, ventilation and aeration or filtration systems or other emergencies.

The emergency plan must include a list of any listed species on the current Schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act held on site, where applicable, and the specific action plan for their safe removal and immediate appropriate rehoming in the case of emergency.

Entrances and fire exits must be clear of obstructions at all times.

All electrical installations must be installed by appropriately qualified persons and maintained in a safe condition; and sited such that they do not present a risk. There must be an effective contingency plan for essential heating, ventilation and aeration/ filtration systems, as appropriate.

All equipment must be maintained in a good state of repair and serviced according to manufacturer's guidelines. Suitable firefighting, prevention and detection equipment must be provided, maintained, regularly serviced and sited as advised by the local fire protection/prevention officer and approved by the Local Authority.

Staff must be aware of the emergency procedures and a copy must be displayed for staff to refer to as and when needed.

Suitable emergency response plans must cover arrangements for emergency evacuation, housing, husbandry and loss of power/water. Emergency evacuation must detail how and by what means animals, staff and the public should evacuate the establishment, identify designated fire assembly points, designated holding areas for animals and which animals can and cannot be evacuated (such as aquaria and ponds).

Consideration must be given to using systems which would allow timely removal of the animals in the case of emergency. Where emergencies are potentially life threatening, humans must not be put at risk attempting to remove animals.

Emergency plans must also include consideration of business continuity management including steps to be taken in the case of life support failure, power cut or other utility failures that will have direct impacts on animal welfare.

Emergency drills must be regularly practised and practices recorded with any failings noted and addressed in the procedures. Drills must be undertaken at least annually, or as determined by fire risk assessments.

All staff must undergo regular training and records must be kept of such training. Sufficient nominated staff must be properly trained on the use of equipment provided.


The plan must include details of the emergency measures to be taken for the extrication of the animals should the premises become uninhabitable.

An emergency telephone list that includes the fire service and police should also be included.

10.3External doors and gates must be lockable. 
10.4A designated key holder with access to all animal areas must at all times be within reasonable travel distance of the premises and available to attend in an emergency.

A reasonable distance would, in normal conditions, be interpreted as no more than 30 minutes travelling time.

When the licensed premises are sited within other premises, the licensee or key holders must have access at all times to the premises containing the animals.

Part B - Specific Conditions

1.0Records and advertisements

A register must be maintained for all the animals or, in the case of fish, all the groups of fish, on the premises. The register where they are kept for sale which must include:

  • (a) the full name of the supplier of the animal,
  • (b) the animal's sex (where known),
  • (c) (except in the case of fish) the animal's age (where known),
  • (d) details of any veterinary treatment (where known),
  • (e) the date of birth of the animal or, if the animal was acquired by the licence holder, the date of its acquisition,
  • (f) the date of sale of the animal by the licence holder, and
  • (g) the date of the animal's death (if applicable).

The register can be a stand-alone dedicated document or can be collated invoices and proof of sales receipts that allows an accurate representation of acquisitions and sales. This can be a centralised system but must be accessible in store.

Deaths can be recorded as part of daily observational records or as a stand-alone document.

Actions taken following any unusual mortality must also be recorded. For fish, deaths should be recorded when mortality exceeds 5% of animals on site, over a 24-hour period. This register is confidential and must be reviewed on site and not routinely removed.

The register must contain sufficient detail as to allow identification of the source (i.e. the supplier) of the animals.

The register must be available for inspection by the appropriate authority


Where an animal is undergoing any medical treatment:

  • (a) this fact must be clearly indicated
    • (i) in writing next to it, or
    • (ii) (where appropriate) by labelling it accordingly, and
  • (b) it must not be sold.

Where treatment is administered as part of any preventative medicine protocols and there is no known disease or contact with known diseased animals then this is not considered an animal under treatment. e.g. worming treatment as part of new acquisition admission policies.

Any animal with an abnormality which would materially affect its quality of life must not be offered for sale. In instances where animals are being treated and it is in their best welfare interests to remain in their enclosure they can remain on display but must be clearly marked as under treatment.

When in doubt, veterinary advice must be sought.


Any advertisement for the sale of an animal must:

  • a. include the number of the licence holder's licence,
  • b. specify the local authority that issued the licence,
  • c. include a recognisable photograph of the animal being advertised,
  • d. (except in the case of fish) display the age of the animal being advertised,
  • e. state the country of residence of the animal from which it is being sold, and
  • f. state the country of origin of the animal.

An advert refers to those used to advertise an animal to the public. It does not include internal sales in store and business to business sales.

For dogs and cats a specific photograph must be used. For other species, a stock photograph of the species is considered acceptable.

The country of origin must refer to the country of birth of the specific animal. Where this is not known this can be the country of export of the specific animal.

2.0Prospective Sales: Pet care and advice
2.1The licence holder and all staff must ensure that any equipment and accessories being sold with an animal are suitable for the animal.

Any advice regarding accommodation size must exceed the minimum sizes outlined in this document. Advice on enclosure size should represent or exceed current higher standards as listed in the species specific schedules below when an animal is sold as a business to public sale.

Staff must be able to provide the correct advice regarding the suitability of items for sale on the premises.


The licence holder and all staff must ensure that the prospective owner is provided with information on the appropriate care of the animal including in relation to:

  • (a) feeding,
  • (b) housing,
  • (c) handling,
  • (d) husbandry,
  • (e) the life expectancy of its species,
  • (f) the provision of suitable accessories, and
  • (g) veterinary care.

Pet care leaflets or other similar written or electronic instructions, given at the point of sale to the public, in addition to outlining the Five Welfare Needs, must encourage responsible pet ownership and ideally make reference to an owner's obligations as per the Animal Welfare Act (2006).

Staff have the right to refuse a sale if they are concerned and/or are not satisfied to the best of their knowledge that the prospective owner is able to meet that animal's welfare needs.

Advice must be given on microchipping.


This must include advice on updating microchip registration, vaccinations, socialisation and neutering. A transitional feeding schedule must also be provided showing the day by day ratio if changing puppies on to a different food.

A puppy contract and puppy information pack must be provided at the point of sale.


This must include advice on, vaccinations, socialisation and neutering.

A transitional feeding schedule must also be provided showing the day by day ratio if changing kittens on to a different food

RabbitsWhere sold singly, the licence holder and/or staff must ask if the purchaser owns a suitable conspecific. If not, encourage them to purchase one, or check that they have a care plan in place for a single housed rabbit. This must also include advice on vaccinations and reproductive health care.
FerretsThis must include advice on vaccinations, socialisation and reproductive management. 
ReptilesAdvice must be given on environmental conditions.
2.3Appropriate reference materials on the care of all animals for sale must be on display and provided to the prospective ownerPet care leaflets or other similar written or electronic information must be made available to customers free of charge at the time of purchase, in addition to any offer to purchase pet care books or leaflets. Information can be in the form of Codes of Practice issued by governments and may also be made available electronically.
2.4The licence holder and all staff must have been suitably trained to advise prospective owners about the animals being sold. 

The licence holder and sales staff must ensure that the purchaser is informed of

  • the country of origin of the animal
  • the species
  • the age (where known)
  • sex (where known)
  • veterinary record

of the animal being sold.

This must also include whether the animal was wild caught or captive bred, where known.
3.0Suitable accommodation 

Animals must be kept in housing which minimises stress from other animals and the public.

The design and layout of the premises must allow animals to be able to control their visual access to surroundings and animals in other enclosures. It should also minimise the number of animals that staff disturb when removing any individual animal.

Care must be taken to avoid sensory contact between prey and predator species.

3.2Where members of the public can view or come into contact with the animals, signage must be in place to deter disturbance of the animals.

If animals are on public display, signs must be displayed on enclosures to deter members of the public from tapping on glass or poking fingers into cages.

Clear signage must be in place at all times outlining health and safety risk to customers and appropriate behaviour around animals on site relevant to the specific species. In addition to signs, other measures may be required, such as limiting access to some sides of animal enclosures.


Dangerous wild animals (if any) must be kept in enclosures that are secure and lockable and appropriate for the species

Although pet shops are exempt from the DWAA, consideration must be given to complying with any special requirement(s) specified in the DWAA for the safe accommodation and care of any DWAA listed animal.

When considering species listed on the Dangerous Wild Animal Act (DWAA) Schedule, licence holders must be able to demonstrate that the safety of staff and the public has been considered in the design of the enclosures, layout of the premises where the animals are kept, and in the design of any safety barriers that may be present. Design must also demonstrate that prevention of escape has been considered.

Licence holders selling animals on the Schedule to the DWAA must inform the purchaser that they require a licence under the DWAA and also inform the issuing authority of the details of the purchase.

4.0Purchase and sale of animals

The purchase, or sale, by or on behalf of the licence holder of any of the following is prohibited:

  • a) unweaned mammals;
  • b) mammals weaned at an age at which they should not have been weaned;
  • c) non-mammals that are incapable of feeding themselves;
  • d) puppies, cats, ferrets or rabbits, aged under 8 weeks.

Dogs, cats and ferrets must remain with their mother for the first eight weeks of life unless the mother dies or there is a health risk to the offspring from remaining with her. Where necessary, a veterinarian and/or certified clinical animal behaviourist may certify that it is in the best interests of the animal to be removed earlier.

4.2The sale of a dog must be completed in the presence of the purchaser on the premises. 
5.0Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease
5.1All animals for sale must be in good healthAnimals must be allowed to acclimatise before being offered for sale. Where animals are obtained for sale to a specific client it may be acceptable for the animal to be sold immediately.
Acclimatisation periods


Rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchilla2 - 3 days
Small mammals1 - 2 days
Birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishFeeding and behaving normally for the species
Higher standardA documented health checklist should be completed daily and must cover physical, psychological and behavioural issues and any abnormality recorded.
5.2Any animal with a condition which is likely to affect materially its quality of life must not be moved, transferred or offered for sale but may be moved to an isolation facility or veterinary care facility if required until the animal has recovered.


5.3When arranging for the receipt of animals, the licence holder must make reasonable efforts to ensure that they will be transported in a suitable manner. 
5.4Animals must be transported or handed to purchasers in suitable containers for the species and expected duration of the journey 


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