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Buying a reptile, amphibian or fish as a pet

Advice and guidance if you're buying a reptile, amphibian or fish as a pet

Types of pet

Reptiles you can keep as a pet include:

  • snakes
  • lizards
  • turtles
  • tortoises

Amphibians include:

  • frogs
  • toads
  • newts

Types of fish include:

  • goldfish
  • tropical fish
  • marine fish

Advice you should receive

If you purchase a reptile, amphibian or fish from a licensed pet shop, they should have their licence on display at the premises. And you should receive:

  • advice specific to the species
  • literature to take home

They should provide information on the appropriate care of the pet, including information about:

  • feeding
  • housing
  • handling
  • husbandry
  • life expectancy

You should be informed of the:

  • country of origin and the species
  • age
  • sex
  • veterinary record

What you should consider

Consider the space requirements and particular enclosure sizes for the type of pet. Also consider:

  • if they look healthy 
  • if the enclosures are clean
  • if they look like they have adequate space, food, clean water and heating (if applicable)

Reptiles, amphibians and fish are sometimes purchased from non-licensable sources. Due to the relatively low costs, and sometimes lack of advertising, these premises would not come under the business test.

You can find out further information on the DEFRA selling animals as pets guidance page.

If you're concerned for the welfare of any animals in pets shops please email