A caged iguana for sale

Veterinarians, Scientists, and Other Animal Welfare Organizations Join Our Campaign Urging PetSmart to Stop Selling Wild Animals



Our coalition is calling on PetSmart to stop participating in the wildlife trade by ending the sale of reptiles and amphibians because it causes harm to animals, the environment, and humans alike.

On May 3, we sent our latest letter to PetSmart HQ. We have been asking the company to meet with us to discuss its role in the wildlife trade and to make it aware of our concerns. This time, our letter was signed by more than 20 animal welfare and environmental groups, veterinarians and scientists. You can read the letter here.

The range of voices in our coalition highlights that the reptile and amphibian trade is an issue that goes beyond animal welfare. This trade affects millions of animals each year and high mortality rates have been reported throughout the supply chain. Furthermore, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that these animals do not make good pets since captivity will always bring a level of suffering, no matter how hard owners try. 

Adrian Walton, a Canadian exotic animal veterinarian sees the impact first-hand at his clinic: 

“My experience is that 95% of owners have bought their reptilian pet on a whim. These animals initially are lavished with attention and handling, something that most reptiles don’t really appreciate. With time, that new feeling, that level of interest fades and the animal becomes something that sits in that tank over in the corner. As a veterinarian, I see these animals when the medical conditions have deteriorated so far that the animal comes in a walking skeleton. Something that has been slowly developing over the last 6 to 12 months will not be an easy fix and sadly euthanasia is often the most humane solution. Too often we see people who come in with their sick animal but once they have returned home, their pre-made recheck appointments are abandoned, or they just never come back. The ones I euthanize are the lucky ones, the rest often die painful slow deaths in that tank over in the corner.” 

Environmental groups are equally concerned with the trade from an ecological perspective. If companies, governments, and people continue to exploit animals and their habitats we stand to lose over one million species. PetSmart sells animals who are under pressure of survival in the wild. While most animals at PetSmart might be captive bred, there is strong evidence that suggests that captive breeding continues the vicious cycle of capturing animals from the wild. 

As Marc Bekoff Ph.D., Professor emeritus, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder puts it:  

“Reptiles and amphibians are sentient beings and aren’t ‘easy pets’ as so many people think they are. They might not look or act like other companion animals with whom we’re more familiar such as dogs and cats, but they require a lot of specialized care and aren’t at all simplistic or unfeeling creatures. It would be a good move for PetSmart to stop selling these remarkable animals as throwaway pets because it misrepresents them and the needs they have to be content and live good lives.” 

We spoke with Sarah Uhlemann, international program director with the Center for Biological Diversity: 

“The world is in the midst of a heartbreaking extinction crisis. Yet turtles, snakes, chameleons, and frogs continue to be plucked from their wild habitats around the globe for the U.S. and Canadian pet trade, threatening many species with extinction. PetSmart should end the sale of reptiles and amphibians as we work to stem this crisis.”

With the support of this broad coalition, we will continue to engage with PetSmart to talk about how it can become a true champion for animals by ending its participation in the wildlife trade. 

Coalition members:

More about