Vägledning för djurskyddskontroll av exotiska smådjur
Abstract: Exotic small animals that are commonly kept as pets include aquarium fish, cage and aviary birds, rodents, rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), reptiles and amphibians. These different kinds of animals, even species within the same class, may differ markedly from each other regarding physiology and requirements. Although these species are common in both Swedish households and in pet trade, many animal keepers have a lack of knowledge about the origin and requirements of their pets. This is a cause of several health problems seen in animals which are held in captivity. In Sweden, the county administrative boards perform all animal welfare controls. Thus, it is important for the animal welfare inspectors to have enough knowledge about the animals, to enable them to ensure a good animal welfare and to have the ability to explain to animal keepers why any occuring husbandry deficiencies is not acceptable. The control checklists with associated guidelines, produced by the Swedish Department of Agriculture and used by the animal welfare inspectors, are however relatively limited regarding exotic small animals, especially the aquarium fish. Even the Swedish animal welfare legislation (DFS 2005:8) is quite limited regarding these animals and needs improvement as well as being made more comprehensive. It should, for example, not be considered appropriate to house rabbits and guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) together since Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacteria often found in the respiratory tracts of healthy rabbits, may cause lung infections in guinea pigs. To improve the welfare of the exotic small animals kept by humans, more knowledge amongst animal keepers is required as well as an improvement of the Swedish animal welfare legislation and the material used by the Swedish county administrative boards during animal welfare controls. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to provide guidance for welfare controls of exotic small animals using the existing control checklists, produced by the Swedish Department of Agriculture, as models.
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