After being illegal for 40 years, state authorities announced on Thursday that reptiles including 19 types of snakes, lizards and turtles can now be held as pets in Norway. It seems the authorities gave up trying to stop the smuggling that’s gone on during the decades with the ban.
Norway and Iceland have been the only two countries in Europe with a ban on reptiles, based on health and environmental concerns. It’s estimated that as many as 100,000 reptiles can nonetheless be found in Norway after being smuggled over the border by reptile lovers.
Now the authorities at Mattilsynet, with the government’s consent, are recognizing that the ban was not respected and is difficult to enforce. Ending the ban, they believe, can actually improve animal welfare because reptile owners will no longer be afraid to seek the help of veterinarians if their pet becomes ill.
Animal rights activists, however, were not pleased. “We’re quite disappointed,” said Live Kleveland of Dyrevernalliansen, “that the government is legalizing these animals that can never have a good life in captivity.” She also expressed concerns about “serious infection danger,” and feared smuggling would continue.