Ask An Expert: Can I Have A Pet Snake? - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Ask An Expert: Can I Have A Pet Snake?

Ask An Expert: Can I Have A Pet Snake?

Published July 11, 2017

If you’re some sort of snake-man hybrid looking to emigrate to Iceland, we’re afraid it’s bad news. In this country, it’s against regulations to have a pet snake, turtle or lizard. We asked Þorvaldur Þórðarson, Manager of Import and Export at the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, to explain why:

“The import of live animals to Iceland is prohibited in order to maintain good disease status as a result of the geographical isolation of the country.

“The ban applies to all snakes and most reptiles.”

But why? Following the success of the hit 1990s TV show ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, sales hit the roof. Later that decade in Iceland, a turtle infected its owners with Salmonella.

“The main reason why snakes and turtles are banned is because they are a common source of Salmonella,” explains Þorvaldur—and the infection can be deadly. But, if you do see a lizard, don’t call the cops. A few reptiles exist in Iceland as “exceptions are made for certain pets under certain conditions.”

The import of animals is a complicated business as many carry bacteria and disease. If you plan to bring your pet on holiday, know that in Iceland all animals—including dogs, cats and rodents—must carry a permit or risk being destroyed. According to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, you also need a permit to import “deep-frozen dog semen.” Gross.

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