Top Canadian Importers of Wild Reptiles
The end-use for most live reptiles imported into Canada is to serve as exotic pets. Over two-thirds of legally imported reptiles arrive in Canada from the United States.
According to the 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, 4.7 million U.S. households own one or more live reptiles as pets. This amounts to 13.6 million pet reptiles in the United States alone.
The Canadian reptile trade is not nearly as large as that in America. In his analysis titled ‘Scales and Tails – The Welfare and Trade of Reptiles Kept as Pets in Canada’, Rob Laidlaw estimates that many thousands of reptiles are sold annually to Canadian pet owners.
Two paragraphs later, author Laidlaw quotes an executive director from the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Center who admits that there are no credible statistics on the number of exotic animals brought into Canada.
Permits Required for Imported Reptiles
Turtles and tortoises require an import permit before delivery in Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) governs those permits principally because of potential diseases that the imported lizards could bring into Canada.
Any reptile species on the potentially endangered species lists from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) also can only be cleared with a special import permit.
Live reptiles with import permits are tracked by Statistics Canada, so at least those numbers are available.
Top Importers of Live Reptiles into Canada
The following 7 Canadian companies accounted for 80% of the over $1 million worth of live reptiles legally imported into Canada in 2009.
- Little Fish Aquatics/The Little Fish Company (Surrey, British Columbia)
- Massassauga Imports (Acton, Ontario)
- Mirdo Importations Canada (Montréal, Québec)
- Port Credit Pet Centre/National Reptile Supply (Mississauga, Ontario)
- Reptics XS (Les Cèdres, Québec)
- Reptile Amazone (Montréal, Québec)
- The Urban Reptile (Woodbridge, Ontario)
The top 3 importing countries were responsible for 60% of the overall total.
The above companies are not end users of the imported live reptiles. Instead, they buy the reptiles at wholesale prices for resale to Canadian consumers.
Three of the reptile importing companies are in the central province of Ontario, two others are in neighboring Québec while Little Fish Aquatics (also known as The Little Fish Company) is in the west coast province of British Columbia.
Reptile Importer Websites
Among the top 7 import companies, only Reptics XS does not have a website to sell its live reptiles online. The Québec firm does use Twitter to market its products, however.
The most detailed website belongs to Port Credit Pet Centre. Available reptiles, feeders and supplies are all listed with photos and text descriptions. Their Spotlight section highlights different species of reptiles, like the red footed tortoise which is a protected breed under CITES. Also included are prices on available reptiles; baby red footed tortoises are listed at C$395.
In contrast, Massasauga Imports has a sparser website that emphasizes contact information.
Only registered members with a user name and password can view product and service information on the Mirdo Importations website.
The Urban Reptile home page gives visitors the choice of visiting two other domains, either the Urban Gecko or the Urban Python. Both sites list available geckos and pythons for sale with prices and photographs.
Reptile Amazone’s website presents the least information, giving only its retail and wholesale store address, hours and contact information.
The Little Fish Company website looks like a personalized blog. And, the website also has customer-friendly features. These include a photo gallery of reptiles and amphibians for sale with corresponding prices. There is also an online feature for tracking purchases shipped via 10 different transportation companies.