Maple Ridge veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton with a dyeing blue frog that is legal to have as a pet in B.C. While it is a poison dart frog, they are only poisonous in the wild. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Uptick in people buying illegal amphibians causing concern for B.C. vet

Without permits, he can only send them to zoos.

Asking Santa Claus for a frog or a spotted salamander for Christmas?

Maple Ridge veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton wants you to know the rules about which is legal and illegal to have in the province.

Recently, he responded to a person’s query on Facebook about axolotls, a type of salamander, and wants to remind people that they are illegal to own in the province without a permit.

He said a large number of amphibians are illegal to own including all of the toads as well as all of the salamanders in the Ambystoma family.

While they are not considered controlled alien species under the B.C. Wildlife Act, according to the B.C. SPCA, they are designated as wildlife, which means that ownership of axolotls and tree frogs are restricted. They cannot be kept, sold, bred, trafficked or transported without a permit.

One of the biggest concerns with axolotls imported from elsewhere, notes Walton, is that they contain a fungus that can severely damage native species in the province.

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Walton said that if water from an axolotl fish tank gets into the water supply the fungus in, it has the potential to kill the native frog population.

Another concern are tree frogs imported from overseas. Walton said they carry what is called a chytrid fungus.

While he has diagnosed chytrid only two or three times within the past couple of years, he said there are sensitive species in the province, such as the Pacific tree frog, that would be at risk if in contact with this fungus.

Walton said that, for the most part, axolotls go unreported. But when they are discovered, they end up at his Maple Ridge clinic, where he tries his best to re-home them.

However, he can only send them to places that have wildlife permits.

“The only place I can legally send these are zoos and zoos are not going to want these things,” he said, meaning his only other option is to euthanize them.


 

cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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A dyeing blue frog that is legal to have as a pet in B.C. While it is a poison dart frog, they are only poisonous in the wild. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

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