Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Shops that buy and sell imported exotic animals in HCM City have become increasingly difficult to monitor, raising risks to human and animal health, according to authorities.
Many locals in HCM City like to buy exotic insects, reptiles and other imported animals of various colours and shapes, and raise them as pets.
“Dogs can be your best friend, but not for me. I have a tortoise and it is my love. Exotic animals are more precious and valuable compared to others,” Quân Dũng, 28, told Việt Nam News.
“Valuable as they are, some of my friends buy exotic animals and give them to their bosses on special occasions,” he said, adding that some animals are viewed as good luck charms.
The imported animals sell at a wide variety of price points at the shops, which claim they are imported with official documents.
Spiders such as white-legged spiders, red-legged spiders, Tarantula and Red G. Rose Tarafu can be found at many shops, priced at VNĐ100,000 (US$4,3) to several million đồng.
Yellow, green, and red geckos sell for VNĐ1.2 million ($52) to 7 million ($304,000) each, while pythons sell from VNĐ1.5 million ($65) to 4 million ($174).
African bullfrogs, Pacman frogs, South American dragons and Australian dragons sell for VNĐ0.7 million to 5 million, and Russian tortoises, Indian star tortoises and leopard tortoises cost VNĐ2.5 to 3.8 million ($108 to 165) each.
People can also buy Savannah Monitor, Tegu Argentina, Argus Monitor and Lace Monitor lizards at these shops.
Big animals sell for more than VNĐ10 million ($434), according to a shop in HCM City that claims to sell animals from Thailand that are free of disease and are not poisonous.
“I also have animals imported from China and Indonesia, besides Thailand,” the shop owner said.
Sellers at the shops often show buyers how to take care of the animals or inseminate different reptiles for resale purposes.
Necessities like food, cages, and lights can be ordered from these shops as well, a frequent buyer said.
Besides their growing popularity, these shops are not monitored by any official authority, including the HCM City Veterinary Department, Industry and Trade Department, or Health Department.
The departments said the sub-departments of Animal Health in each region should handle imported animals.
However, according to the sub-department of Animal Heath in Region VI, these kinds of animals are not included on the list of permissible imports.
Lý Hoài Vũ, representative of the sub-department, said that for overseas animals to be legally imported to Việt Nam, importers have to first seek approval from the Animal Health Department.
Imported animals must have official health certificates from their export countries and cannot be on the prohibited list of animals.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for the import of aquatic animals.
As imported animals are cleared by the Animal Health Department or Directorate of Fisheries, they have to be checked by the sub-department of relevant regions.
As of now, no shop in HCM City has informed the sub-department of their selling or importing activities.
Dr. Lê Quý Kha, deputy director of the Việt Nam Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, said that illegally imported animals could cause detrimental consequences to the environment.
“The yellow snail’s fast reproduction overwhelms local animal habitats and destroys crops, and red-eared tortoises damage the ecosystem and are a source of typhoid,” Kha said.
Kha warned that theses exotic animals can carry multiple diseases and spread harmful fungi and bacteria.
For instance, scorpions are highly toxic and frogs can be a source of poison. If any of them mix with local breeds, an imbalance could occur in the ecosystem.
Kha said that authorities should take immediate action to monitor business activities of shops selling imported animals. — VNS