1.1 Definition and Introduction
An exotic pet is defined as any pet other than a dog, cat or farm animal. This includes many species of animals, including pocket pets, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians, in addition to animals that are less often considered pets such as primates, kangaroos, hollow-bellied pigs and big cats.
The trade in exotic animals was one of the first to develop on the planet, even before the gold trade, and there is no indication that it has diminished in intensity over time. On the contrary, it represents a growing and constantly evolving market often impacted by new trends that can quickly propel certain species to the top of the sales charts. The demand for exotic pets is very heterogeneous around the world with the USA and China being the largest importers, closely followed by the European Union.
In France, exotic animals, also known as Nouveaux Animaux de Compagnie (NAC), account for about 20% of animal sales [Les Echos] and this figure has been rising in recent years. In the domestic reptile category, for example, the French market is the largest in Europe.
The French market for exotic animals is dominated by large traditional pet shops such as Maxi Zoo, JMT, Medor & Cie or Animalis. These large structures coexist with very specialized and smaller pure players such as Veto Store, Reptiligne (reptiles) and Zoomalia (rodents and rabbits). It is also important to underline the weight of the informal economy in the sale of exotic animals, it is indeed considered that 25% of global sales are made illegally. [The Conversation]
There is a trend towards an increase in the diversity of pets on the French territory due, in particular, to the desire to own a rare and exotic animal. This trend is fueled by social media with the posting, by certain celebrities, of exotic animals sharing their daily life, causing a craze for these same species. However, the coronavirus pandemic due to the illegal trade of wild species could reverse the general trend in this market with the general public becoming more aware of the ecological and health risks associated with certain practices.
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