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Why You Shouldn’t Release Pets Into The Wild

Sometimes people find themselves in a position where they are unable to keep their pet. Some people do the right thing and contact their local rescue for help, however, others think the best option is to release their pet into the wild and set them free, which is a really bad idea. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t release your pet;

They could pass on disease/eat the native species

Goldfish are an excellent example of this. Some species of goldfish can grow to a large size and quickly outgrow their tank. A lot of them are released into the wild, which plays havoc on the natural English ecosystem. Goldfish are members of the Carp family and have the potential to pass on diseases to native animals. Not only this, they are gluttonous fish who will eat most things, outcompeting the local wildlife for resources. If they manage to get downstream, they could out-compete native fish. Competition is a huge problem as native animals are being forced out due to another species taking their resources. Giant African Land snails are a species who are likely to become an invasive species, due to their quick reproductive rates and huge appetites.

They won’t know how to survive in the wild

Domesticated pets don’t know how to find food and create shelter. Whilst they do have some instincts, they generally won’t do too well in the wild. Take rabbits, for example, you may think the rabbit will be ok as there are hundreds, if not thousands of rabbits living in the British countryside, but these rabbits know how to live in the wild. Domestic rabbits generally have no fear of humans and are sitting ducks when foxes are on the prowl. Not only that, a light coloured bunny will be easily picked out by a predator so won’t last very long. Even if it does, and has babies, these babies will be a light coloured and will be picked off as soon as they set foot out of cover. As well as this, they won’t have a family group to live with, which is another reason why wild rabbits are so successful – they create large warrens and work as a team to watch all angles for predators. They won’t just adjust and know how to survive and rely on humans to look after them.

But that’s not all – the genes your pet carries could be passed on. Dwarf lop rabbits are bred to have short faces, adding to the cute factor, however, rabbits with short faces are prone to having bad teeth which require veterinary attention. These bad genes could be passed down generations leaving many bunnies suffering in pain due to their bad teeth.

abandoned-rabbit

These rabbits were found in a small wooded area, near to a theme park and busy road

Unsuitable habitat

Just because we have native species, it doesn’t mean your pet will acclimatise to the harsh weather conditions we have. Reptiles, for example, need certain temperatures to survive which will not be matched by English weather. Although some reptiles, such as terrapins have been released into ponds, it still doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. These terrapins eat the native species in the pond and outcompete the other animals. Because of this, terrapins are removed from lakes, however, this poses the question of what to do with them, as they live for a long time and aren’t very popular. Another example are birds and you may think they could survive, but again they won’t know what they should eat and they aren’t aware of how to avoid predators.

terrapin-set-free

This terrapin was found in a pond

They can form colonies

Feral cats are the best example of this. Lots of people keep cats, but those abandoned and left to fend for themselves can set up large colonies of cats who are in the same boat as them. These feral cats will breed, and very quickly there is a population boom. Feral cats will fead on native species, such as birds and cause a large decline in their numbers. There is also a risk of these cats suffering a slow and painful death due to being left to fend for themselves. For example, if the cat is hit by a car, it could be left to suffer and die a slow and painful death, fights between cats can cause injuries, such as abbesses and left untreated, the cat will be in a lot of pain. As well as this, there are people who don’t like cats who could harm them. There are some programs in place to try and sort this issue, such as the trap, neuter and release programme which stops the cycle of kittens being born.

It’s illegal

The five freedoms are a list of things that should be met when you keep an animal. The five freedoms are to ensure the animal

  • has a proper diet and fresh water
  • has somewhere suitable to live
  • is kept with or away from other animals, depending on its needs
  • is allowed to express itself and behave normally
  • is protected from, and treated for, illness and injury

Releasing them into the wild will mean you aren’t providing them with their basic needs. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Section 14 prohibits releasing or allowing to escape into the wild all non-native animals. This Act states “We consider ‘release into the wild’ to be the active removal of an animal, from a condition of captivity, such that it has the freedom to go where it will. In essence, we consider that the deliberate introduction of an animal into an area considered to be ‘the wild’ would be an act of release.”

abandoned-dog

Nigel was found sitting on someones doorstep

What should you do?

If you cannot keep your pet, your best option is to contact your local animal rescue who may be able to help you. Keep in mind, they may not have room so you might need to wait until they can help. They may even pass on details on other rescues who may be able to take your pet. Never purchase a pet on a whim without doing proper research and don’t buy pets as gifts for someone else, no matter  how well you mean. In conclusion, releasing a domestic animal into the wild is cruel and unnecessary.

If you liked this post, be sure to check out why purchasing pets on impulse is a bad idea. 

2 Comments

  1. Lots of good information here. Some people though don’t care what happens to their animals, if say, they have got bored with them. I just hope that your message is spread far and wide so that people can understand why it is the cruellest thing to release an animal into the wild.

    • The amount of animals we have had handed in after being found wandering is ridiculous. Especially with rabbits, people seem to think they will cope in the wild, but it’s a death sentence.

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