Numerous websites offer exotic animals as pets. But beware – the animals are illegal to trade or own and the seller is most likely trying to trick animal lovers into giving up credit card information. And aside from the disconnected cruelty necessary for this market to exist, species being sold as novel commodities stand to lose the most. Of course, the imprisoned lives these exotic animals on the bidding block is an assaut to any animal lover. Best course of action?  Report virtual animal traffickers to an animal welfare agency with the clout to take action. -Global Animal

The Advertiser, Hannah Silverman

Exotic pets are being “sold” online, but authorities fear it’s an illegal scam that animal lovers should keep their paws off.

One website is offering capuchin monkeys and cheetah cubs for adoption in South Australia, while interstate pet lovers seeking companions with a twist are being tempted by tiger cubs, chimpanzees and pythons.

RSPCA national spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said there were several websites claiming to sell exotic animals.

“The internet has fuelled the buying of pets online and it is a real problem and more often than not it is a scam,” she said. “In America you can keep exotic animals as pets but in Australia it’s not like that. That’s why we are very skeptical of these sites.”

She said the difficulty in importing exotic animals would provide legal hiccups.

“They would have to get into the country which would be the first big hurdle and also it’s really hard to keep one of these animals as a pet,” she said.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources manager of investigation and compliance Hannah Dridan also warned consumers not to be fooled by the offers.

She said there had been a few calls regarding the online advertising for capuchin monkeys during the past week, highlighting how common the scam has become.

“These websites exist but a lot of the links you see are simply ploys to get unsuspecting people to part with their bank details,” she said.

“Tigers, for example, generally cannot be traded in to any country in the world but that doesn’t stop people from trying to sell them. If you come across a website like this you should notify the relevant government area.”

Ms Dridan said in SA penalties of up to $100,000 or two years jail might apply, but federal penalties and breaches of international treaties might be harsher.