A Snapshot of Online Wildlife Trade: Australian e-commerce trade of native and non-native pets  

Adam Toomes* (Corresponding Author), Stephanie Moncayo, Oliver Stringham, Charlotte Lassaline, Lisa Wood, Mariah Millington, Charlotte Drake, Charlotte Jense, Ashley Allen, Katherine G.W. Hill, Pablo Garcia Diaz, Lewis Mitchell, Phillip Cassey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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The international trade of non-domesticated pets impacts both conservation and biosecurity via the harvest and release of live animals beyond their native distributions. The extent to which individual countries mitigate these impacts via regulation of trade is inconsistent, as is their capacity to monitor internet facilitated trade. We investigated the online trade of vertebrate pets within Australia, a country with a reputation for relatively stringent pet11 importation regulations and world-class border biosecurity. Using semi-automated data
mining (i.e., webscraping) techniques, we collected online pet trade data over the course of 14 weeks from 12 Australian e-commerce platforms selected using an a priori set of search terms. We analysed spatial, temporal and taxonomic biases in trade and identified instances of high rates of trade in: (i) threatened species, (ii) non-native species, (iii) and species not permissible for live import. We identified over 100 000 individual live animals across 1192 species, including: 667 non-native species for sale within Australia from 03/12/2019
18 20/03/2020 (mammals were excluded from our analysis). Our findings constitute a much greater scale (in terms of abundance and richness) of non-native species trade than previously recorded in Australia. Substantial changes to legislative control of domestically traded pets are needed at the national level to reduce the volume of non-native pets that may contribute to the establishment of invasive species in Australia. We suggest that contemporary examples of permit systems applied to native taxa may provide a valuable template for the implementation of such changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110040
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date24 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

This project was funded by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (Project PO1-I-001). Adam Toomes was additionally supported by the FJ Sandoz PhD Scholarship. Pablo GarcíaDíaz was funded by NERC grants NE/S011641/1 (Newton LATAM programme) and 2022GCBCCONTAIN.

Data Availability Statement

As our data contains potentially identifiable or re-identifiable information, we have chosen not to publish it in any publicly available archive. However, we have published a dataset summarising the rate of trade for native and non-native species within Australia, which can be found at: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.20956339.


  • Biosecurity
  • e-commerce
  • Exotic pets
  • invasive non-native species
  • wildlife trade


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