Resources for keeping live animals

Here you will find information about keeping Australian native animals, animal welfare and working with live animals.

Live Displays in My Photo Studio

Live Displays in My Photo Studio
Photographer: James King © Australian Museum

Keeping Australian invertebrates as pets

The keeping of Australian invertebrates at home and in classrooms has become more popular in recent years. Although invertebrates require less time, food and space compared to traditional pets such as cats and dogs they still require care and attention.

The important points to remember about keeping any animal are as follows:

  • Investigate what animals are available, what are their pros and cons.
  • Ask yourself why you want to keep an animal – is it to learn about nature? Look at something interesting? Or is it to have something that is cuddly and comes when you call?
  • Do your research first. Find out what the animal needs to be healthy and stress free in captivity. Don’t just ask the pet shops, read books, find good websites and talk to people that already keep the animals you're interested in.
  • Don’t purchase an animal just because it looks cool, strange or seems easier to keep than a conventional pet.
  • Find out how much the animal costs to buy, set-up an enclosure and maintain for its lifetime.

Ultimately you will responsible for the needs of any animal in your care. Be sure to think long and hard about if you can supply the animal with a quality of life it deserves.

Keeping other Australian animals

Native fauna such as amphibians and reptiles as well as some birds and mammals can be kept in NSW and other Australian states and territories under a permit system

Please see your relevant State or Territory authority.

All animals must be obtained from licensed suppliers or other licensed keepers and cannot be taken from the wild. Unwanted captive animals should not be released into the wild and must be legally re-homed.

Animal welfare

For information about exhibited animal regulations in NSW please see the Exhibited Animals page on the NSW Department of Primary Industry’s Animal Welfare website.

Animal keeping courses and careers

Caring for captive animals is an interesting and rewarding occupation, covering multiple areas of science, from nutrition to reproduction, to behaviour and health. Animal keepers are employed by Zoos, Wildlife Parks, Aquariums and Museums.

Captive animal courses are provided by the Western Sydney Institute of TAFE at Richmond for both those wishing to start in the animal keeping industry and those already working with captive animals who want to formalise their skills. Courses cover topics such as Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), animal housing, diets, restraint techniques, reproduction and health.

Unfortunately the Australian Museum is not accepting work experience applications at this time.

A good resource available to both existing and future keepers is the Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping which provides husbandry resources and job vacancies in the animal keeping industry.

Further reading

  • Online reptile care sheets. Australian Herpetological Society.
  • Amphibian Ark. 2009. Husbandry standards and biosecurity. proceedings of the CBSG/WAZA Amphibian Ex situ Conservation Planning Workshop, El Valle, Panama, 12-15th February 2006.
  • Driscoll, M. 1995. “Butterflies! Live (the Hard Part) and in Color,” Exhibitionist. 14(2), 28-30.
  • Henderson, A. Henderson, D. and Sinclair J. 2008. Bugs Alive, A guide to keeping Australian invertebrates. Museum Victoria. Melbourne.
  • Iliff, W. J. 1981. A Storefront Insect Zoo. Curator, 24(2), 109-115.
  • Matthews, R. W., Flage, L. R. and Matthews, J. R. 1997. Insects as Teaching Tools in Primary and Secondary Education. Annual Review of Entomology, 42, 269-289.
  • Mendelson, J.R. Pramuk J.B. Gagliardo,R. Pessier, A. Rothermel, B.B Zippel , K.C. Bevier, C. Preest, M. Crother, B. 2009. Considerations and Recommendations for Raising Live Amphibians in Classrooms. Herpetological Review, 2009, 40(2), 142–144.
  • Newton, M. 2008. A Guide to Keeping Australian Scorpions in Captivity. Mark A. Newton Publishing. Adelaide.
  • Poole, V.A. and Grow, S. (eds). 2008. Amphibian Husbandry Resource Guide. Amphibian Taxonomic Advisory Group. Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
  • Simpkin, L. 2008. Keeping Bugs Alive alive. proceedings of the 2008 ARAZPA Conference.
  • Swan, M. 2008. Keeping and Breeding Australian Lizards. Mike Swan Herp. Books. Lilydale.
  • Tyler, M.J. 1996. Frogs as Pets: A Guide to Keeping the Australian Green Tree Frog. Graphic Print Group. Richmond.
  • Walls, J. G. 2007. Vivaria Designs. Advanced Vivarium Systems. Mission Viejo.
  • Walraven, E. 2004. Care of Australian Wildlife. New Holland. Sydney.
  • Weigel, J 1988. Care of Australian Reptiles in Captivity. Reptile Keepers Association, Gosford.

Chris Hosking , Interpretive Officer
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