Live reptiles are easy to buy online. Colombian redtail boas, Mt. Koghis Leachianus geckos, and even Southern New Guinea stream turtles, a species only known to science since 2015, can be bought with a few clicks. Some species are common; others are rare, unique to particular islands or hills. For many of these species, whether or not this mostly unregulated trade threatens their population in the wild is unknown.
A study published today in NatureCommunications finds the scale of that online reptile trade is larger than previously thought, and that many reptile species are traded without protections from international regulations. After scraping the internet for data on reptiles for sale, the authors found that 3,943 reptile species—more than 35 percent of all reptile species—have been traded over the past 20 years, 2,754 of them online. “We were just overwhelmed by the sheer volume of species,” says Alice Hughes, an