A proposal to ban non-native pets from the UK would lead to a surge in black market animal trading, the owner of Herefordshire’s largest exotic reptile collection has warned.

The European Union is considering a law restricting UK residents to pets originating from this country.

But Tom Wheeler of Ross-on-Wye’s Rainforest Exotics believes the idea would create chaos.

“What about dogs such as huskies and pets like dwarf rabbits?” he said.

“I don’t think you’d ever stop the sale of animals. They would just go onto the black market.

“At the moment we have to have a certificate to own crocodiles and venomous animals. But if they banned exotic animals they would change hands without any checks.”

The Ross shop currently stocks non-native animals including the Indian cobra snake and caiman crocodile.

The EU says the ruling would affect non-native pets which pose a “serious threat to native plants and animals in Europe”.