The ISPCA is calling for tougher regulations around the breeding, keeping and selling of exotic animals as pets after dealing with a number of incidents with exotic animals recently.

Earlier this year, eight fire salamanders and a natterjack toad were illegally imported into Ireland by post from Spain for the pet trade market.

They were intercepted by Customs officers in Dublin and were quarantined and cared for by staff at the ISPCA National Animal Centre for the past five months.

The Salamanders were transported to a purpose-built facility at the Galway Atlantaquaria today.

The natterjack toad will be rehomed to the Wild Ireland Education Centre in the coming weeks as it cannot be released back to the wild.

In a statement, the ISPCA said fire salamanders carry a fungus that can infect newts and salamanders in Europe and North America and pose a serious threat.

The salamanders that were seized were quarantined under specific conditions to ensure that they were not carrying the fungus and were not able to spread the disease to other animals.

This incident follows on from the rescue of two stray snakes last summer, including Penelope the royal python.

More recently, an emaciated Burmese python was discovered abandoned in the Wicklow Mountains and an ISPCA inspector seized a Hermann's tortoise and an axolotl from a property in Roscommon.

The ISPCA said that last week two Horsefield tortoises were surrendered into its care by an owner who felt that they were unable to care for them adequately.

A specialist veterinary surgeon subsequently diagnosed that both were suffering from metabolic bone disease caused by lack of calcium in the diet.

This can lead to softening of the bones and shell of the animals and ultimately can prove fatal.

The charity is also frequently contacted by owners of red-eared and yellow-bellied terrapins who are looking to rehome their pets, which were bought as tiny babies, but which can grow to 30cms in length.

It is extremely difficult to find homes for such large specimens as they are so abundant and so difficult to care for.

The ISPCA is urging the public to think very carefully before considering getting exotic animals as pets.

This is due to their complex social needs, specific and nutritional requirements, public health risks and also the potential impact on the environment of those species that can become invasive should they escape or be deliberately released.