SINGAPORE - A 25-year-old man was fined a total of $2,200 on Wednesday (May 17) after he was caught keeping wild animals - five hedgehogs - in his flat in Bedok North Street 2.
Raymi Thye Mustafa was fined the maximum $1,000 after he pleaded guilty to one count of being in possession of an adult four-toed hedgehog.
He was fined an additional $1,200 for failing to comply with the lawful demand of an Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) officer.
Four other charges involving the other hedgehogs were taken into consideration during sentencing.
His offences came to light when Chinese evening paper Shin Min Daily News sent an e-mail to AVA on Jan 10, stating that someone was selling a hedgehog for $700 on online market platform Gumtree.
An AVA officer sent an inquiry to the seller, expressing his interest in the animal. The seller turned out to be Raymi.
The pair agreed to meet at Bedok MRT station at 8am the next day for the sale to take place.
The officer and his colleagues turned up as promised, and Raymi showed him the hedgehog which he had placed inside a plastic container.
The court heard that he panicked when the officer revealed his true identity and asked for his identification papers.
Raymi tried to flee but the other AVA officers in the vicinity managed to catch him.
He led them to his home where four more hedgehogs were uncovered.
On Wednesday, AVA prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said: "Keeping of hedgehogs in Singapore is not permitted and no licence has been issued by the director-general, Agri-Food and Veterinary Services, for the keeping of hedgehogs."
Pleading for leniency, Raymi told the court that he is financially strapped and has to support his family.
Court papers did not mention where the hedgehogs are now.
According to the AVA website, Singapore does not allow the keeping of illegal wildlife such as hedgehogs, iguanas, tarantulas and scorpions as pets.
This is because diseases could be introduced and spread to humans, and other domestic animals.
AVA said: "Unsuitable living conditions, poor diet and (the) pet owner's lack of knowledge of the proper care for the animal may affect (its) welfare.
"If these exotic pets, which are non-native, were released in the wild, (they) may affect Singapore's biodiversity."
For failing to comply with the lawful demand of the AVA officer, Raymi could have been jailed up to six months and fined up to $10,000.