If you have questions, please look at our FAQ section below. Click on the question to see the answer.

What is the ESF and what are its goals?
  1. Conservation of reptiles and amphibians in captivity, with an emphasis on endangered species, by building and maintaining genetically viable populations in captivity for the future.
  2. Management of European studbooks
  3. Management of genetically sound breeding programmes
  4. Cooperation with reintroduction programmes
  5. Collection, compiling and publication of knowledge about maintenance, feeding and breeding (programmes) of reptiles and amphibians.
What is a studbook?

A studbook is literally a register in which the origin (descent) and characteristics of the registered animals of one race or species are drawn up. In case of the ESF, this concerns a group of reptile and amphibian species. A studbook can arrange a number of things: management of an animal species in captivity, countering inbreeding by working with breeding programmes and knowledge collection and publication.
This means that the studbook keeper keeps track of which animals are being cared for at which location and which animals reproduce, the goal of this being to guarantee the genetic health of the population on the long term. Animals and their offspring can be exchanged between (aspiring) studbook members, with the studbook keeper possibly playing a mediating / advising role. The studbook keeper can be consulted if there are questions regarding the husbandry and breeding of the species.
Once a year, the studbook keeper publishes an annual report, in which mutations and successes of the past year are noted.

Why are studbooks of importance?

Especially for species that are in danger of extinction (in captivity and/or in the wild), it is vitally important to keep the gene pool of the population as broad as possible. The smaller the population, the bigger the chance of risks that come with inbreeding. With every individual animal that dies in a small population (such as the European captive population), part of the genetic variation disappears that is necessary for a genetically healthy population. The same applies for an animal that does not reproduce: this individual is genetically dead for its populations future existence, unless an effort is made to breed with the individual.
The collection and transfer of knowledge means that an effort is made to collect, and eventually publish, as much information as possible about the husbandry and breeding of a studbook species. This way, one person can be consulted instead of `the wheel having to be reinvented` again and again.

What is expected of me as a studbook participant?

Once a year, the studbook keeper publishes an annual report that is given to the ESF board, in which the mutations and successes of the past year are described. For this report, the studbook keeper will contact the studbook participants, but it is also highly appreciated when the participants of a studbook communicate changes in their animal collections on other moments, too.
In order to collect as much information as possible, especially of the more difficult to keep species, it is highly appreciated if a studbook participant collects as much as possible of his/her own husbandry and breeding data, so that these can subsequently be used to contribute to the general knowledge of a species.

What do I do to join a studbook? Is there a fee?

Participation in a studbook does not cost money. You can register your animals by contacting the studbook keeper directly (See under Studbook overview), or by using the online registration forms. These forms can be found under Forms on the website the screen of the particular studbook.

Do I transfer ownership of my animals to the ESF if I join a studbook? What does the ESF have to say about my animals and about what I do with them?

No! Ownership of animals that are registered in the studbook remains with the keeper at all times. An exception to this rule are animals that have been donated to the ESF by former owners of government agencies. These animals are placed with private keepers within the studbook for breeding loan, but ownership remains with the ESF..

Can I later unsubscribe my animals from the studbook?

The keeper can do with his/her animals what he/she wants, but is must be clear that it is highly appreciated if the animals would remain within the studbook: the goal of the studbooks would be hard to achieve if animals continuously disappear from it. The same applies for the animals offspring.

How do I know whether my animals are suitable for entering into a studbook?

In principle, all animals of a species and/or subspecies for which there is a studbook are suitable for registration: all new genes are obviously wanted! An exception to this applies in the case of a limited number of species, for which only individuals from a known locality are registered in the studbook (e.g. Testudo hermanni boettgeri). Exceptions may also apply to hybrids, or for animals whose genes are overpopulated in a studbook (being the offspring of extremely successful pairs), but to find out about this, it would be best to contact the studbook keeper.

How do I come into contact with other reptile and amphibian keepers?

The studbook keeper can bring you into contact with (other) keepers of a studbook species. As a studbook participant, it is up to you whether you would like to be brought in contact with interested people within or outside of the studbook, or not at all.

Can I also register a single animal into a studbook?

Yes, a single animal is also a potentially very valuable animal for its population. A condition, however, would be that the keeper is open-minded towards the possibility to breed with this animal, at his/her own location or elsewhere on breeding loan: you need to realise that a single animal that will never be bred, needs to be considered lost (dead) for its population.

What are my obligations if I keep animals that were given to me on a breeding loan basis by the ESF?

Of a studbook participant, with regard to animals that he/she has in breeding loan from the ESF, is expected that he/she:

  • cares for these animals in an optimal way, with respect to housing, feeding and medical care;
  • provides, if asked or at his/her own initiative, information about the animals to the studbook keeper on time;
  • actively cooperates with the breeding programme of the specific (sub)species with the animals;
  • brainstorms about and cooperates with the further development of the population and the studbook;
  • keeps him-/herself to the definitions of the ESF contract, which he/she has signed when the animals were transferred.
What do I do to become a studbook keeper?

For this we would like to refer you to the guidelines for a new studbook, which you can find on the ESF website under Guidelines.
It needs to be said here that the board strives to appoint, apart from the studbook keeper, a co-studbook keeper for each studbook. The advantage of this is a better guarantee of the continuity of the studbook and the possibility of splitting workloads.

I contacted the studbook keeper, but I still have not received a reaction. Now what?

If you haven received an answer within a reasonable period of time, we strongly recommend you contact the senior studbook keeper.

Do I need to register my captive-bred animals immediately after they are born or do I wait until I am certain that they will survive?

It is important that the studbook keeper knows which animals in the studbook are reproducing and in which numbers. If hatchlings die shortly after or some time after hatching, there is still a use in notifying the studbook keeper about this. So please notify the studbook keeper after the animals are born!
Data about egg laying when the eggs don t hatch (numbers, fertility rates) are also very important for the enhancement of knowledge about a species, especially if the species is difficult to breed.

Can I transfer animals, that were given to me on a breeding loan basis by the ESF, to a third party (existing or new studbook participant)?

This can only be done after explicit agreement from the board. A new contract about the transfer of the animals will in this case be provided.

If I produce offspring of animals that I keep in breeding loan, do have ownership of these?

This is different for the different species and dependent of its situation in captivity, and it is stated in the mutual agreement that is signed by both parties when the animals are transferred.

Can I become a donor of the ESF?

Yes, sure! The ESF is a non-profit organisation which has no own means of income, so donations are always very welcome.

European Studbook Foundation c/o Schalkwijk, NL ING banknr.: 7231120, BIC (=SWIFT): INGBNL2A, IBAN: NL57INGB0007231120

Can animals be donated to the ESF, for example when the owner passes away?

Animals that belong to a studbook species can be donated to the ESF. Please contact the studbook keeper for this.