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Things to consider when trading animals on Trade Me

A guest post from the Ministry for Primary Industries on best practice when it comes to buying and selling animals.

By Ministry for Primary Industries 24 August 2023

Here's a guest post by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that shares some of the things you must consider when buying or selling animals.

It's important to keep these points in mind when trading animals, so a big thanks from Trade Me to MPI for putting this post together.

Trade Me has its own Code of Animal Welfare and Animal listing policy, so check these out before buying or selling a pet.

What you need to know before you buy and sell pets on Trade Me.

It’s very easy to get excited with the thought of bringing a new pet into your home.

It is important to ensure that your new animal remains healthy during the move from its old home to its new one, and that you have all the right equipment and knowledge to set your new pet up for success.

There are many different types of animals bought and sold on Trade Me. Both buyers and sellers need to know how to properly care for the animal that they are trading, as well as their legal obligations to maintain its health and welfare.

You should also check that the animal has come from a good home and that you're satisfied it has been well socialised. If you have any concerns about the health or welfare of your new pet, call your veterinarian.

Every animal owner or person in charge of animals has obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This Act establishes a duty of care for animals, where animal owners and people in charge of animals must meet their physical, health, and behavioural needs, and must alleviate pain or distress.

The Act defines "physical, health, and behavioural needs" as:

  • proper and sufficient food and water
  • adequate shelter
  • the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour
  • appropriate physical handling
  • protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, injury and disease.

More detailed requirements for certain species and situations can be found in MPI’s regulations and codes of welfare. Codes are issued under the Act and contain minimum standards and recommended best practices.

If you have any concerns for the welfare of an animal, contact your local SPCA centre or MPI on 0800 00 83 33 or via their website.

Age of sale

Obviously, you want your new pet to be healthy. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure they’ve had enough time with their mother to develop properly, before being placed in their new home.

Puppies and kittens need to be at least eight weeks of age before being sold. The buyer should ensure that any new pup or kitten they are planning to purchase is over this age. This is also recommended for rabbits.


Before purchasing a dog, make sure that the breed is right for your lifestyle and that you can meet its lifelong feed, exercise, shade and shelter, socialisation, and veterinary requirements.

The Code of Welfare for Dogs provides information about your legal obligations to care for your dog and how to keep them healthy and happy.

Dogs must be registered with your local council, microchipped, and receive their first round of vaccinations by the age of three months.

There are a few regulations that you should be aware of when bringing a new dog into your home. These include restrictions for muzzles, shelter requirements, riding in and on vehicles, collars and tethers, and certain surgical procedures. Ensure you familiarise yourself with them in the “Dogs” section.

Tail docking and ear cropping for cosmetic purposes is prohibited. Since 2018 only vets can shorten tails for therapeutic reasons.

Birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice, and exotic animals

All these species of animals have their own particular needs, which need to be met in order to keep them healthy. It is important that buyers have a good knowledge of how to care for any animal they are buying.

For example, guinea pigs are naturally sociable creatures that need a friend to stay happy, so they should always be kept in pairs or small groups.

The SPCA has some great guidance on how to choose the best pet for your lifestyle, and information on how to care for them. Contacting organisations with specialist knowledge on your new pet will help settle them into your family with greater ease.

Before importing pet species from overseas, you will need to understand New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements.

You should also be aware that the import of a number of exotic pet species is prohibited.

Make sure you have done your homework thoroughly and are able to properly care for your new pet before you consider purchasing an exotic species of animal.


Many different species of livestock are sold on Trade Me. Whether you are thinking of buying a couple of hens or a herd of cattle, it is important to be aware of your legal obligations and any relevant codes of welfare.

Codes of welfare have been developed for sheep and beef cattle, layer hens, meat chickens, dairy cattle, goats, pigs, horses and donkeys, llamas and alpaca, and deer.

Animal Transport

People responsible for the transport and preparation of animals for transport need to be familiar with the requirements in the Code of Welfare for Transport. This covers the transportation of live animals within New Zealand by land, air, or sea.

Need more information on animal welfare?

Please visit our website, phone 0800 00 83 33, or email

About the author: Brought to you by the Ministry for Primary Industries to help spread the word about good animal care.


Ministry for Primary Industries
Ministry for Primary Industries