File photo: More than a million snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises are kept in homes. Picture: SIBONELO NGCOBO

London - Reptiles should not be kept as pets because three in four die within a year, a leading biologist warns.

More than a million snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises are kept in homes.

But Dr Clifford Warwick, a specialist in reptile biology and ethics, wrote in the journal Veterinary Record: "Compared to dogs, which achieve natural longevity in the domestic environment, 75 per cent of reptiles die during their first year in the home."

He argued that ethical standards, such as freedom from pain, fear and hunger, "simply cannot be met for captive reptiles".