An American bison as a house-pet? Fine if you live in Wallonia, but not if you live in Flanders. The regional governments of Flanders and Wallonia have produced new lists of the animals permitted for members of the public to keep as pets. While in Flanders the bison – which can grow to weigh 1,000kg – is not allowed, the Bengal tiger is.
The list concerns animals which can be kept without a licence. In both regions, animals like dogs, cats, horses and even deer and hamster are free from regulation.
If you wish to keep a mammal which is not on the white-list, you have to apply for a licence, with the option of applying to have the species included on the list for the future. That option was pursued successfully by breeders of the Bengal tiger, but only as far as Flanders is concerned.
Brussels region has not yet produced its new list. Animal welfare is now a regional responsibility.
Other differences involve pigs: while Wallonia allows the domestic pig and the wild boar, Flanders allows only the domestic pig and the pot-bellied pig. And while the two regions ban the Siberian chipmunk, the animal is free to keep in Brussels region for the time being.
Anyone in Wallonia who decides to take in an American bison is advised to provide a strong fence: the male animal can reach a height of 1.8m and a weight of a tonne. On the other hand, his double layer of coat makes him impervious to even the Belgian weather, so need for a stable or a stall.