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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Excepted items: pet food and wild bird food: rats, mice, day-old chicks and similar sold as food for ‘exotics’

Some specialist suppliers and pet shops may sell dead rats, mice or day-old chicks for feeding to exotic pets, normally snakes and other reptiles. Because the species from which these exotics are drawn are not pet species, these are treated for VAT purposes on the same terms as any other food for a mixed species: they are zero-rated unless they are specifically held out for sale as pet food and canned, packaged or prepared. The initial killing of the creatures does not constitute preparation as far as VAT is concerned, so they are standard-rated only if they are both held out for sale specifically for pet food, and packaged.

Occasionally the same type of specialist outlet will sell live creatures (locusts etc) for feeding to exotics (reptiles, tarantulas etc). The VAT treatment of live animals is covered in Notice 701/15, Food for animals.

Live day-old chicks are zero-rated as they are animals of a kind used for human consumption. Live rats, mice and locusts are standard-rated.