Importing land mammals or birds will, starting Thursday, require certification from the countries of origin that the animals do not suffer from infectious diseases contagious to humans.

The new measure aims to prevent the spread of communicable diseases through imported animals and to help track and monitor infections in the event of an outbreak, officials at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

The certificates will show the number of imported animals and the location from which they are being imported, the officials said.

Under the Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law, dogs, cats, monkeys, horses and a few other kinds of animals are already subject to quarantine inspections or import controls.

The latest measure expands the scope of imported animals to be regulated to rodents, including squirrels and hamsters, larger land mammals including elephants and lions, and birds, including owls.

Certificates must be submitted for animals that are imported for sale or exhibition in zoos or safari parks, as well as those imported as pets. The rule also applies to animals brought in for experiments and frozen rodents to be used as feed, the officials said.