RSPCA reveals concerning number of dumped, stray, sick and neglected exotic pets in Yorkshire

Bearded dragon. Pic: RSCPA.Bearded dragon. Pic: RSCPA.
Bearded dragon. Pic: RSCPA.
A concerning number of exotic pets suffered in Yorkshire last year, new RSPCA figures show.

The animal welfare charity has released its annual statistics today, revealing the plight of more unusual species being kept as pets and for entertainment in the UK.

Nationally, the charity received a total of 15,790 calls about abandoned, stray, sick, suffering and neglected exotic reptiles, mammals, birds and fish - more than 40 a day, or more than one every hour.

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In Yorkshire the charity received 1,230 calls about exotic animals, and rescued more than 300 exotic pets and fish.

The charity believes the reason behind this is that owners do not do their research and do not understand the type and amount of care that they need, resulting in them being neglected, dumped or escaping.

In York in January last year, the RSPCA was called to a home after the resident had moved out but left his terrapin behind.

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In Middlesbrough in June, a walker had found a stray turtle with a damaged shell in Acklam.

Inspector Lucy Green, specialist exotics officer for the North Yorkshire area, said: “Although their numbers are small compared to more common pets, we have real concerns about the welfare of reptiles and other exotic animals kept as pets or entertainment in this country.

“Reptiles and other exotic pets are completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including requiring the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet. Many of the animals we’re called to help are found stray outside, where they can very quickly suffer in the cold.

“These animals are commonly found for sale in pet shops and are advertised online. At least in the past, animals have often been handed over to buyers with little or no information about how to care for them properly, although new regulations in England should improve this.

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"In some cases, we believe owners take them on simply because they believe they will be easier to care for than other pets, but it is essential that people research what is required in the care of their pet, from food, equipment, environment and vet care, before taking one on. We would also urge them to ask for help if they’re struggling to meet their needs.

“We believe that people may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and the animals are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home. This is why we would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal’s needs and whether they’re the right pet for them.”

The RSPCA, which has a team of specially trained exotics officers, rescued more than 4,000 exotic animals in 2018, including more than 500 snakes, more than 300 turtles, 145 bearded dragons, five raccoon dogs and even four marmosets and one wallaby.

Last year, the charity received 11,040 calls reporting cruelty, neglect, injury and suffering of all animals in North Yorkshire, including 1,935 about cats, 3,103 about dogs and 931 about horses.