More dangerous wild animals are being kept as pets in East Yorkshire, posing a “significant risk” to the general public.
Lemurs, small clawed otters and capuchin monkeys are among some of the exotic animals owned by East Riding residents.
Last week, Hull City Council revealed dozens of deadly venomous snakes were housed at addresses in the city – including rattlesnakes, vipers and spitting cobras.
Following the latest discovery of wild animals in the region, an international wildlife charity has warned of the dangers this presents to both pet owners and the wider public.
Dr Chris Draper, head of animal welfare and captivity for Born Free, said: “These animals are not suitable to have in private hands or in domestic settings. It immediately presents a range of issues – from meeting the specific needs of the animals to ensuring the safety of those around them.
“They pose a significant risk to the generic public. Often the legislation requires them to get a licence to protect the wider public but not the owners themselves – that in itself is a very risky activity.
“It’s also a worry that it’s so easy to get these licences and keep these animals as pets at the simple click of a mouse.”
A freedom of information request found that East Riding Council has issued two dangerous wild animal (DWA) licences since 2017.
Each two-year licence costs £320 from the local authority, while those seeking guidance before applying can pay £60 for a ‘pre-application advice service.’
Several wild animals from far flung areas of the world are being kept in East Riding homes, including two rare types of lemur native to Madagascar, the red-ruffed lemur and ring-tailed lemurs.
Dr Draper expressed his concerns over the keeping of such species, adding that it would be very difficult to meet their very specific needs.
He said: “It is abundantly clear these shouldn’t be kept in a private setting. We’re talking about highly sociable primates here that are used to being in and around big groups of other lemurs.
“When it comes to them living in the UK as pets, there are obvious questions over whether they’re being kept alone or with others like they should be.
“The living environment has to be right in terms of temperature, space and the provision of suitable food – with these licences we don’t really know the conditions under which these animals are being kept.”
The animals being kept in East Yorkshire homes
One of those species being kept is the red-ruffed lemur, the most endangered mammal in the world and listed as ‘critically endangered’ by conservation groups.
They are mostly red in colour but with a black forehead, and live in deciduous (dry) forests and are entirely vegetarian. They use alarm calls to warn other group members of incoming predators and have a life span of 15 to 20 years in the wild.
Also found to be living in the East Riding are ring-tailed lemurs, which are largely grey with dark grey heads. Listed as ‘endangered,’ they live in arid, open areas – as well as forests – and are one of the most vocal primates.
They have scent glands on their wrists and chests that they use to mark their foraging routes, while males have a horny spur on each wrist gland which helps them to pierce tree branches before scent marking them.
In the wild they live in social groups ranging in size from three to 25 individuals and can travel up to three miles a day together in search of food.
Capuchin monkeys, which are also being kept as pets, live in large groups within the forest in Brazil and other parts of Latin America.
Highly agile and lean, these monkeys survive on a diet that includes fruit, insects, leaves and small birds.
Despite possessing human-like features and appearing innocent, they are capable of unprovoked attacks and can be very destructive in a domestic environment as they are difficult to control.
Another unusual wild animal that could be living down a street near you is the small-clawed otter – the smallest of the 13 otter species.
Dark brown and measuring up to 2m long, they are mainly found across Asia in southern parts of India, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Listed as ‘vulnerable,’ small-clawed otters primarily feed on molluscs, but will also eat fish, insects, amphibians and reptiles.
Much like the ring-tailed lemurs, they are very vocal and can communicate using up to 12 vocalisations. They typically live for between 15 and 20 years.