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Exotic animals found neglected and abandoned in Cornwall

Exotic animals found neglected and abandoned in Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 3:52pm 25th April 2019.

There are concerns about exotic animals being found stray, neglected or abandoned in Cornwall.

The RSPCA says it had more than 230 calls about them in the Duchy last year.

Those included things like bearded dragons, parrots, monkeys and pygmy hedgehogs.

The charity says often people just don't know how to look after them properly.

In July 2018, two live snakes were discovered in the Fraddon area of the county with burns all over their bodies.

Cornwall snakes  - rspca exotic animals
Two live snakes were found with burns all over their bodies near Fraddon

"A dog walker found one discarded in a pillowcase. The snake was taken to a vet, who was shocked by the state of the burns. A second snake was found in the same area a few days later in a similar condition.

"It is sickening, upsetting and frustrating that someone could do this. One snake sadly had to be put to sleep straight away to stop any more suffering. Thankfully the second snake survived and has since recovered."

RSPCA exotics officer Peter Ferris

In January 2018 the body of an eight-foot-long Boa constrictor with an injury to its head was found at the bottom of cliffs near a parking and picnic area in Portreath.

Peter added: "The snake had an awful gash to the head, which had left it almost completely severed. I suspect someone had thrown the snake from the top of the cliffs down to the beach."

RSPCA exotics officer Peter Ferris

Cornwall snakes  - rspca exotic animals
An eight-foot-long Boa constrictor was found at the bottom of cliffs in Portreath

"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 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. Some species can grow very large, live for a long time or require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold. 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.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. 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, including 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."

Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA's senior scientific officer in exotics and qualified exotics vet

Some of the incidents involving exotic animals that the RSPCA dealt with include:

  • A royal python found dead in Wool Pitch, Cwmbran, Wales with bruising around its mouth in January 2018. Inspectors suspect he was beaten before being abandoned.
  • In February 2018, two stray raccoon dogs were found within a mile of each other in the same Cumbrian village of Burneside, believed to be pets from the same home. The RSPCA does not believe these animals should be kept as pets as it is not possible to meet their needs in a domesticated environment.
  • Also in January 2018, a very sick 10 ft boa was found in a vivarium in the back seat of an abandoned car in Bristol. He was very weak, in a poor condition and with serious respiratory problems - sadly he had to be put to sleep.
  • In June last year, a bearded dragon was found abandoned next to bins in a Nike shoe box in Sittingbourne, Kent. Owing to an old tail injury, he was named Stumpy and was put up for rehoming.
  • In December 2018, a dead marmoset monkey was found in a street in Edmonton, London.

"It is heartbreaking to see animals like this found injured or suffering as they are stray or abandoned outside in inappropriate temperatures.

"Some of the animals we see, like monkeys and raccoon dogs, have no place in the home and we would urge people not to take them on as pets.

"Others are still a long-term commitment and need specialist care and equipment so we urge anyone considering taking them on to fully research their needs using expert sources, only consider keeping one if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs and consider rescuing rather than buying."

Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA

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