The RSPCA says the problem of abandoned exotic pets is a growing concern for animal rescue charities.
RSPCA officer Nicola White said: “We are finding that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on. We are rescuing around 1,700 reptiles every year – and the number of calls we receive about abandoned reptiles is increasing too.
“Reptiles may look resilient and tough, but they are reliant on their owners for heat, light, humidity, food and water – and can easily become poorly or suffer if these are not provided at the correct levels for the species.The conditions these animals need are not always easy to replicate in a home environment. Unlike cats or dogs these animals have not undergone years of domestication, therefore their needs are the same as in the wild.
“Exotics – especially reptiles – are commonly found in pet shops. Sadly, they are often handed over to buyers with very little or no information about how to care for them or the commitment that is involved in keeping them healthy. An owner who has never kept a reptile before may not know how to set up a vivarium properly or understand how to tell if their reptile is unwell and needs to see an exotics vet.
“We urge potential owners to look into what is required in the care of their pet first before taking one on so they know what is involved and how long it is likely to be for. Specialist vets are an excellent source of support and advice.”
For information on how to care for exotic animals, see www.rspca.org.uk/exotics
* A well cared for tortoise about to munch on some lunch (pictured); spaniels playing at the seaside; and a kitten pawing at dust are among images that are in the running for the RSPCA’s People’s Choice photography award this year. The special category features photographs from the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards, open to entrants aged 18 years and under.
A judging panel selected an overall winner last December. Now it’s the public’s turn to pick their ‘pet personalities’ winner in an online poll.
Voters have until 4pm on 3rd April. See www.rspca.org.uk/peopleschoice
The winner will receive £250 worth of vouchers from Wex Photographic, a trophy and certificate.