Twenty dangerous snakes are being kept in Croydon according to a recent investigation.
The investigation which explored the dangerous wild animal licenses held across the UK unveiled that 20 venomous adult snakes are being kept in Croydon – this was the only one of the four EastLondonLines boroughs to have animals being kept under licence.
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 was established to ensure that exotic or dangerous animals are kept safely and securely.
Exotic pet owners pay a licence fee, which varies depending on where you live, to keep the pet which gets renewed every two years.
Iain Newby runs the Dangerous Wild Animal Rescue Facility (DWARF) in Essex and has rescued approximately 40,000 dangerous wild animals over the course of his career, he said: “The licence is there for a reason; it protects not only the public but it protects the animals.”
He has issues with the way the licensing works and believes the fees should be one set price, like car tax, as opposed to being £2000 in one place then £150 in another.
“The sad fact is, none of the people who were unlicensed who I rescued these animals from were ever prosecuted,” said Newby. “The ones who weren’t licensed weren’t looking after them properly.”
The full list of animals that need to be licensed is extensive and includes, but is not limited to; boars, tigers, giant anteaters, bears, elephants, walruses, emus and black widow spiders.
Ros Clubb, RSPCA exotic specialist, said: “We are deeply concerned about the number of exotic animals, including dangerous wild animals, now being kept as pets.
“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.”
Lucy Ross, Head of Training at Pets Corner which has a branch in Croydon, said: “Our staff give detailed advice about all concepts of owning reptiles to ensure they are looked after to the highest of standards and are given everything they need to thrive in a home environment.”
In the last 60 years there have been three deaths in the UK from venomous snake bites, so perhaps Croydon residents need not pack their bags just yet.