The RSPCA received more than 25,000 calls about animal cruelty in Greater Manchester last year

The RSPCA has released its annual statistics which reveal the plight of the more unusual animals being kept as pets and in the UK.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 8:12 am
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 9:24 am
This snake was found hiding in an oven

Members of the public in the county contacted the charity about an exotic animals 773 times in 2018. Nationally in England and Wales, 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.

The RSPCA believes the reason behind some of the suffering of these exotics pets is that owners do not do their research and don’t understand the type and amount of care that they need, resulting in them being neglected, dumped or escaping.

Among the exotic animals the RSPCA was called about in Greater Manchester last year was a snake found inside an oven in Stockport.

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This snake was found hiding in an oven

The snake slithered into a home in Hazel Grove, giving a couple a fright when they went to put chips in the oven.

RSPCA inspector Andy Harris said: “When I arrived I expected to find a small corn snake but this snake was quite long - at least three foot. It was an African brown house snake, which is a non-venomous species, so I suspect that he is a pet that has been abandoned or escaped.

“It must have squeezed through a wall cavity of this couple’s home and there is a hole at the back of the oven where the gas jets come up so was probably attracted by the warmth. It was lucky the couple didn’t pre-heat the oven first.”

The snake was named Sammy by the specialist reptile keeper who adopted the reptile. The original owner of the snake has never been found.

Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA Senior Scientific Officer for exotics, 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 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. 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 over 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. In Greater Manchester, officers rescued 228 exotic pets in 2018.

Last year, the RSPCA received 25,104 calls reporting cruelty, neglect, injury and suffering of all animals in Greater Manchester, including 7,300 about cats, 7,907 about dogs and 791 about horses.

Across England and Wales in 2018, the number of calls the RSPCA received to its 24-hour cruelty hotline about all animals increased by 13% from 2017 to 1,175,193 calls.

For information about the exotic animals looking for a home at the RSPCA, visit www.rspca.org.uk/findapet and to learn more about how to care for these animals, see our animal care sheets.