Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: the dangerous animals we're keeping as pets

By Jack Hardy

Tigers, a wolf and a gila monster are among the exotic and dangerous animals being kept on private properties in Northern Ireland, figures have revealed.

An investigation by the Press Association has found that lurking behind the gates of pet owners in the province are a host of all creatures great and small.

As well as a grey wolf, two tigers and a cheetah, there are two emus, and three coatimundi - which are related to the raccoon.

There is also one oddly-named kinkajou, which looks like a small primate but is also a cousin of the raccoon.

There are six monkeys in private hands - four capuchin and two squirrel - as well as 12 ring-tailed lemurs.

Reptiles are also popular, with Northern Ireland home to a rattlesnake, four vipers, one adder and a gila monster - a type of venomous lizard.

The investigation covered the whole of the UK and found that hundreds of poisonous snakes are being kept, including more than 300 killer cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes.

And hiding beneath the waters of domestic enclosures are 10 alligators, nine crocodiles and 17 caimans - a smaller member of the crocodile family.

More than 100 councils have given people licences to keep a host of deadly predators, with some keeping a variety of species at their homes.

Animal welfare experts condemned the findings, saying it was "deeply concerned" at the numbers and that animal welfare was being put at risk.

Dangerous wild animals (DWA) licences are granted by councils to allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, providing they have the requisite safety measures at their home.

The RSPCA said it was concerned that licences too often focus on protecting the public from harm, rather than on the well-being of the animals.

A spokeswoman said: "We are deeply concerned about the number of exotic animals, including dangerous wild animals, being kept as pets. People may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and they are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home."

Belfast Telegraph


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