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OcelotGETTY

People have bought wildcats like ocelots on the internet

Powerful snakes, glamorous wild cats, modern-day dinosaurs and even cute hedgehogs have been up for sale in the countdown to the festive spending spree, creating serious animal welfare fears.

Television, film and celebrity culture are fuelling the demand for more exotic animals, and with a simple click of a mouse, shoppers can buy their own menagerie of fascinating creatures on the internet, warn two leading animal welfare organisations.

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Pet charity Blue Cross and the Born Free Foundation are calling for a Government review of the exotic pet trade after conducting an online survey of six websites.

“The Government needs to review the Pet Animals Act as a priority to ensure people are made aware of the issues related to buying exotic pets online

They discovered during a spot check in September there were 25, 000 adverts offering more than 120 types of exotic animal for sale.

What particularly worries animal campaigners are the way adverts have been offering animals in “poor health” or with a history of aggression.

Bearded dragonGETTY

Celebrity culture, internet shopping and television have been blamed for the rise in demand

Equally, very few adverts offered advice on the animals’ history or how to care for them.

After publishing the One Click Away report, the two charities say they are concerned both for the health and welfare of the animals as well public safety because there is little or no regulation over online sales.

GETTY

Animal charities are calling for a review of the trade in exotic pets

They are demanding the laws surrounding the sales of exotic pets brought up to date after discovering such areas of concern as:

  • Adverts not identifying species properly. Of 347 adverts for lizards, 38 per cent did not identify a particular species.
  • One advert for 18 royal pythons described them as “in need of a quick sale”.
  • Animals advertised in “poor health” or offered as swaps.
  • Adverts for wild felines, including ocelots, serval, caracal and leopard cats.

HedgehogThere may be kudos for an owner in having a elusive creature straight from a wildlife documentary but for the animals it can mean disaster.

Blue Cross says in recent years its hospitals have been witnessing a procession of abandoned and injured animals, such as bearded dragons, pygmy hedgehogs and even a ring-tailed lemur.

A pygmy hedgehog was nicknamed Hedgy after being dumped near a rubbish chute of a block of London flats, having lost most of her spines earlier this year.

Two bearded dragons – Teddy and Elliot – were dumped in a London cemetery and had to be treated at a Blue Cross hospital.

Chris Draper, Programmes manager for Captive Wild Animals at the Born Free Foundation, said: “It is truly shocking how many exotic animals and of such diversity are available online, with so many advertised incorrectly or incompletely and with no indication of their often complex needs.

Source: www.express.co.uk

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