Cheetah and ostriches among dangerous wildlife kept as ‘pets’ in Cheshire


A cheetah, ostriches and wild boars are among the “dangerous” pets kept by the people of Cheshire, according to a recent study.

Research by the Born Free animal welfare charity has confirmed that around 4,000 dangerous wild animals are held privately in Britain, 70 of them in Cheshire.

Local county authorities revealed to the charity that DWA (Dangerous Wildlife Animal) licenses had been granted for: four cats including a cheetah and servals, 16 poisonous snakes, 36 wild boars, three lechwe, two ostriches, two Ring-tailed lemurs, two Spectacled Caimans, two scorpions and three poisonous lizards.

Born Free Veterinarian and Policy Officer Dr Mark Jones says, “Born Free has been collecting and analyzing DWA data for over 20 years.

“Since the millennium, the Wild Animal Welfare and Conservation Charity has seen a dramatic increase in the number of privately owned exotic pets, including a 94% increase in the number of poisonous snakes, a 57% increase in feral cats, a 198% increase in crocodilians, and over 2000% increase in scorpions.

“However, these numbers are probably only the tip of the iceberg. They only register animals kept and registered with a DWA license. Born Free believes that many other dangerous wildlife are kept without a license.”

Across Britain, 210 DWA licenses have been granted for the keeping of 3,951 wild animals, including 320 feral cats and 274 primates.

Dr Jones said: ‘It is incredible that in our time so many dangerous animals, including big cats, large primates, crocodiles and poisonous snakes, are in private ownership in the UK. The growing demand for all kinds of wild animals as exotic pets puts owners and the general public at risk of injury or illness.

“It also results in severe animal suffering, and the demand increases the pressure on many wild populations which are often already under threat. “

“The UK likes to pretend to be at the forefront of efforts to protect nature and improve animal welfare, but our legislation governing the keeping and trade of exotic pets is woefully outdated.

“While the recent government proposal to ban the keeping and trading of primates as pets is a welcome first step, many other species need to be protected from this form of exploitation.

“The law on dangerous wild animals should be urgently revised, in order to phase out the private holding and trading of these species which clearly do not belong to people’s homes. “

List of exotic animals in Cheshire

● Four cats including a cheetah and servals

● Sixteen poisonous snakes, including a sawscale viper, an Indochinese spitting cobra and a western diamondback rattlesnake

● Thirty-six wild boars

● Three lechwe

● Two ostriches

● Three ring-tailed lemurs

● Two bespectacled caimans

● Two scorpions – a big tailed scorpion and a death stalker

● Three poisonous lizards including a Gila monster and pearl lizards

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