Emu and boaconstrictorabandoned
AN EMU and boa constrictor are just some of the exotic animals rescued by the RSPCA in Hampshire this year.
In 2018 the animal welfare charity received 490 calls from across the region about neglected, abandoned and stray exotic animals.
Nationally, the charity received 15,790 calls which equates to more than 40 a day.
In May 2018, a three-year-old emu named Elvis was rescued by the Hampshire branch of the RSPCA. Elvis was purchased on eBay as a fertile egg with the baby emu then housed with chickens in a small back garden.
The charity became aware of Elvis’s plight after being contacted by a member of the public who was concerned about the bird’s welfare.
Specialist animal collection officers visited the property and spoke with the owner who agreed it would be better for Elvis to be relocated to a home with with more space.
Exotics collection officer, Phil Hamilton, said: ‘It was a logistical nightmare getting Elvis from Hampshire to a specialist centre in Gloucestershire where he was offered a permanent home with another emu. Access to the garden was difficult and we had to be extremely careful loading him as we didn’t want him to escape onto the housing estate.’
One of the main concerns for Elvis was the absence of interaction with other emus.
‘We transferred him to his new home where he is now living with a female emu called Cilla. Elvis had been strongly imprinted with humans, having never seen another emu. Both birds instinctively ran to each other and are now doing really well. It was lovely to see.’
In a separate case an 8ft boa constrictor was found in an allotment in Andover.
Phil, who rescued the snake, said: ‘It’s hard to know how this snake came to be in the allotment but it must have been a surprise to find a boa constrictor in amongst the garden tools.The snake may have escaped or been abandoned. Being outdoors in the UK could potentially be really serious for a snake as their body can’t function normally if they become too cold.’
The RSPCA believes the neglect of these exotic pets is down to a lack of knowledge and expertise.
Phil added: ‘Owners don’t sufficiently research the animals needs and don’t understand the type and amount of care required. As a result, animals escape are abandoned or neglected.’
The situation in Hampshire has been replicated nationally with over 4,000 exotic animals having to be rescued in 2018. RSPCA rescues included 500 snakes, more than 300 turtles, 145 bearded dragons, five raccoon dogs, four marmosets and one wallaby.
Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA’s senior scientific officer in exotics and an exotics vet, said: ‘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 reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet. Some species can grow very large, live for a long time or require a licence to be legally kept or sold. Many of the animals we’re called to help are found stray outside, where they can very quickly suffer in the cold.’
The situation with exotic pets is just part of a bigger problem of animal welfare in Hampshire. Figures released by the RSPCA showed they investigated 3,752 cases of animal cruelty in Hampshire last year.
The charity have urged anyone thinking of purchasing an exotic pet to thoroughly research their needs and ask for support if required.