Ad Enough: The Cost-Of-Living Crisis Is Forcing Exotic Pet Owners To Abandon Their Animals
The cost-of-living crisis is forcing exotic pet owners to abandon their animals as they struggle to afford expensive equipment needed to keep them.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it is braced for a surge in abandonments in animals such as snakes and bearded dragons as higher electricity bills start landing on people’s doormats in the United Kingdom.
But as owners struggle to afford keeping their costly ultraviolet (UV) and heat lamps on, reptile shop owner Charles Thompson, 41, has already seen a spike in dumped reptiles.
Thompson, who owns Snakes ‘n Adders in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in Northern England, has noticed the number of bearded dragons he’s taken in double since energy prices soared.
And he says he’s had people turn up at his shop with animals they’ve found abandoned in the wild.
He said: “A lady was driving up the A57 [highway], when somebody said to her ‘I’m sure there was a bearded dragon just there on the side of the road’, she turned around then sat there was a bearded dragon.
“They retrieved it, didn’t know what to do with it and brought it straight to us.
“We kept it for three weeks, made sure it was feeding fine and announced it was available for re-homing.”
The married dad-of-two said one woman went into her garden and found two reusable shopping bags that had been thrown over the garden.
She opened them to find a bearded dragon and baby horn frog.
Thompson said he would normally take in around three bearded dragons a month, but that number had almost doubled in recent months.
Bearded dragons are one of the most expensive reptiles to look after, due to their need for ultra-violet lights, thermostats, and heaters.
But Thompson has urged hard-up owners to take their animals to a reptile shop rather than dump them if they can’t afford the up-keep.
He added: “What a stupid thing to do, I’m annoyed and frustrated. Why would you do it? It is complete stupidity.
“Particularly when there is a network of shops up and down the country, with reptile sections, you could have surrendered the animals to.
“It’s just totally irresponsible, it’s a ridiculous thing to have done.
“Shops will break their neck to make sure an animal doesn’t go unwanted.
“We will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the animal.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals released a statement saying: “The RSPCA is concerned about exotic pets whose owners are affected by the rise in the cost of living.
“We are braced for a surge in abandonments once higher electricity bills start landing on people’s doormats.
“Unfortunately many people are unaware of how much of a commitment exotic pets are when they take them on.
“Our officers are often called out to deal with hundreds of animals every year which have sadly been abandoned when their owners can no longer meet their needs.
“And with prices rising, this problem is likely to get worse.
“At the RSPCA, we are only too aware of the costs of keeping exotic pets.
“With up to 200 exotic animals being looked after at any one time at the RSPCA Brighton’s Reptile Rescue​ alone, there can be more than 100 vivariums plugged in for 24 hours a day, using huge amounts of power for UV and heat sources.”