RSPCA receives hundreds of calls about exotic animals in Derbyshire
The RSPCA received more than 340 calls about exotic animals in Derbyshire last year, new statistics show
Of the calls, officers rescued 71 exotic pets during 2018, according to the figures which were released by the animal welfare charity on Thursday.
The RSPCA is encouraging anyone thinking about getting an exotic pet - including snakes, turtles and bearded dragons - to do their research.
It has also been revealed that the RSPCA received 9,949 calls last year reporting cruelty, neglect, injury and suffering of all animals in Derbyshire - including 2,605 about cats, 3,199 about dogs and 663 about horses.
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Baby tarantulas dumped in car park
Among the exotic animals the RSPCA was called about in Derbyshire last year were Brazilian bird-eating tarantulas which were dumped in a car park.
Babies were contained in some of 10 pots which were found discarded at the side of the car park at Bateman's Yard Stable in Birchwood Lane, Somercotes, in July last year.
Two of the larger pots were run over by a vehicle and it is thought the adults may have been in these and escaped. If any have escaped they are not likely to survive for long in the UK climate as they prefer hot and humid conditions.
The abandoned spiders would have died in the pots had they not been found.
RSPCA inspector Kristy Ludlam, who attended the scene, said: "It appears someone ran over two of the pots and the driver told the woman who called us he thought he saw two larger spiders. No bodies were found so it is assumed they may have escaped.
"We collected all the pots and took them to a specialist who found three baby arachnids in them which he believes are bird-eating spiders - in fact when he opened one pot a spider ran up his arm."
The person who dumped the tarantulas has not been traced.
The Brazilian bird-eating tarantula is one of the largest in the world - with a leg span about the size of a dinner plate.
'Real concerns' about welfare of exotic animals in country
Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA senior scientific officer for exotics, said: "Although their numbers are small compared to more common pets, 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 completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including requiring the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet. Many of the animals we're called to help are found stray outside, where they can very quickly suffer in the cold.
"These animals are commonly found for sale in pet shops and are advertised online. At least in the past, animals have often been handed over to buyers with little or no information about how to care for them properly, although new regulations in England should improve this. In some cases, we believe owners take them on simply because they believe they will be easier to care for than other pets, but it is essential that people research what is required in the care of their pet, from food, equipment, environment and vet care, before taking one on. We would also urge them to ask for help if they're struggling to meet their needs.
"We believe that people may buy them with little idea of how difficult they can be to keep and the animals are sometimes neglected when the novelty wears off and the commitment hits home. This is why we would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal’s needs and whether they're the right pet for them."