Lions, wolves and deadly snakes among animals being kept in private UK properties

Lions, wolves and deadly venomous snakes are among thousands of dangerous animals being kept on private properties across the UK, figures have revealed.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd May 2016, 12:33 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2016, 2:03 pm
A number of species of snake are among the animals featuring on the list.
A number of species of snake are among the animals featuring on the list.

Big cats including 13 tigers, two lions, eight leopards, seven cheetahs and nine pumas are prowling behind the fences of addresses up and down the land, an investigation by the Press Association has found.

Hundreds of poisonous snakes are also being kept, including more than 300 killer cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes.

And lurking beneath the waters of domestic enclosures are 10 alligators, nine crocodiles and 17 caimans - a smaller member of the crocodile family.

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More than 100 councils have given people licences to keep a host of deadly predators, with some keeping a variety of different species at their homes.

Animal welfare experts condemned the findings, saying it was “deeply concerned” at the numbers and that animal welfare was being put at risk.

The data was obtained from freedom of information (FOI) requests sent to every council in the UK, of which 363 replied. In Northern Ireland, the Environment Agency provided the figures for the whole country.

Dangerous wild animals (DWA) licences are granted by councils to allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, providing they have the requisite safety measures at their home and pay a small fee.

The unconventional menageries can be found in several major cities, including London, Swansea, Stoke, Sheffield, Hull and Portsmouth.

Among the more exotic areas is Cornwall, where the council has issued licences for pumas, lynxes, ocelots, lemurs, vipers, ostriches and an assortment of wild cats.

In Central Bedfordshire, meanwhile, wolves, alligators, caimans, black widow spiders, venomous snakes and short-clawed otters are being kept.

Among the most popular dangerous pets are lemurs, a small monkey, 115 of which are kept in domestic settings, while smaller cats, which are often crosses between domestic and larger wild cats, such as Savannahs, are also in high demand.

For those who prefer canine company, wolves are allowed under DWA licences, with 15 registered at UK addresses.

But DWA licences are also issued to properties where animals may be receiving care after being rescued, or living at small private farms, where people keep wild beasts for breeding purposes.

This means that as well as inhabiting garden enclosures, exotic wildlife also grazes on the greens of the British countryside, with 412 bison and more than 2,000 wild boar living in private fields, along with a score of zebras.

The RSPCA said it was concerned that licences too often focus on protecting the public from harm, rather than on the well-being of the animals themselves.

A spokeswoman said: “We are deeply concerned about the number of exotic animals, including dangerous wild animals, now being kept as pets. 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 a realistic pet.”

She added: “Licences for exotic animals classed as Dangerous Wild Animals - such as cobras, ostriches and caiman crocodiles - are granted by local authorities and the details are also held locally. There is no centrally-held list to determine how many are kept across the country. The emphasis of this legislation is on making sure the owner takes reasonable steps to prevent the animal from being a threat to the public, rather than the welfare of the animals concerned.

“Exotic animals have specialist needs and this includes the ones listed on the Dangerous Wild Animals Act list.”

:: Aberdeenshire Council - Three bison, two capuchin monkeys, one ostrich, one serval cat, 45 Bengal cats, one caracal cat, four Asian

leopard cats

:: Aberdeen City Council - One cobra, one rattlesnake, four beaded lizards

:: Aylesbury Vale District Council - Two capuchin monkeys, one Chinese alligator, one Savannah cat, one serval cat

:: Basildon Borough Council - Two capuchin monkeys

:: Basingstoke and Dean Borough - 300 wild boar

:: Bassetlaw District Council - 10 ostriches

:: Bedford Borough Council - Two grey wolves

:: Bolsover District Council - One sidewinder, seven rattlesnakes, six cobras, one copperhead, one Taylor’s cantil, two vipers.

:: Boston Borough Council - One zebra

:: Braintree - 15 wild boar

:: Breckland District Council - Two black and white ruffed lemurs, two clouded leopards, one caiman, one lynx

:: Bridgend County Borough Council - 80 wild boar

:: Broadland District Council - 10 reindeer (up to 30 allowed), two wild boar, six ostriches

:: Broxtowe Borough Council - Two sidewinders, one coral snake, seven rattlesnakes, seven cobras, two cowles shield snakes, two Taylor’s cantil, six vipers, two puff adders, four lemurs

:: Calderdale Council - Two rattlesnakes, two vipers, one puff adder

:: Cannock Chase District Council - Three tigers, two lions

:: Canterbury City Council - One black-capped capuchin, one dwarf caiman

:: Castle Point Borough Council - Two capuchins, one rattlesnake, 10 cobras, three copperheads

:: Central Bedfordshire Council - Two grey wolves, two caimans, three Mississippi alligators, two sidewinders, one rattlesnake, four cobras, four vipers, one puff adder, two death adders, four gila monsters, two short-clawed otters, two black widow spiders

:: Cheshire West and Chester Council - 20 wild boar, three lechwe, one nilgai, one dwarf caiman, four ostriches, two ring-tailed lemurs

:: Chichester District Council - Three black and white ruffed lemurs, two ring-tailed lemurs, two red-ruffed lemurs, two hybrid brown lemurs, four mongoose lemurs, one white-collared brown lemur, two red-bellied lemurs, one red panda, one Brazilian tapir, between 17 to 19 wild boar and 45 piglets

:: City of York Council - Two Savannah cats

:: Conwy County Borough Council - Seven vipers

:: Cornwall Council - Four pumas, one ocelot, three lynxes, two black and white ruffed lemur, three vipers, five ostriches, four jaguarundis, eight serval cats, four Scottish wild cats, three fishing cats, two ring-tailed lemurs, six Malaysian leopard cats

:: Croydon Council - Up to 20 adult snakes licenced, either vipers or montpellier snakes

:: Dacorum Borough Council - Two caimans, one dwarf crocodile, five fat-tailed scorpions, four rattlesnakes, one green mamba, seven cobras,

one ornate cantil, eight vipers, 20 serval cats

:: Denbighshire County Council - One spider monkey, one tamarin, 60 bison

:: Derbyshire Dales District Council - Three ostriches

:: Dover District Council - 76 buthid scorpions, (up to 200 allowed), up to 70 recluse spiders, six widow spiders (70 up to allowed), 70

Brazilian wandering spiders, one Savannah cat

:: Durham County Council - One zebra, 40 bison, one Bengal cat

:: East Ayrshire Council - 13 wild boar

:: East Devon District Council - One ostrich, four lemurs

:: East Hertfordshire District Council - Four cheetahs, two pumas, two Mississippi alligators, four grey wolves

:: East Lindsey District Council - Eight tigers, one puma, three zebras, two reindeer, four camels, three capuchin monkeys, two vervets, 22

ostriches, two emus, one tapir, four lemurs

:: East Lothian Council - 200 wild boars

:: East Northamptonshire Council - Five camels, one capuchin monkey, 15 ostriches, seven ring-tailed lemurs, one white-fronted lemur, five

crab-eating macaques

:: East Riding of Yorkshire Council - Eight lemurs, eight short-clawed otters, up to 11 capuchin monkeys or ring-tailed lemurs, three Savannah


:: Elmbridge Borough Council - One hybrid Savannah cat, one serval cat

:: Enfield Council - One capuchin monkey, two camels, eight lemurs

:: Fife Council - Two rattlesnakes, two cobras, one taipan, one death


:: Great Yarmouth Borough Council - Six ring-tailed lemurs

:: Hambleton District Council - 15 bison, 10 antelope, 200 wild boar, one camel

:: Hartlepool Borough Council - One capuchin monkey

:: Herefordshire Council - Three zebras, two vipers

:: Hertsmere Borough Council - Two Savannah cats

:: The Highland Council - Three wild boar (four allowed)

:: Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council - One capuchin monkey

:: Hull City Council - Five rattlesnakes, seven cobras, six vipers, one Massassauga

:: Huntingdonshire District Council - Six crocodiles, one ostrich, three Savannah cats

:: Isle of Wight Council - One black and white ruffed lemur

:: Islington Council - Two rattlesnakes, one copperhead, 14 vipers

:: Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council - One Savannah cat

:: Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council - 11 wild boar, 20 ostriches, a maximum of 116 antelopes, four tapirs

:: Kirklees Council - One Asian leopard cat and five hybrid Asian leopard cats.

:: Maidstone Borough Council - One llama

:: Medway Council - One caiman, three capuchin monkeys

:: Melton Borough Council - 180 bison

:: Mid Devon District Council - One wild boar, one Savannah cat

:: Mid Suffolk District Council - One serval cat

:: Milton Keynes Council - Six capuchin monkeys

:: Mole Valley District Council - Five heloderma

:: Monmouthshire County Council - A maximum of eight bison, a maximum of five vipers, cobras, helodermas and crocodilians, a maximum of 16


:: Moray council - Four serval cats and eight Savannah cats

:: Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council - One zebra

:: New Forest District Council - Two wild boar, 20 wild boar sows and 140 wild boar piglets

:: North Hertfordshire District Council - Four ring-tailed lemurs

:: North East Derbyshire Council - 25 buthidae scorpions

:: North Kesteven District Council - Three caiman, one dwarf crocodile, three ring-tailed lemurs, up to 75 cobras, vipers, cloubridae, gila

monsters or beaded lizards, Up to 50 widow spiders, scorpions or recluse spiders

:: North Lanarkshire Council - Two caimans, two American alligators, two nile crocodiles, two dwarf crocodiles, two rattlesnakes, two cobras,

seven vipers, five gila monsters

:: North Lincolnshire Council - Two Asian leopard cats

:: North Norfolk District Council - 10 reindeer, two camels, two ring-tailed lemurs, two white-faced sakis, seven tapirs,

:: North Somerset Council - Up to eight zebra, wild ass, prezwalski, onager, kiang, kulan or Somali wild ass and Grants hybrid

:: Northern Ireland - Two tigers, one cheetoh, one grey wolf, two emus, four capuchin monkeys, one rattlesnake, four vipers, one adder, 12

ring-tailed lemurs, one gila monster, eight raccoons, two squirrel monkeys, three coatimundi, one kinkajou

:: North West Leicestershire District Council - 20 bison

:: Oldham Council - One caiman, one Bengal cat

:: Pendle Borough Council - Seven ring-tailed lemurs

:: Perth and Kinross Council - Seven Preszwalski, 36 mouflon, six bison, 35 wild boar, two elk, two Savannah cats, one serval cat

:: Peterborough City Council - One Asian leopard cat and a maximum of 30 hybrid Bengal cats

:: Portsmouth City Council - One coral snake, three rattlesnakes, five cobras, three vipers, one puff adder

:: Powys County Council - One ostrich

:: Purbeck District Council - Four wild boar and thirty sow

:: Redditch Borough Council - One rattlesnake, one cobra, five vipers, one puff adder, four beaded lizards

:: Reigate and Banstead Borough Council - One caiman, one nile crocodile

:: Rochdale Borough Council - One dwarf caiman, one serval cat

:: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council - One Bengal cat

:: Rutland County Council - Four amur leopard, two persian leopards, one African hybrid leopard, 17 ostriches

:: Salford City Council - Two capuchin monkeys

:: Scarborough Borough Council - Six camels

:: Scottish Borders Council - 14 black and white ruffed lemurs, six ring-tailed lemurs

:: Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council - One black mamba, six cobras, one viper, one puff adder, four rattlesnakes

:: Sevenoaks District Council - One Savannah cat

:: Sheffield City Council - One dwarf caiman

:: Shropshire Council - Six wolves, one jerval, two Savannah cats, one zebra, one camel, two capuchin monkeys, two gibbons

:: South Derbyshire District Council - One Asian leopard cat

:: South Gloucestershire Council - One Mississippi alligator, two caimans, two rattlesnakes, one cobra, five vipers, four adult ostriches

plus young

:: South Holland District Council - One serval cat, two spider monkeys

:: South Kesteven District Council - Three Savannah cats , one caracal, seven serval cats, five Asian leopard cats

:: South Lakeland District Council - Three cheetahs, 150 wild boar

:: South Norfolk Council - One zebra, one asian leopard cat

:: South Somerset District Council - One zebra, 20 bison, 100 wild boar, three camels

:: South Tyneside - One Bengal cat, one Asian leopard cat

:: Stafford Borough Council - Six camels

:: Stevenage Borough Council - A total of five gila monsters and beaded lizard

:: Stirling Council - 56 wild boar

:: Stoke-on-Trent City Council - Two dwarf caiman, 30 elapids (the family of snake including cobras and mambas), vipers or colubrids (the

family of snake including boomslangs), six black widow spiders

:: Stroud District Council - 10 cobras, three vipers, two taipans, two short-clawed otters

:: Swale Borough Council - One caiman, two sidewinders, two cobras, two copperheads, one viper

:: Swansea City and County Council - A maximum of two pumas, cougars or mountain lions

:: Tandridge District Council - One zebra

:: Teignbridge District Council - Three ostriches

:: Telford and Wrekin Council - One ocelot, one dwarf crocodile, two rattlesnakes, 18 cobras, two widow spiders, four ring-tailed lemurs

:: Tendring District Council - 36 wild boar

:: Thanet District Council - One rattlesnake, one cobra

:: Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council - Two short-clawed otters

:: Torridge District Council - One serval cat

:: Vale of White Horse District Council - One rattlesnake, four cobras, four vipers, one inland taipan, one black mamba, two green mambas

:: Wakefield Metropolitan District Council - One rattlesnake, three cobras, one viper, eight ostriches

:: Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council - One Chinese alligator, 25 puff adders, rattlesnakes, vipers or cobras, two gila monsters, four beaded


:: Waverley Borough Council - One European adder

:: West Dorset District Council - One caiman, 14 wild boar

:: West Lancashire Borough Council - Eight ostriches, 12 emus

:: West Suffolk councils (St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council) - Seven lynxes, four serval cats, two caracals,

two jaguaraundis, one fishing cat, three African hunting dogs, two bobcats, one tayra

:: Westminster City Council - One Savannah cat

:: Wiltshire Council - Two camels, 60 bison, a maximum of 900 wild boar, two capuchin monkeys

:: Winchester City Council - One ocelot, two dwarf crocodiles, three gila monsters

:: Wychavon District Council - Five rattlesnakes, three copperheads, five vipers, eight ring-tailed lemurs, four beaded lizards

:: Wycombe District Council - 13 blackbucks, one sitatunga, two black and white ruffed lemurs, two ring-tailed lemurs, two red-ruffed lemurs,

two tapirs

:: Wyre Borough Council - One fishing cat