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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 02:06 GMT


An iguana is also for life

On the run near Bristol: An iguana escaped through a cat-flap

The RSPCA is appealing for a clampdown on the trade in exotic pets after a big increase in cruelty to creatures like lizards and snakes.

The BBC's Tim Hirsch: "A victim of ignorance and neglect, this iguana has been permanently deformed"
The animal welfare charity says there has also been a big rise in the number of inexperienced owners getting into trouble with pets they do not know how to look after.

Over the last 12 months, the RSPCA has secured almost three times as many convictions against pet shop owners and staff as in the previous year.

Cases include:

  • A young male squirrel monkey which had been fed on Cornish pasties and chips and was near death when it was rescued by the RSPCA in Somerset last month.

  • An eight-foot Burmese python which was kept in its owner's bed in a small flat in Slough, Berkshire. A Burmese python can grow up to 18ft long and needs a room-sized enclosure.

  • Two Lancashire men who were banned from running a pet shop for two years after 780 rodents and rabbits were found in squalid conditions.

  • A royal python, a leopard gecko and a tokay gecko which were rescued by the RSPCA after they were discovered severely underweight in a Sunderland pet shop.

  • A pet shop owner in Leeds was fined £4,500 and ordered to pay £15,500 costs after he was found guilty of nine charges of causing unnecessary suffering to stock in his care.

  • An eight-foot python has never been found after it escaped during a break-in at an unlicensed pet shop in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

    [ image: Interesting people choose interesting pets]
    Interesting people choose interesting pets
    Scorpions, snakes and tarantulas were also being held in unsafe cages.

    On Tuesday, a search was launched in Yate, near Bristol, for a four-foot-long iguana which escaped from its owner's house by crawling through a catflap.

    Police warned people not to approach the reptile, which could have inflicted a serious bite if cornered.

    The giant lizard was finally discovered in a neighbour's garden and is now being warmed up under sunlamps.

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