Reptile house

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The RSPCA is worried about animals that are "exotic, dangerous and out of control". Rightly, it would seem. The herpetological horror stories they have brought to light are certainly just as frightening as the crocodiles, puff adders and anacondas they feature. Alligators in the bath, terrapins in the rabbit hutch, sidewinders in the kitchen; all scaly life is there, all ready to give the unwary a nasty nip.

The RSPCA is worried about animals that are "exotic, dangerous and out of control". Rightly, it would seem. The herpetological horror stories they have brought to light are certainly just as frightening as the crocodiles, puff adders and anacondas they feature. Alligators in the bath, terrapins in the rabbit hutch, sidewinders in the kitchen; all scaly life is there, all ready to give the unwary a nasty nip.

They also tell us much about human nature. It is hard to believe that anyone would buy an "exotic lizard" in a pub in Essex for £20 and not expect (if the expression can be excused) to be sold a pup - or rather a juvenile spectacled caiman croc growing to 12ft at maturity. And who could reasonably expect affection, let alone loyalty, from a funnel-web spider?

The 3,761 cases of exotic animal abuse handled by the RSPCA last year suggest there is something very powerful as well as very odd about the attraction of these creatures. The appeal it would seem, starts early. Hagrid, gamekeeper of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, once bought a baby dragon from a stranger which grew bigger and bigger. As we approach the festive season, let us remember: a gaboon viper is for life, not just for Christmas.

Comments