Wild animals including lions, tigers, crocodiles, rattlesnakes and zebras are being kept legally on private property across the UK, figures have revealed. More than 100 councils have issued licences to people who keep undomesticated animals at home, a freedom of information request has found. The FOI request was sent to every council in the UK, of which 363 replied.
It also showed more than 300 cobras, vipers and rattlesnakes are being kept.
Animal welfare experts have expressed concern at the findings.
Dangerous wild animals 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 fee.
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.
The figures supplied by the councils only collate details of animals being kept legally with a licence, but not any that are being kept without the proper authorisation.
A RSPCA spokeswoman said they were "deeply concerned" about the figures.
"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."