The RSPCA is warning people about keeping exotic pets after a large monitor lizard was made homeless in Newcastle.
Rex the Asian Water Monitor lizard was signed over to the animal charity because his owner could no longer look after him.
After a change of circumstances, Rex’s owner did not have the space or equipment to keep the large reptile, which from head to tail, measures over one metre long.
Go here for the very latest breaking news updates from across the North East
RSPCA Exotics Officer, Inspector Lucy Green said: “This large Asian Water Monitor had nowhere to go after his owner had to move away.
“The owner had no choice but to regretfully sign Rex over to us.
“Given the complex requirements of exotic pets such as this, we were lucky to be able to find Rex a space at a specialist facility where he will live out his natural life.”
Caring for exotic pets can be challenging, the RSPCA says.
Exotic animals have the same needs as animals of the same species in the wild, which means their wild habitat needs to be recreated as closely as possible.
Often the cost of the equipment required is much higher than that of the individual animal.
Potential keepers need 5to be aware of the adult size, how long it will live or whether it requires paperwork to be legally kept or sold before getting one.
Lucy added: “While Rex’s keeper kept him adequately, it only took a change in his circumstances for everything to go wrong.
“Unfortunately, we have to rescue many exotic pets because people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on.
“Because of the challenges of keeping animals such as this, the decision to keep an exotic pet should not be taken lightly.
“We encourage people who are thinking about taking on an exotic pet to research the needs of the particular species thoroughly and ensure they can meet them at all times for the lifetime of the animal.
“These particular lizards can live for up to twenty-five years and at two years old, Rex still has a lot of growing before he reaches his full size of up to two metres.
“Before acquiring an exotic pet, we would encourage people to talk to experts on the particular species they wish to keep and to join member societies where there are experienced keepers who can help if they are struggling.
“Specialist vets are also an excellent source of support and advice for owners.”
For more information from the RSPCA about keeping exotic pets please visit the charity’s website here.
For the latest local breaking news direct to your inbox as it happens, go here to sign up to our free newsletter