The RSPCA received more than 161 emergency calls about exotic animals last year in Northamptonshire, new figures show.
The charity says the figures reveal the plight of unusual animals are being poorly kept by owners who adopt or buy them without properly researching how to care for them
It has led to sad cases such as a corn snake who was abandoned in a fish tank in a Northampton garden by an owner who could not care for it.
The snake, which was found in Kent Crescent, had burn marks on his body, infected wounds and a swelling on his tail.
Although the RSPCA was called to treat the snake with antibiotics, he died a few days later.
The original owner who dumped the snake has never been traced.
RSPCA inspector Karl Maston said: "It appears someone took on this snake as a pet but had not thoroughly researched how they should care for the reptile.
“I believe the burns on his body had come from an unsuitable or unguarded heat source. These burns were left untreated and they became infected which ultimately led to the death of the snake.
“If veterinary treatment had been sought I am sure the snake would have been fine.
“It is so sad that someone would just dump their pets when, if they are struggling to cope, could simply call us for help and advice.”
now the charity is calling on Northamptonshire residents to think twice and properly research how to care for the exotic pets they want like lizards, birds and snakes.
Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA Senior Scientific Officer for exotics, said: “Reptiles and other exotic pets are completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including requiring the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet. Many of the animals we’re called to help are found stray outside, where they can very quickly suffer in the cold.
The RSPCA rescued over 4,000 exotic animals in 2018, including more than 500 snakes, more than 300 turtles, 145 bearded dragons, five raccoon dogs and even four marmosets and one wallaby. In Northamptonshire, officers rescued 200 exotic pets in 2018.
For information about the exotic animals looking for a home, visit the RSPCA website, where there are also animal care sheets for how to look after exotic animals.