The UK’s answer to Joe Exotic could be living in Hull, with the city a hotspot for keeping some of the most dangerous animals on the planet.
The city is ranked fourth in the UK for having dangerous or exotic creatures as pets, according to new research.
Poisonous snakes are the pets of choice for a number of Hull residents, according to the findings by money.co.uk, which approached local councils about the number of licences issued to keep wild, dangerous or exotic animals, for the study.
One licence was also issued in Hull for the keeping of a species of caiman, a small alligator.
In total, the city was found to have issued seven licences under the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act, in the five years from 2016 to 2020 – a licence may cover more than one animal.
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The licences covered the keeping of two West African Gaboon vipers, a venomous snake normally found in the rainforests and savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa.
There were also licences issued for Green Bush and White Lipped Pit vipers, a Montpelier snake, a Cape Coral snake, a Rock rattlesnake, a Copperhead snake and an Indochinese Spitting cobra.
In the case of the latter, venom spit into the eye of an individual causes severe pain and temporary, sometimes permanent blindness while a bite from this snake is potentially deadly to an adult human.
A Hull licence was issued relating to the keeping of a Cuvier’s dwarf caiman, a crocodilian noted as being a particularly popular pet among reptile enthusiasts due to its small adult size (under 5ft).
Hull is listed fourth for its ten dangerous or exotic animals, well behind the top-ranking Aberdeen with 106 animals, including scorpions, lizards and snakes; Islington, with 17 animals (all snakes), and Telford, with 11 animals, including two ocelots, scorpions and spiders.
Of the councils that responded to the research, the most commonly held animals were scorpions, with 107 applications across the country.
Snakes were also popular, with 40 licences for various species of the cold-blooded reptiles. The most common of these was the Green Bush viper, with ten owned by residents within the responding council areas, including one in Hull.
Native to west and central Africa, its venomous bite means a licence is needed to keep one in the UK.
Money.co.uk decided to look into the keeping of wild, dangerous or exotic animals in the UK, inspired by Netflix’s true crime documentary series, Tiger King, following private zookeeper and convicted felon Joe Exotic, who kept over 50 species of endangered and exotic animals at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, including more than 200 big cats such as tigers, lions, pumas, and more.
“But is the UK home to its very own Joe Exotic wannabes?” said a money.co.uk spokesperson.
“For these kinds of dangerous and exotic pets, it’s not just the usual costs such as vet bills and pet insurance that you need to worry about, you actually need to hold a special licence, too.
“We’ve submitted Freedom of Information requests to councils around the UK to find out how many licences are held to keep wild, dangerous, or exotic animals and which species are being kept.”