Wild crocodile-type reptile kept in house in Sheffield

A caiman
A caiman
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Lions, wolves and deadly venomous snakes are among thousands of dangerous animals being kept on private properties across the UK, it has been revealed.

Big cats including 13 tigers, two lions, eight leopards, seven cheetahs and nine pumas are prowling behind the fences of addresses across the country.

In South Yorkshire two dangerous wild animal licences have been issued - for a caiman, which is a smaller member of the crocodile family, in Sheffield and for a Bengal cat in Rotherham.

Dangerous wild animal licences are granted by councils to allow people to keep undomesticated animals as pets, providing they have the necessary safety measures at their home and pay a small fee.

In Cornwall the council has issued licences for pumas, lynxes, ocelots, lemurs, vipers, ostriches and an assortment of wild cats.

In Bedfordshire, wolves, alligators, caimans, black widow spiders, venomous snakes and short-clawed otters are being kept.

Among the most popular dangerous pets are lemurs, a small monkey, 115 of which are kept in domestic settings.

The RSPCA said it was concerned that licences too often focus on protecting the public from harm, rather than on the well-being of the animals themselves.

A spokeswoman said: "We are deeply concerned about the number of exotic animals, including dangerous wild animals, now being kept as pets.

"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."