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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Keeping wild animals

You need a licence to keep certain animals that are considered to be wild or dangerous. If you are intending to get a wild animal or a hybrid, find out if you need a licence and how to apply.

Animals you need a licence for

Contact your council if you keep animals in a zoo or pet shop

Under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, you need a licence to keep many types of animals. These include some kinds of snakes, spiders, monkeys, and some dog and cat species. You need to have the licence before you get the animal.

If you keep animals in a zoo or pet shop, you will need a different kind of licence. Your local council can give you more information on this.

You can see exactly which wild animals you need a licence for on the legislation.co.uk website.

Crosses of wild and domesticated animals

Animals that are a mix of wild and domesticated species are known as hybrids. You will need a licence for some hybrid species, depending on how far removed your animal is from its wild ancestor.

For example, the Bengal cat is a cross between the domestic cat and the wild Asian leopard cat. If you have a Bengal cat that is several generations removed from the Asian leopard cat, your local council might decide you don’t need a licence for it.

Wolf-dog hybrids might need a licence, depending on how far removed the animal is from its wolf ancestor.

Find out more on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website, or ask your local council for more specific advice.

How to get a licence

You should apply to your local council for a licence to keep a wild animal. You can search for ‘wild animal licence’ on your local council’s website to find out how to apply. Many councils have an application form to download.

Your council will need to be satisfied that:

  • you are able to keep your animal in a suitable and secure place
  • your animal won’t cause a nuisance or put the public in danger
  • you are capable of taking proper care of your animal

If you keep an animal that’s covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, but you don’t have a licence for it:

  • you could be liable for a fine 
  • the animal could be taken from you

Bringing animals into the UK

There are many restrictions on bringing animals into the UK, whether they are wild animals or pets. These laws help to protect native wildlife and prevent diseases spreading. Find out about importing animals on the Defra website.

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