The RSPCA is raising concerns about widespread neglect and abandonment of exotic animals following the discovery in an East Sussex town of a chameleon, left for dead among garden waste.
RSPCA inspectors are investigating after the animal was tied in a plastic bag and dumped, before being discovered on Sunday (February 14).
RSPCA inspector Zoe Ballard took the veiled chameleon to a specialist vets for treatment, but sadly nothing could be done to save the exotic and he was put to sleep under veterinary advice.
The RSPCA, based near Horsham, in West Sussex, is experiencing widespread neglect and abandonment of exotic animals across England and Wales and every year the charity takes thousands of calls from members of the public about exotics pets and the number involving reptiles in particular has been steadily rising.
In 2015 the RSPCA received 4,990 calls about reptiles - a 37% increase from ten years ago.
Inspector Ballard said: “The poor little chap was clearly very unwell and to be dumped in a bag in this cold weather is completely unreasonable and inhumane.
“Like many other reptiles, chameleons cannot regulate their own body temperature so rely on the environment they are in to keep at the correct body temperature. They are also very susceptible to infection and they are more at risk when placed into a dank environment.
“This poor chameleon was dumped outside in freezing temperatures and left for dead. This is a terrible thing to do to any animal but it is particularly harmful for a chameleon as they are very sensitive and will suffer when placed in an incorrect environment. The fact that he could not be saved is evidence of that.
“It is a possibility that the owners took on this animal but were unable to provide the care he needs and decided to dump him. We are urging potential owners to thoroughly research what is required in the care of any animal before taking one on, as potential owners need to make sure they can give their animal the environment it needs and they have the facilities, time, financial means and long-term commitment to maintain a good standard of care, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
“It is upsetting that this poor chameleon was so ill there was nothing that could be done for him.”
Anyone with information about this chameleon or how he came to be dumped in the garden in St Helen’s Crescent, Hastings, is urged to contact the RSPCA Inspectorate Appeal Line in confidence on 0300 123 8018 and leave a message for inspector Ballard.
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