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Posted by W von Papinešu on October 09, 2002 at 18:23:56:
SOUTH LONDON PRESS (UK) 08 October 02 Snake, rattle and roll at nightclub - A snake living in a nightclub tank has been held up as an example of how not to treat exotic animals. (Vicky Wilks)
The RSPCA has just launched a new drive called Wild at Heart to urge Londoners not to keep such unusual beasts as pets.
It has highlighted several cases where animals have been kept in in appropriate conditions including a 6ft-long, snake living in a Clapham nightclub.
The American four-lined rat snake lived beside the dance floor of Infernos on Clapham High Street until sympathetic clubbers complained to the RSPCA.
One of its officers, Inspector Ian Gough said: "This poor animal must have suffered a great deal of stress from the vibrations of music in the club and the constant attention of clubbers."
He said: "A nightclub is not an appropriate home for a snake. Reptiles need specialist care and attention - not loud music vibrations and a constant human audience.
"An exotic animal should not be used as an attraction. The snake was fed live food ranging from mice to hamsters.
"It is unacceptable to feed snakes live food when they will easily eat dead food."
But owner of Infernos, Alex Rutherford, told the South London Press the snake's tank sat on a substantial bed of polystyrene so the creature was protected from harmful vibrations.
He said: "If the RSPCA had looked at the tank properly, rather than just taking the snake away, they would have seen it was not as bad as it looked.
"The conditions it was living in were perfectly sufficient for a snake that size."
The nightclub owner said the snake grew 18 inches during the 10 months it spent in the club.
The reptile was taken from the club by RSPCA inspectors in June and has since been found a new home with a snake expert.
The RSPCA hopes that by highlighting the creature's plight it can deter people from buying exotic animals.
It has had an average of 55 calls every month this year about exotic animals in London being mistreated - in August that figure shot up to nearly 100.
Other examples include a crocodile found in a Dagenham flat and scorpion found in Muswell Hill.
Insp Gough warned: "Exotic animals have special nutritional and environmental needs that make them too complex to be kept as pets. They can grow large and some can become aggressive.
"This is their natural behaviour but doesn't mix with people's perception of how a pet should behave.
"The message is simple - exotic animals do not make good pets."