Cost of living crisis: owners struggle to afford UV lamps and heaters needed for reptiles
The cost-of-living crisis is forcing exotic pet owners to abandon their animals as they struggle to afford expensive equipment needed to keep them.
And as owners struggle to afford keeping their costly UV and heat lamps on, reptile shop owner Charles Thompson, 41, has already seen a spike in dumped reptiles.
Charles, who owns Snakes 'N' Adders in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, has noticed the number of bearded dragons he has taken in has doubled since energy prices soared.
And he says he's had people turn up to his shop with animals they've found after they were left in the wild.
He said: 'A lady was driving up the A57, when somebody said to her "I'm sure there was a bearded dragon just there on the side of the road", she turned around then sat there was a bearded dragon.
'They retrieved it, didn't know what to do with it and brought it straight to us.
'We kept it for three weeks, made sure it was feeding fine and announced it was available for rehoming.'
The married father-of-two said one woman went into her garden and found two bags for life that had been thrown over the garden.
She opened them to find a bearded dragon and baby horned frog.
He said he would normally take in around three bearded dragons a month but that number had almost doubled in recent months.
Bearded dragons are one of the most expensive reptiles to look after, due to them needing UV lights, thermostats and heaters.
But Charles has urged hard-up owners to take their animals into a reptile shop rather than dump them if they can't afford the up-keep.
He added: 'What a stupid thing to do, I'm annoyed and frustrated. Why would you do it? It is complete stupidity.
'Particularly when there is a network of shops up and down the country, with reptile sections, you could have surrendered the animals to.
'It's just totally irresponsible, it's a ridiculous thing to have done.
'Shops will break their neck to make sure an animal doesn't go unwanted.
'We will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of the animal.'