The exotic animals being rescued by a Wiltshire reptile fanatic

The founder of an exotic animal rescue shelter in Wiltshire has named the rarest creature he has had to rehome.

Steve Todman of Marlborough set up Wiltshire Reptile Rescue in 2021 from home during the middle of the Covid pandemic.

After 15 years of breeding animals beforehand, he chose to set up the shelter to help those in need during the pandemic as some animals became too costly to maintain.

“I have been interested since I was a little kid as my nan bought me books about exotic animals,” said Steve.

Swindon Advertiser: Steve's interest grew after his grandmother bought him exotic animal books when he was a child.

Steve's interest grew after his grandmother bought him exotic animal books when he was a child. (Image: Abi Rose)

“I founded it to help anyone with rehoming or husbandry needs for more exotic pets.

“When the cost of living crisis hit there was more animals in need so I decided it was a necessary action to take.”

The 33-year-old manages the self-funded operation that only charges fees when the animals find a new home.

“We cater to anything from lizards to snakes to tarantulas and currently there are 23 different animals of different species waiting to be rehomed,” said Steve.

“I have vets call me and ask me to take in animals as well as previous owners because I have lots of enclosures and multiple qualifications in animal care.

“There was a lack of reptile rescue homes in Wiltshire and even though it takes up a lot of my time, I love interacting and working with them.”

The operation has seen around 200 animals rehomed over the last two years but some of the exotic creatures are rarer than others.

“The rarest animal we have ever had at the rescue home was a golden mantella frog,” said Steve.

“It is a species of dart frog native to Madagascar which is critically endangered.

“We also have had an arctic glow boa constrictor snake but these types of animals tend to stay in the rescue home the longest as they are massively overbred.”

Taking care of these animals requires a lot of effort and therefore not everyone can take them home from the shelter with strict rules in place for eligibility.

“My daily jobs are water bowl changes, tank cleaning and feeding the lizards but the snakes only eat once a week,” said Steve.

“People have to provide proof of knowledge on the species they wish to adopt and show that they have a suitable enclosure.”