can you keep a crocodile as a pet?

Can you have a crocodile as a pet in the UK?

Have you ever wondered if you could actually keep a crocodile as a pet on these non-tropical shores? The answer might surprise you. Yes, in theory you can keep a crocodile in the UK. But you need to declare it and have a licence.

We investigate what being the keeper of an exotic reptile like a crocodile really involves. And we look at whether you should leave looking after these swamp-loving fiends to the zoos and experts.

What is the law concerning keeping animals like crocodiles at home?

The licence and law covering these sorts of animals is the Dangerous Wild Animals Act (1976). As the name might suggest, you need a Government-regulated DWA licence to be able to keep certain animals considered to be wild, dangerous or exotic. 

What species of animals or reptiles are considered dangerous in the UK?

Everything from Tasmanian devils (yes, we thought they were just cartoon characters too!) and Gibbons, to Widow Spiders and Sea Snakes are on the official dangerous and wild animals list. And as you might have guessed, crocodiles, alligators, caimans and the gharial all make the list too.

They might look cute, but is keeping a crocodile at home as a pet a good idea?

How many crocodiles are kept as pets in the UK?

To give you an idea of the sort of numbers we’re talking about, the 2021 survey carried out by the wild animal welfare charity Born Free, discovered there are 158 crocodilians kept as pets. The survey only took in account those registered and with a licence. 

How do you get a licence for a crocodile?

The process involves applying to your local council and adhering to strict conditions regarding their habitat. You have to ensure that having them in your home poses no risk to the public and that the animal’s welfare is safeguarded. It is a detailed and lengthy administrative process.

So, is it a good idea to have a crocodile as a pet, or are they just too dangerous?

In addition to the need to have a licence for your croc or gator, let’s see if owning a crocodilian is straightforward. One thing for certain is that it is not for amateurs. Crocodiles, caimans and alligators all need a certain habitat, so the chances are you’ll have to adapt your home to suit your snappy friends. 

The most important factors are temperature, lighting, humidity, diet and having access to both aquatic and terrestrial areas/enclosures. Of course all of this takes skill, money and time. And whilst you don’t need any specific training, you do need to know what you’re dealing with here. Crocs are classed as dangerous animals after all.

What does a pet crocodile eat?

In terms of diet, young crocodilians will have more feeds, whereas an adult might only need feeding once a week. They should have a balanced diet of fish and meat, so expect to be buying steaks from the supermarket for your crocs and gators.

How big can a pet crocodile get?

Now this is where many a reptile lover has come unstuck. What starts off as a cute-as-can-be little croc in the palm of your hand, ends up outgrowing it’s vivarium very quickly. 

To give you an idea, spectacled caimans (one of the most popular crocodilian species to keep as a pet), can grow up to around 7ft long. A Mississippi alligator could easily reach 12ft, so there’s no way that’s going to fit in your bathtub.

And how old does a pet crocodile live to be?

You need to be ready to be in it for the long haul if you decide to share your home with a croc. That’s because they have a lifespan of anything from 40 to 100 years.

I still want a crocodilian as a pet…

If you’re 100% committed to caring for your very own crocodile, we’d advise you to meet some crocodiles before you commit. There are reptile centres the length and the breadth of the UK, many of whom host guided tours and feeding experiences.

OK I think you’re right. I’d just like to meet the crocs, not have one in my own home as a pet!

Good decision! You could try a Crocodile Encounter. You will be splashing about in an outside pool with Ali G the Mississippi alligator and his mate Gadget. The experience is hosted by expert reptile keepers in the Bristol area.

They also look after snakes, so why not book in for a combo experience to meet and greet the crocs and the venomous snakes?

So to conclude, it is legally possible to keep a crocodile as a pet…

In theory yes, but we wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll need to be a very well informed reptile lover to be able to give these animals the care and attention they need to lead a happy, snappy life with you!

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