Cute wild animals are being farmed for Instagram users as RSPCA warns


Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. “Sugar gliders live in Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They naturally spend their lives high up in the trees where they glide for 50m or more between branches.”Fennec foxes are native to northern Africa where they are adapted to live in dry desert environments, roaming over large areas and digging burrows during the day to sleep with their family.”While these animals are incredibly cute we would encourage families to appreciate them as beautiful, wild animals and, if they are able to commit the appropriate time and finances, consider rescuing a domestic pet instead. The RSPCA has thousands of pets in our care who are waiting for a loving new home.” However, the RSPCA and other animal experts have warned that these animals do not make suitable pets as they are wild, and can destroy homes and even die of stress when taken out of their natural habitat.Iris Ho,  a senior specialist for Wildlife Program and Policy at Humane Society International, told the Sunday Telegraph: “The trend towards buying ‘instagrammable’ animals such as fennec foxes and sugar gliders is extremely worrying. Homes are simply not appropriate environments for these wild animals. Born Free’s Head of policy Dr Mark Jones added: “Sugar gliders live in parts of Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia. The transportation of live animals from these countries for international trade may result in significant suffering and death, so by buying the surviving animals, people are contributing to serious animal suffering.“Sugar gliders are nocturnal and highly social. It’s near impossible to provide them with a suitable environment when keeping them in a house as a pet, a world away from their natural habitat. These animals will suffer considerably as a result.”An RSPCA spokesperson said they are frequently dumped after owners realise they cannot meet their needs.  “Exotic, wild animals such as sugar gliders and foxes do not make suitable pets. They have complex, specific needs which are incredibly difficult to meet in a domestic setting. We do see these sorts of animals coming into RSPCA care as people have taken them on without properly understanding their specialist needs having seen them on social media and online. Sugar gliders are popular on Instagram “Purchasing them as pets also fuels the exotic pet trade which rips animals from the wild or breeds them in facilities for commercial profits akin to cruel puppy mills. For every fennec fox or sugar glider purchased in the UK many more have suffered and died in transit, in breeding facilities or from stress or poor treatment when captured in the wild.  Instagram shows a filtered snapshot, and not the immense time, effort and resources it takes to properly care for these animals, or the suffering they go through when kept as pets”. Sugar gliders are popular on Instagram A baby fennec fox A baby fennec foxCredit:Junko Kimura/Getty Images Wild creatures from rainforests and deserts are being farmed and sold as domestic pets as Instagram users seek ‘cute’ pictures for their social media feeds.Welfare charities have warned exotic animals likes sugar gliders and fennec foxes are not suitable pets and they are often bred in cruel, “puppy farm” conditions. Sugar gliders are small, inquisitive rainforest-dwelling possums with grey fur, pink noses and starry eyes, and there are hundreds of thousands of posts showing them as pets on Instagram.And some see fennec foxes, non-domesticated desert animals with large, pointy ears and a cartoonish face, as an attractive alternative to a dog or a cat. They are also hugely popular on social media.Many websites allow budding pet owners to buy the animals instantly, for as little as £150, with no education about the creatures required before purchase. The Sunday Telegraph has seen online evidence of sugar gliders sold in small hamster cages.

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