Reptile rescuers in need of support

PUBLISHED: 14:35 04 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:35 04 March 2016

Safe Haven Exotics owner Marc Harris with bearded dragons Romeo and Juliet

Safe Haven Exotics owner Marc Harris with bearded dragons Romeo and Juliet


North Devon’s recently opened reptile sanctuary has been overwhelmed with new additions.

A reptile rescue and conservation centre is looking for donations following a huge intake of creatures needing rescue.

Since opening to the public in August last year, Safe Haven Exotics, on the outskirts of Bishops Tawton has taken in more than 40 new reptiles from owners who can no longer look after them.

The centre is now home to snakes, tortoises, iguanas and chamaleons to name a few.

All but four of the animals have been rescued in the South West.

Members of the public who visit the centre are able to hold many of the reptiles and find out more about them.

Marc Harris, who runs the centre alongside his wife Leanne, said the uptake was ‘just unbelievable.’

He added: “Most of them are bearded dragons, they’re the most common along with cornsnakes because they’re sold as pets for kids.

“The kid then gets bored and we end up with them.”

Among the not-for-profit centre’s new additions are Romeo and Juliet, two bearded dragons found in a garage in Barnstaple that had been abandoned by their previous owner.

“They were just skin and bone, a mess,” said Mr Harris.

The couple are now back to a state of good health, following extensive work at the rescue centre.

“We worked day and night to get them to where they are now” he added.

Now the rescue centre is in need of support due to the volume of new inhabitants.

Mr Harris continued: “Anything like wood, sponges, dustbin liners just helps us out.

“With us taking all these animals in, the more we need help.”

“We’re not a zoo like Exmoor or Paignton, these are all animals that are unwanted.”

“Unless you’re 100 per cent interested in exotic animals, they’re not a pet like a hamster, guinea pig or rabbit.

“What people want is an instant pet, but a lot of people don’t realise that these are still wild animals at heart even if they’re captive bred.”

Safe Haven Exotics is open every day from 10am - 5pm. For more information click here

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