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Saturday 2 December 2023

If You Believe You Have Evidence of "Big Cats" In The UK or Wolverines GET IN TOUCH


Over a period of four months, starting in May, I asked British 'big cat' groups what they had that they considered to be the best evidence of large cats in the UK and asked them to share that evidence so that it could be analysed -basically peer reviewed and confirmed or explained (if it could be).

This page would get them a lot of views of their evidence and having started working on exotic species in 1976 and being a "noted naturalist" specialising in felids as well as canids and mustelids I could offer analysis as well as forward anything to other experts to look at.

All groups, obviously, would be credited.

Not one single taker.

That speaks volumes and it is quite sad considering I have no doubt that there is more hard evidence out there and I have certainly gathered enough. Therefore, I'm interested in anyone who has real evidence and you can contact me on this blog or via the EAR Face Book page messenger). Anonymity guaranteed.

Friday 24 November 2023

"Fat pet snakes are tipping the scales – and clueless owners are to blame"

 Kitchen sink exotic breeding at work for money and selling to idiots

Britain has a growing problem with obese pet snakes as owners overfeed them, experts have warned.

Some snakes only eat one big meal a year in the wild but in captivity are mcuh less active and are often fed weekly by novice owners.

This can lead to significant weight gain, which can shorten a snake’s lifespan.

Exotic pets are surging in popularity in Britain but with few official resources for advice, owners are often left without reliable sources of information.

Experts have warned that a rising number of well-meaning but ill-informed snake owners are feeding their animals on a timetable more attuned to mammalian pets such as dogs and cats.

Mark O’Shea, a professor of herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton, said that snakes were “feast or famine animals” that may often long periods of time between meals.

Obesity is a problem in a lot of organisms. The owners may not recognise that they’re feeding their animal too much, it’s less obvious in snakes because people think a fat snake is a healthy snake,” he told the Telegraph.

That’s not necessarily true, of course. They feed when the opportunity presents itself and then there’s a very prolonged period of resting because they don’t need to feed again for a long time.

Big pythons generally have quite slow metabolisms, they don’t need as much food as a mammal.

It’s your amateur who’s really got no one to reach out to that may buy a snake from the pet shop, find out what it eats and set up the enclosure but they don’t know how much they should be feeding.”

People don’t understand their needs’

A survey this year by UK Pet Food suggested that there are approximately 700,000 pet snakes in Britain.

Snakes feed on live prey such as mice, rats and rabbits, and in the wild travel long distances and expend lots of energy before a meal, whereas in captivity they are often in a body-length glass cage where they can move very little.

How often a snake should be fed depends on the species, with some needing twice weekly feeds and others only needing larger but far more sporadic meals.

A large python, or one of the big boas like green anaconda, can get by on one very large meal and then not eat for a year without any ill effects,” said Prof O’Shea.

Dr Steven Allain, a council member of the British Herpetological Society (BHS), added that snake obesity can often be a problem for inexperienced owners.

Obesity is occurring in snakes as people do not always understand their needs and may wrongly assume that they need to be fed more frequently as required, more in line with other pets such as cats or dogs,” he said.

This combined with a lower energy expenditure (if housed in a small vivarium) contributes towards snakes becoming obese.”

Don’t buy on impulse’

Snakes can sometimes also continuously eat, he said, because they do not know when their next meal is coming so will gorge themselves.

Prof O’Shea advises owners to “not be an island” and to join a community and ask for help from others to find the best care for a pet snake.

Don’t just try and see if it works out. You should seek advice, and membership of a society, and go along to meetings,” he said.

Talking to people who’ve already solved the problem that you’ve got in front of you is the best way forward.

My advice is don’t buy snakes or any other animals on a whim and don’t buy on impulse in a pet store.

It has to be thought out. You have to make a conscious decision. If you’ve got an animal in your care, it is in your care and you’re responsible for its well-being.”

Dr Allain advises that domestic keepers should find information on how to look after their snakes from reputable sources such as an exotic reptile vet, the Federation of British Herpetologists, International Herpetological Society or the BHS.

Thursday 9 November 2023

The End Results of "Kitchen Sink" Exotic Breeding

  Results of all of the exotic "kitchen sink" breeding going on. We almost had it under control in the 1990s but..WTF is wrong with this ******* country and how it treats animals?

Face Book is one of the sources that people can find to purchase most types of exotics 'legally' by contacting breeders by "secure mobile app" -why so secretive if this is all legal?

An exotic pet monkey living in Wales had to be put down after animal rescuers found it suffering from a bone disease following months of mistreatment by her owners.

Precious, an 18-month-old marmoset, was seen “screaming and rolling around in a chaotic and unpredictable manner” when RSPCA officers searched the home of owners Jonathan Phillips, 54, and Laura Pittman, 52, a court heard.

The RSPCA said Precious was given no vitamin supplements or UV light, which maintain bone health, and fed a variety of ordinary household food including yoghurt and dried fruit.

The breed is meant to be fed “marmoset chow”, a commercially prepared diet, along with fresh fruit, vegetables and live insects, Merthyr Tydfil magistrates’ court was told.

A vet report said Precious was “dragging herself” and was “unable to climb or leap” and must have been lame for several weeks.

It was kept alone in their house in Ferndale, Rhondda, despite the species “having complex social needs”.

Phillips and Pittman admitted two Animal Welfare Act offences. They were each fined £350 and ordered to pay a £140 victim surcharge.

Phillips was also ordered to pay £966.71 costs and Pittman £965.21, while the couple were also banned from owning animals for 10 years.

‘Wrong diet’

Speaking after sentencing, Gemma Cooper, an RSPCA inspector, said: “This is a really sad story of a people buying an exotic animal on a whim and not knowing how to meet their needs.

“In their interview the defendants admitted they had not carried out any research before buying her and had been feeding her the wrong diet.”

‘Heartbreaking case’

Dr Ros Clubb, the RSPCA’s head of wildlife, added: “This is a heartbreaking case and Precious will undoubtedly have suffered horribly.

“Sadly we fear there are many more marmosets like Precious suffering behind closed doors because people do not know how to look after these animals properly and, as well as causing suffering to the animals, the owners risk falling foul of the law.

“That is why we, and other charities, are so concerned about the situation and wish to see the keeping and trade of primates as pets come to an end.

“Because of the specific needs of these animals their level of suffering can be extreme.

“As well as dietary and environmental needs, primates are highly social animals and they have extremely complex behavioural and social needs – but sadly in many cases they are being kept alone.

“They are wild animals that do not belong in people’s homes.”

Wednesday 8 November 2023

To Answer Some Questions on DNA Tests


It has been claimed by documentary makers that a DNA lab tested a hair and it was 99.9% positive for leopard. The question: why was there not 100% positive test results?

When it comes to labs that carry out DNA testing none declare that they do not want to be named. Firstly, publicity over testing can bring in business but none seem to want to hide who they are as that gives an indication that they are not confident in their testing. If the lab was paid to carry out a test on a hair sample then not naming the lab means that you have zero evidence. That is a fact as I can claim that I have 5 hair samples that tested positive at a DNA lab for snow leopard. I cannot name the lab. That means my claim is as valid as 99.9% positive for a leopard.  

To make a scientific claim your evidence has to be available for peer review by another lab so any claims are null and void.

The other thing is that a lab provides you with data such as can be seen below. This is basic data to back up any claim.

Look at what it says with 7 in that list.

So we really need to see the DNA report for clarification of the test results since in the 1990s when I was working with UK police forces one search of a big cat sighting locale (inside a caravan/trailer) found one black hair and the lab checked and DNA was 100% panthera pardus -leopard. Other hair samples were also positively identified by DNA labs. 

Below is something else that a DNA test lab will send. Again, this is something experts can check and then ask the lab for clarification on. 

These are two basic pieces of evidence that could back up a claim even though such a test result would be nothing new. WHY has the documentary maker not released these items?  You do not even have to include the lab name (although never revealing that damages any claim).

Rather like the known hoax photo that was claimed as evidence the DNA claims mean nothing.; We know these cats are out there and there is more than enough evidence from just the 1990s and early 2000s so a positive DNA claim is nothing sensational. 

We've had them before. We have the photographic evidence of a puma attack on a horse as well as livestock (sheep) kills, scratch posts, scat and even bones of prey analysed by experts and shown to have teeth markings from a large predatory cat.

Thursday 2 November 2023

NOT Another Giant Rat Scare Story: Shock as 'giant' rodent washes up on beach

A beachgoer was shocked to spot a "giant" rodent washed up on the beach by strong winds during Storm CiarĂ¡n. Warning: Graphic images.

The creature was found dead on Hove beach near Rockwater after heavy rain and strong winds this morning.

It is about three foot long and reminiscent of a large rat, but with large yellow teeth like a beaver.

The beachgoer, from Brighton, who did not wish to be named, said he spotted the giant creature washed up at 1pm.

The Argus: The creature has large teeth like a beaver

The creature has large teeth like a beaver (Image: Submitted)

"I thought it was a beaver at first but it is more likely coypu, which is an invasive species which can be found in Jersey," they said.

"I think it is about three foot long, including its tail."

The giant rat-like creature coypu, an invasive species, was eradicated from the UK in the 1980s due to the damage the species caused to land and crops.

The Argus: The creature next to a size 11 welly measuring around 30cm

The creature next to a size 11 welly measuring around 30cm (Image: Submitted)

The creature was first spotted in Jersey last October and, at the time, residents were advised not to approach it.

It was allegedly been spotted again earlier this year, with a sighting was reported to the government's natural environment team in April.

Professor Fiona Matthews, from the University of Sussex's school of life sciences, confirmed that the creature looks like a coypu, based on its tail and teeth.

Brighton and Hove City Council has been approached for comment regarding its disposal.

Did Royal Marines Shoot The Beast Of Exmoor?

caption: Rumours of "the Beast of Exmoor", a big cat said to stalk the fields of Exmoor in Devon and Somerset, date back to the 1970s. In 1983, the government took the unusual step of sending Royal Marine snipers into the area, after a spate of sightings and livestock killings. Picture: Keith Waldegrave / Associated Newspapers /Rex Features CREDIT: Keith Waldegrave / Associated Newspapers /Rex Features

Here is the problem I have with this account.

The Marines were not issued with live rounds due to the fact that if they missed a shot the power of the weapon would send a shell flying and there was the risk of hitting a farm house or one of the farmers out at night.I was told this by two Marines who were involved and Officer in Charge and the Ministry of Defence also confirmed that live rounds were not issued for use on Home territory. This actually enraged one farmer -Rosemary Rhodes- who asked me "What bloody good are they if they cannot shoot the thing?"
I spoke to two of the Marines involved in the Beast of Exmoor 'search' in the 1990s (neither knew I had been in contact with the other) and both had sightings of a large black cat AFTER leaving the service (those accounts are both recorded) but no one in their group, they told me, had sighted a big cat up close.

The account states that a police sergeant arranged for the Royal Marines to pop up to Exmoor. Where to start? Firstly; a police sergeant has absolutely no authority to call in any military unit let alone an elite one such as the Royal Marine Commandoes. Members of Parliament with farming constituents faced pressure and they asked governments ministers and added to the press and media circus at the time. It was becoming embarrassing. It was then decided politically to send in a detachment of the RMCs as a "placation" exercise; the let farmers realise that their complaints 'were' being taken seriously and to stop armed groups out at night that (according to rumour) had created problems.

The RMC were there on nightly patrol and everyone was safe -that was what the press and media were to report. Here is the thing: "He let rip with his rifle and the whole valley seemed to light up'" -no live ammo and according to the Marines I spoke to they never even caught a glimpse of a large cat. Add to that this fact; not one of the farmers in the area where the RMC were positioned and to whom I spoke at the time ever reported any gunfire. In fact the consensus was that the Marines spent the nights napping. I think that in that area gunfire that lit up the whole valley would have been noticed by someone.

Where does that leave this account? You can decide but as it comes from a documentary already infamous for inaccuracies I am just presenting the facts I know as I was given them by people involved.

Dr Todd Disotell is a noted researcher but not on large cats and especially not on such cats in the UK which many Americans (even educated ones) seem to think is a tiny piece of land with only a few trees. Disotell is incorrect in assumptions he makes.

Tense moment Royal Marine marksman tries to hunt down Beast of Exmoor: Dramatic face-off with big cat is reenacted in documentary exploring UK's fascination with large animal sightings - with some reports as far back as Henry VIII's reign

    A new documentary has been released on Amazon Prime exploring the history of big cat sightings in the UK, including the notorious Beast of Exmoor.

    Panthera Britannia: De-classified, produced by Dragonfly Films, follows the public's enduring fascination at the thought of big cats prowling Britain's woodland.

    Beyond the myths of Celtic Britain, reported sightings of big cats stretch as far back as King Henry VIII's reign.

    More recent alleged encounters including a photo of a large muscular black cat lying in long grass in Smallthorne, Staffordshire, and the 'wildcat of Woodchester' near Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 2009.

    But perhaps the most notorious 'big cat' of all is the Beast of Exmoor, a predator said to have wreaked havoc in the southwest of England.

    Things came to a head during the spring of 1983, when dozens of sheep were savaged in Devon and Somerset.

    Speaking in the documentary, Eric Lay, of Drewestone Farm, Devon, close to Exmoor National Park, revealed he lost more than 50 sheep during the killings.

    He said: 'It was in early March 1983, when I started having lambs go missing. That progressed on to big lambs, full-grown ewes and then there were local people who were seeing a big black cat.

    'You would just get the spine of the animal left and their ribs would be cleaned out, like they'd been cleaned out with a butcher's knife.'

    By the following month, a local police sergeant had arranged for a group of marines to travel up from their base in Plymouth to kill the animal

    mong those deployed was John Holden, a young marine in his early 20s, whose unit was tasked with ridding locals of the Beast of Exmoor.

    Mr Holden said: 'By the time we got there, over 100 full-grown ewes had been killed and slaughtered.

    'Something that powerful had to be bigger than the average sheepdog. You had to really appreciate that for something like that to happen, whatever it was, it was quite a formidable beast.'

    Mr Holden said the group set up an observation post overlooking a lonely valley, criss-crossed by a disused railway and a river.

    A rifle instructor then caught sight of a big black cat in crouch position apparently stalking a rabbit.

    Mr Holden said: 'All I could hear [the instructor] sayin was, "I can see something". He let rip with his rifle and the whole valley seemed to light up.'

    The troupe felt sure they had caught the animal, although no body was ever found. For a few years afterwards, the farmers of Devon enjoyed a period of relative peace. 

    Mr Lay said: 'From that moment on, I never had anymore problems.'

    Large cats were last known to roam the UK during the Late Pleistocene era, between 129,000 and 11,700 years ago

    Small numbers of big cats were thought to have been brought over by the Romans, who kept them in menageries, an earlier form of a zoo.

    Menageries appeared again in royal courts during the medieval period, while King Henry VII stocked a large and exotic menagerie inside the walls of the Tower of London.

    Researchers remain divided over the likelihood of big cats living in the wild in the UK and if so, whether these are animals which have escaped from captivity, or descendants of the big cats of the Pleistocene era. 

    Dr Todd Disotell, biological anthropologist at the University of Massachusetts, says: 'Some people have suggested that the sightings of large felids in the united Kingdom are the result of the remnants of ancient population from the later Pleistocine.

    'I think it's extremely unlikely that animals could survive that long. They would have to have a significantly large population to maintain enough genetic diversity so I don't think it's possible to have something last that long in a country as dense as Britain.'

    But even if the felines are descended from more recent arrivals, some experts think the numerous sightings are more than just tall stories. 

    However, animal behaviour expert Dr Isla Fishburn, who tracked evidence of wild cats in the UK, says she believes there 'compelling' evidence to suggest big cats have found a place in Britain.

    'When it comes to looking at the prey of what these big cats may eat, we've got a vast collection of species that are possible - mice, rabbits, hares, smaller mammals and also an incredible deer population.'

    Sunday 22 October 2023

    Common Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)


    Common Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

    Photo Credit: mithunhphotography. Location: Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka. Country: India

    If You Believe You Have Evidence of "Big Cats" In The UK or Wolverines GET IN TOUCH

      Over a period of four months, starting in May, I asked British 'big cat' groups what they had that they considered to be the best ...