Exotic, dangerous and wild animals

Last Updated: 7 May 2024

To keep any dangerous wild animals, you must apply for a licence.

Animals which need a licence are listed in The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) Order 1984.

The person making the application must be the person who owns and possesses or proposes to own and possess the animal.

You cannot get a licence if:

  • you are disqualified
  • convicted under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976

How to apply

To apply for a licence you need to fill in an exotic, dangerous or wild animal licence application form (DOC 57KB / 2 pages).

Return the application form and relevant documents to the licensing group, along with the correct fee:

Existing fees (2024/25):

  • new application fee: £263.00 (plus vets fees)
  • variation licence: £36.00, plus inspection & (risk assessment fee, if applicable at £48.00 per hour)
  • re-evaluation of rating: £136.00
  • variation of licence – new licensing activity/addition of home boarding host: £36.00 (for each additional licensing activity/additional host) plus inspection & risk assessment fee at £48.00 per hour

Existing holders of a dangerous wild animals licence will be sent the relevant application forms about a month before the renewal date.

Our duties

Before granting a licence the veterinary surgeon acting on our behalf must be satisfied that:

  • it is not contrary to the public interest to do so on the grounds of safety, nuisance or other grounds
  • the applicant is a suitable person to hold a licence to keep the animals listed on the application
  • the animal(s) will be kept in accommodation that prevents its escape and is suitable in respect of construction, size, temperature, drainage and cleanliness
  • that the animal(s) will be supplied with adequate and suitable food drink and bedding material and be visited at suitable intervals
  • appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the protection of the animal(s) in case of fire or other emergency
  • all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the spread of infectious diseases
  • the animal(s) accommodation is such that it can take adequate exercise
  • where the council issues a licence, that licence will be subject to such conditions as the council sees fit and in each case these conditions will specify that:
    a) only the person named on the licence shall be entitled to keep the animal
    b) the animal shall only be kept on the premises named on the licence
    c) the animal shall not be moved or may only be moved in accordance with conditions specified in the licence
    d) the licensee must hold a current insurance policy, approved by the council, which insures against liability for damage caused by the animal
    e) only the species and number of animals listed on the licence may be kept
    f) the licensee shall make a copy of the licence and its contents available to any other person listed on the licence as being able to look after the animal
  • the Council may at any time revoke or amend any licence condition apart from those covered by a) to f) above


If you disagree with our decision to refuse a licence or any conditions you can appeal to the Magistrates' Court. The court will make a decision on your appeal.

Offences and penalties

If you are found guilty of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence or failing to comply with a licence you could be fined up to £2,000.

We may seize the animal and retain it, have it destroyed or disposed of (to a zoo or elsewhere) without paying compensation. You may have to pay any costs.

If you are found guilty of obstructing or delaying an authorised licensing officer or authorised veterinary practitioner or surgeon you could be fined up to £2,000.