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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Customers flocking to discover exotic pets in Barrow

FROM rascally raccoons to scurrying scorpions and lounging lizards – a new store is challenging conventional ideas about what makes a perfect pet.

Vicky Frederick has been inundated with curious customers since she opened the doors of her exotic pet store, Pixie Pets, in Rawlinson Street, Barrow, last month.

The 22-year-old is offering local people an alternative to the usual domesticated pets, although they come at a price – a racoon racks up the bill at around £650.

She says the bond between an owner and their skunk, hedgehog or spider can be every bit as powerful as that between an owner and their dog, cat or rabbit.

“I want people to realise that there’s an option out there for people who fancy something a bit different,” she said.

“I actually ran an exotic pet store with my ex-partner for a lot of years and when I moved back here I decided to open up to show people there are lots of different animals you can keep.”

But the sale of exotic pets has proved controversial, with groups such as the RSPCA campaigning to discourage the trade.

RSPCA exotics and trade officer Sophie Adwick said: “Some people may choose exotics as pets because they are unusual or quirky, then get a shock when they realise how long they might live, how big they might grow or how difficult they can be to look after. Animals can suffer or even die because their owners lose interest, or are unable to give them the specialist care they need.”

But Ms Frederick, who is the owner of two skunks, Pixie and Zack, and a raccoon, Roo, said: “I completely agree with some of their standpoints in that I think some animals shouldn’t be sold to just anyone and you have to be careful, but my skunk Pixie is more domesticated than any of my dogs and cats. It is trained, litter trained, and wants to be around people all the time. I don’t care what anyone says, she is not a wild animal.”

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