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Licence - Exotic, Dangerous or Wild Animals

The keeping of certain species of wild animals is controlled by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

This Act aims to ensure that where private individuals keep dangerous wild animals they do so in circumstances which create no risk to the public, and which safeguard the welfare of the animal.  Anyone who keeps or wishes to keep a dangerous wild animal requires a licence issued by the Council.

The animals for which a licence is required before they may be kept are listed in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) Order 2007 (external link)

Licences to keep exotic, dangerous or wild animals

Applications for a licence must be made to the Council and a licence may be issued providing the applicant is not disqualified or has been convicted under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

There is an application fee payable at the time an application is made.

The applicant will also be required to pay the cost of inspections carried out by the Council's authorised veterinary surgeon or veterinary practitioner.

Except in exceptional circumstances, the person making the application must be the person who owns and possesses, or proposes to own and possess, the animal to which the application applies.

Where a licence is granted, that licence and any subsequent licence will expire on 31 December of the year to which the licence relates and must be renewed before that date if the licence holder is to continue to keep the animal(s) named on the licence.

Council duties

Before granting a licence the licensing inspector 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
  • 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 8 a) to 8 f) above
  • Necessary approvals have been obtained for any structure which may require planning approval or building regulation consent.

There is an application fee which must be paid at the time an application is made. Details of fees are available here.

Your rights of appeal

Any person aggrieved by a refusal to be granted a licence or by any conditions to which the licence is subject, may appeal to the magistrates court and the courts may give such direction regarding the licence and its conditions as it thinks proper.

Offences and penalties

Anybody found guilty of keeping an animal covered by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 without a licence to do so or anybody found guilty of failing to comply with any licence condition shall be subject to a fine not exceeding £2,000.

Any person found guilty of obstructing or delaying an inspector or authorised veterinary practitioner or veterinary surgeon shall be subject to a fine not exceeding £2,000.

Where a person keeps an animal without a licence or where a person fails to comply with a licence condition, inspectors from the Council may seize the animal and may either retain it or have it destroyed or disposed of (to a zoo or elsewhere) without compensation to the owner.

Where the Council incurs any expense in seizing, retaining or disposing of an animal then the person who was the keeper of the animal shall be liable for those costs.

Apply online or download a form

It is not currently possible to make an online application via gov.uk for this licence.

Download an application form (PDF 55kb)

Refund policy

Please note that refunds of licence fees are not normally given. Only in exceptional circumstances, as deemed by the licensing manager, will a refund be considered. Any refunds given may be subject to an administration charge.

Failed application redress

Please contact environmental health on 01782 717717 in the first instance. Any applicant who is refused a licence can appeal to their local Magistrates' court.

Licence holder redress

Please contact the environmental health on 01782 717717 in the first instance. Any licence holder who wishes to appeal against a condition attached to their licence can appeal to their local magistrates' court.

Owner's responsibilities

A person is held to be the keeper of the animal if they have it in their possession. They remain the 'keeper' and therefore are responsible for the animal, even if it escapes or it is being transported. A licence holder has to contact the licensing authority for approval if animals are to be moved to another destination.

Permission must be sought if the animal is to be moved into another Council's area. The relevant local authorities are required to consult with each other before permission can be granted. Licences are reviewed and must be renewed annually.


The information that you provide will be used in accordance with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Follow this link for more information 

Further information

Copies of the dangerous wild animals Act 1976 and other legislation mentioned in this information sheet can be purchased from Her Majesty's Stationery Office. A copy of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 can be inspected at the Council offices where you may also obtain an application form and further help or advice.

Frequently asked questions

I can't see my animal on the list, is a licence required?

Licences are only required for those animals listed by the Act.


Last updated 1 October 2018

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