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Man who kept lizards in fish tank with rotting food banned from owning animals

A man has been banned from owning animals for five years after being convicted of woefully neglecting his collection of reptiles. Colin Birch allowed one iguana to roam freely around his home and two others plus a lizard were crammed into a small fish tank with only rotting food.

RSPCA officers retuned to his home for a second time and found five iguanas left to fend for themselves with one in a fish tank with no access to water.

Birch, 68, of Auden Close, Manchester was sentenced in his absence at Manchester magistrates court. He was also given a nine months community order and 15 rehabilitation activity requirement (RAR) days, and ordered to pay a fine of £100 and a victim surcharge of £95.

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Birch was found guilty of two offences. The first - which took place in February 2022 - involved the neglect of three iguanas and a spiny-tailed lizard; while the other involved the neglect of five further iguanas in June 2022.

The court heard that the RSPCA first visited Birch’s flat in February 2022 after concerns were raised about the welfare of ‘lizards’ in the property. The RSPCA officer - accompanied by police - entered the property and found three iguanas and a lizard being kept in very worrying conditions.

One of the iguanas was roaming free around the dangerously cluttered and overheated flat and another two iguanas plus a spiny-tailed lizard were crammed into a very small fish tank with only rotten or dried up food. There was no source of UV (crucial to the health of iguanas), no temperature controls and no thermometer.

Given these conditions, the police seized all four reptiles and after being checked by a vet, the RSPCA organised for