You'll need a licence if you want to keep an animal considered to be wild, dangerous or exotic.

This is to make sure that people who keep dangerous wild animals don't cause any risks to the public and safeguard the welfare of the animals.

There are many types of animals referred to as a dangerous wild animal, for example:

  • crocodiles
  • wild cats
  • wolves
  • ostriches
  • many poisonous snakes
  • certain pigs such as wild boar

Hybrid or cross-bred animals may need a licence, depending on how far removed the animal is from its wild ancestor.

If you are unsure if your animal is classed as a dangerous wild animal then please contact us to see the full list of animals you need a licence for

Zoos, pet shops and circuses need a different form of licence.

We have the power to seize any dangerous wild animal being kept on unlicensed premises.


You won't be given a licence if you’ve committed any animal health or welfare offences, or if you’ve been banned from:

  • running a riding establishment
  • running a pet shop
  • keeping animals, including in a boarding kennel or cattery

How to apply

If you want to keep an animal classed as dangerous or wild then you will need to apply for a dangerous wild animal licence.


Before you get a licence your premises will be inspected by a vet and you'll need to pay their fee. They will look at where the animal is going to be kept and make sure that the conditions, cages and food, are suitable. 

Before we can give you a licence you have to show us that you:

  • are suitably qualified to keep the type and number of animals that you want to keep
  • will provide the animals with adequate food, drink and bedding
  • will check them at suitable intervals
  • will take all reasonable precautions to prevent infectious disease amongst the animals
  • will do what is reasonably practicable to safeguard the animals in an emergency

We can refuse to give you a licence if we think that conditions are not suitable for keeping animals.

We may ask for special conditions if we think your premises need them for the safety of the animals or the protection of the public.

Renewing your licence

A dangerous wild animal licence is valid for two years.  You will need to apply to renew your dangerous wild animal licence if you want to keep running the business.


Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976


If you have an issue with a licensed premises for animals there are different people you can contact depending on the problem.  

Public register

If you would like to view our public register for dangerous wild animal licences please contact us.

Trade associations

Pet Industry Federation (PIF)