An animal lover has caused a stink in his hometown during lockdown while going for a walk – with his pet SKUNK.
Liam Tanner, 23, has taken Niffler out for a walk every other day since the start of lockdown to keep him active and raise awareness of his exotic animal rescue centre.
The black-and-white furry friend has become a local celebrity in his hometown of Silloth, Cumbria, after attracting admirers during his exercise.
Liam, a furloughed holiday park entertainment manager, said people stop and ask for selfies with Niffler when they see him out and about on his lead.
He said: “I have had quite a lot of shocked reactions – a lot of people have asked if he’s real or if he’s a toy.
“He has turned a lot of heads, but people have been very positive, we haven’t had any negativity of anyone.
“People ask ‘does he not smell?’ but the reality is that he doesn’t.
“Skunks only spray anal fluid when they feel threatened or scared and he has only sprayed once in the year we have had him.”
Liam and girlfriend Sophie Hillary, 24, took Niffler into the exotic animal shelter they run from their home in June last year when he was just six weeks old and have hand-reared him ever since.
Liam added: “We have had him since he was little and we have two puppies so he has grown up around them.
“He’s friendly with our dogs and he’s friendly with other dogs, but he isn’t so friendly with cats or other animals his size.
“That’s just because he is a wild animal and in the wild, animals of a similar size would be seen as a threat.
“He does need a lot of exercise and we walk him for an hour and half at a time.
“He has the entire top floor of our house to run around in and he goes for a walk every other day, weather-dependent.
“When were placed on furlough at the start of May, it coincided with Niffler turning one.
“We always planned to take him out walking when he turned one but lockdown gave us a lot more time to do that and we could focus a lot more on our animals.”
The pair met through their work at a holiday park and bonded over their love of animals.
Three years ago they began taking in exotic animals that needed to be re-homed and have now turned their house into a rescue centre, called Our Cozy Creatures.
As well as Niffler, they also share their home with a pole cat, three baby mice, a corn snake, a bearded dragon, a dwarf hamster, a tortoise, five cats, two turtles and two dogs.
Liam added: “We got a phone call from an animal rescue that we work with in Liverpool who said they have taken two skunks in and could we help them out and take one of them in.
“We said yes straight away.
“Any animal we take on, whether it be as a rescue resident or an animal that will be assessed for adoption, we treat as our own pet while with us.
“We give every animal the absolute best care, love and nourishment as we would our own pets.
“Some animals we take on will eventually be adopted into a forever home, but the ones we currently have are rescue residents and will be staying with us.”
Liam and Sophie decided to open their rescue centre up to the public last month to take in exotic animals that can no longer be cared for by their owners.
Trained magician Liam said: “We started taking in animals about three years ago, but we decided to open it up to the public about four weeks ago.
“There’s plenty of rescue centres for dogs, cats and pets like that, but there just isn’t that many for exotic animals.
“We will take any animal in that needs help, but we do specialise in exotic animals.
“Sadly the most common reason an animal comes to us is that people don’t understand the care requirements of exotic animals.
“I would say to anyone thinking of taking an exotic animal in to do their thorough research.
“Whenever we take an animal in, we research it for at least a week first – you need to know its care needs, its dietary requirements, how much exercise it needs.
“There is plenty of information available online, but if people are still unsure, they can always contact a rescue centre like ours. We’d be more than happy to help people.”
Visit www.gofundme.com/f/exotic-animal-rescue-service to support the couple’s rescue centre.