Alligators for sale in Rainham!

THERE have been persistent rumours of alligators inhabiting the murky depths of the New York sewer system, but it may come as a surprise to know there are real-life snappers lurking closer to home – in Rainham.

Owners of Cold Bloodied, in The Broadway, gave a special insight into managing one of the longest-running reptile stores in the UK and which this week have a pair of baby alligators for sale!

Showing off the store’s Dangerous and Wild Animals (DWA) license, shop assistant Paul Burnett explained that anybody selling and buying the sharp-toothed beasts needed to have such papers.

He added: “The license is so strict we have to follow it. We get checked all the time by the council, the RSPCA. We’re quite famous for housing big animals.”

Walking into the darkened store, the warm smell of reptiles is overpowering. Each wall is lined with glass cages of snakes, spiders and exotic lizards. In the centre of the room two tortoises bob in a tank.

But it’s in a separate room that I find what all the fuss is about.

Two baby alligators (around 1.5m long float half submerged in their tanks, their unblinking eyes staring straight at me.

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Paul reveals they cost a few thousand pound each and once they’re too big will be moved onto Cold Blooded’s sister store The Reptile Sanctuary in Upminster Road South.

There isn’t a huge market for selling crocs and over the past 15 years the store has only sold around seven, mainly to other pet stores.

Shop co-owner James Hillbrown later told the Recorder: “It’s very taboo around crocodillia. But the cold reality is you can keep one if the authorities deem it’s safe.

“If I sold one to a private person I’d want to see their license and keep a record of their address.”

He added: “When most people see them in the store they’re wowed by it. For me, it’s a lifelong fascination.”