A PYTHON and a lizard died after being abandoned in a freezing Huddersfield house.
The case was highlighted today as animal charity the RSPCA launched its Handle With Care Campaign.
The campaign aims to highlight the problems that arise when people do not have the knowledge, facilities or time to care for exotic pets.
The royal python and the spiny-tailed lizard had been left in an unheated Crosland Moor house, where the electricity had been cut off, after their owner moved.
They were cold and lethargic and, although taken to the herpetology unit at Huddersfield University, both died.
Chief RSPCA inspector Heidi Jenner said: "This sad case illustrates how essential it is that exotic pets are supplied with the correct care and environment - and a lifetime of commitment from their owners."
The animals' owner was banned from keeping all animals except dogs for 20 years and fined £250 with £100 costs.
The RSPCA collected more than 2,500 neglected, unwanted or abandoned exotic pets last year.
An RSPCA survey launched today showed that advice given to new owners from pet shops was often woefully inadequate and also wrong.
It also revealed that many vets did not have the knowledge or experience to treat exotic animals, with a third saying they referred cases to other vets.
An RSPCA spokesman said: "There are many people with a wealth of exotic pet care knowledge who set an excellent example - but there are many without.
"A worrying number of pet shops do not question the knowledge that prospective owners of exotic pets have. Information given by many pet shops is often poor and misleading."
The Government is drafting new animal welfare laws and the RSPCA wants them to include a duty of care.
Under this, all animal owners would have a legal responsibility to ensure that animals have enough food and water, appropriate shelter and environment and access to proper treatment.
OTHER cases of ill-treatment found by inspectors in the North include:
* A 12ft Burmese python crammed into a 4ft long glass case in York
* An iguana with a broken tail found in cold and inadequate conditions in Wyke, Bradford
* Reptiles, including alligators and crocodiles found in a mould-covered vivarium littered with dead flies and faeces
* Underfed pythons, birds and lizards found in a Liverpool pet shop
* Two iguanas abandoned in a caravan in Colne, Lancashire
* An underweight macaw found in a Manchester home. It was crammed in a cage so small it could not stretch its wings.