IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Meet the Islington man living with two pet meerkats

Owner tells how public ask if they can have their picture taken with his meerkats

20 April, 2018 — By Beatrice Guzzardi

Daryl Hudson with meerkats Toffee and Fudge

HIS flat is filled with paintings, books and statues, all with one theme: meerkats.

But Daryl Hudson has not stopped at a collection of souvenirs, he’s brought two of the furry animals – called Toffee and Fudge – to live with him in his Liverpool Road flat.

The 27-year-old allowed the Tribune to visit his unusual pets after one of them was spotted perching on a windowsill by a passer-by.

Mr Hudson said: “I remember as a child having to be pulled away from the meerkats enclosure by my parents to go and see other animals. I have always been fascinated by their lifestyle and complex social structure where everyone in the group has a role to play, such as babysitting and teaching their young how to hunt. I sometimes think that they are better organised than us humans.”

Toffee and Fudge, both aged three, came to live with him in 2015. Interest in the animals was peaking at that time due to the Meerkat Manor documentary and a well-known advertising campaign for an insurance company.

“Every day starts with me being woken up by the sound of meerkats rattling the door of their enclosure and making vocal noises showing that they are hungry,” said Mr Hudson.

Some of Mr Hudson’s meerkat souvenirs at his Liverpool Road home

“Both have distinct characters – Toffee is more laid back, whereas Fudge is fearless, especially when meeting new people.”

He added: “They both take frequent naps during the day, taking it in turns whilst one keeps lookout at the window and the other one sleeps on my laptop.”

It is legal to keep meerkats in the United Kingdom, although the RSPCA advise that, because of their complex needs, they are not generally recommended to be kept as pets. They are normally found in African deserts.

Mr Hudson, however, said he has expertise on their welfare after completing courses and volunteering at London Zoo.

He said they do require specialist care, adding: “From my experience working with animal encounter teams, I developed contacts with reputable animal dealers and obtained them. “However, I cannot stress enough that is not something to just go out and do without the proper knowledge, experience and commit­ment to look after them.”

Islington Council said Mr Hudson has demonstrated considerable specialist knowledge with exotic animals. The RSPCA and police had visited him and found no concerns.

“After the initial surprise, my family and friends are mostly pleased with me having meerkats and like to visit often,” he said.

“People passing by the flat are usually surprised to see the meerkats and most smile and wave at them.

“Sometimes, when I’m walking them outside in the grass, people stop by asking questions and if they can take photographs and stroke them.”

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