London - It's a jungle out there: the number of sightings of non-indigenous, exotic animals in Britain has sky-rocketed in the last six years, according to a recent study. More than 10,000 sightings of everything from wallabies to dangerous spiders, crocodiles and even a penguin have been recorded since 2000, with the rise attributed to climate change, zoo thefts and animal escapes.

Chris Mullins, founder and co-ordinator of Beastwatch UK, which compiled the data, said: "It is clear the United Kingdom contains far more exotic wild animals than the British public could ever imagine."

The figures show that in the last six years 51 wallabies, 13 spiders including a tarantula and a Black Widow, 13 racoons, 10 crocodiles, seven wolves, three pandas, two scorpions and one penguin have been spotted. There were also reported sightings of 5,931 big cats, 332 wild boars and 3,389 sharks in British waters. Southwest England was a big cat hotspot, wild boar are most common in the southeast while Buckinghamshire - north of London - and neighbouring Oxfordshire have the most numbers of wallabies. Oban, on the west coast of Scotland is home to several monkeys, the study found.