A PET shop owner has retired after 37 years of selling cute creatures and creepy crawlies to customers.

Peter Ingham opened Petland in Market Street, Little Lever, in 1978 with wife Elaine but has decided it is time to close the business.

The 68-year-old, who is terminating the lease on the business, said: "We started from scratch. We'd lived in the village since we got married in 1968.

"My wife looked around and asked herself: What are we missing? A pet shop. We thought: Right, we're going for that. We sold an old Vauxhall Viva to fund the stock. The wholesaler who gave me what I needed to start off with said: Buy one of everything and when you sell it, buy two, and when you've sold two, buy three. I followed that advice ever since."

Mr Ingham appeared in the Bolton News in the past when a mischievous cat knocked over bird cages, shaking the doors loose, and devoured two or three canaries.

He made the headlines again in 2012 on the death of Dixie the talking parrot that had become somewhat of a local celebrity.

He said: "I've enjoyed it 100 per cent. I can't deny it. Basically, I'm now serving adults who used to come in as children and they're bringing in their own children. Children aren't as interested in pets as they used to be but my best seller is still rabbits."

Mr Ingham used to work in insurance and owned The Village Store in Middleton with his brother before opening Pet Land in a former wool and ladieswear shop.

His sons Paul, 41, and Steven, 39, helped out as did Little Lever and Darcy Lever ward councillor Sean Hornby.

Mr Ingham has been given congratulatory bottles of wine and champagne by wellwishers and was even given a goodbye Lottery ticket in a card which turned out to be a winner to the tune of £9.30.

The Boscow Road, Little Lever, grandfather said: "The village was buzzing at the time we started, there were independent shops throughout the precinct and the passing trade was there. In the last five years Little Lever has lost its sparkle.

"On my left hand side I have two empty shops that have been vacant for four or five years and one on my right for a similar period.

"I haven't had a holiday in 15 years as I couldn't find anyone to run the shop while I was away.

"I'm 69 this year and I can't go on forever. That prompted the decision to retire three months ago.

"I have mixed feelings about it as I've had so much interest from customers and on Facebook."

Mr Hornby said Mr Ingham gave him his first job out of school in 1981 and he has fond memories of working there.

He said: "It's a well-deserved retirement. Peter will be sadly missed because he's one of the nicest guys you'll meet. I wish him and his family well."