British family shares home with 80 animals

Saturday, November 27, 2010

LONDON - A British family shares its home with an amazing collection of 80 exotic animals that include boa constrictors, pythons and tarantula spiders.

Alan Hewitt, 44, and his wife Heather, 40, have 20 snakes, 15 reptiles, 25 mammals and birds and invertebrates as their pets at their home in in Morley, near Leeds, The Sun reported Saturday.

The couple run a sanctuary - the Morley Exotic Animal Rescue - for rescued pets and now have a collection comprising 35 different species.

They include two monitor lizards, six bearded dragons, four boa constrictors, two pythons, two giant tortoises, a cane toad, four tarantula spiders, rodents, an African grey parrot, two meerkats, two racoons and a skunk.

The sanctuary costs 20,000 pounds a year to run and the expenses are met through fund-raising. The family has now applied for charitable status.

“Living with 80 animals is a tremendous experience. Many end up here due to neglect and people not knowing how to look after them… or they’ve outgrown the owner, who becomes frightened,” Alan said.

“We get animals from the police, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the public. We have to separate prey and predator. And I’m always on my guard. I’m forever being bitten by tarantulas and snakes or stung by scorpions,” he said.

Heather added: “I do get nervous when Edward’s around the scorpions.”

The couple have three children - Abigail, 17, Grace, 15, and Edward, 10.

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