SIOUXSIE: For some strange reason the neighbours don’t pop around for cuppas, do they? COMM: Siouxsie and Simon are obsessed with snakes, lizards and spiders. They run and
live in a sanctuary in Dunstable, Bedfordshire that houses hundreds of species that would
make most people’s skin crawl. SIMON: I think we are around 80 plus minus snakes. So, it’s quite a lot. We have several venomous snakes here at the moment, including Western Diamondback rattlesnakes, we’ve got three
of those. We’ve got two reticulated pythons in here – one’s about 12-14 feet and the
other one’s probably about 10 feet in length. So they are both quite big. If it manages
to get round you and starts constricting you, the chances of you getting it off yourself
are quite slim. COMM: Among their daily chores is the daunting process of cleaning out the many reptile tanks. SIMON: All right. Watch out. I don’t want to grab the head of it if I don’t have to.
Okay, now I do, okay here we go. All right. You got it? SIMON: There we go. That’s what can happen. Missed me. Ready? In you go. Defence mechanism,
if she feels threatened ‘cause we have to grab her, if we don’t grab her head, she
can turn around, bite you in the face, then you’re in real trouble. Because of that
she just emptied a whole bodily system all over the place. SIMON: One of the chores I’ve got to do now is actually giving injection to a Nile
Monitor. He is quite a powerful animal. It takes two of us to deal with it. He can whip
you his tail, he can bite you. I basically found out he had a bit of an infection somewhere
inside him, so every day we have to come in here and give this thing an injection, which sounds easier than it is, they’re quite a handful. SIMON: He’s off! Yeah. Watch out, right? Got it? Don’t let it bite you. Okay, got him? Wait
a sec. Okay, hold on, goes in very slow, very thick stuff this. Three quarters down. Okay,
done. No, no, no, that way! That way! SIOUXSIE: Biting, biting, biting, look at that! Done. SIMON: If you get bitten by a venomous snake, your life is in danger. Most of the time people
don’t die from venomous snakes’ bites, but you could end up in really big trouble,
like say you might lose a hand, a finger, an arm. They can be quite dangerous. You have
aggressive 20 foot snake, it’s no handling on your own, not safely anyway. COMM: Feeding that many reptiles is a big job. Defrosting the frozen rats is the first step. SIOUXSIE: So we’re gonna feed our resident rattlesnake here. Obviously you’ve gotta
be very careful. They do have venom, so you do not want to get venom in you. It’s a
hospital job. SIOUXSIE: So she has a bit of venom into it. She doesn’t need to constrict it. She’s
still feeling a bit cross with us, so I think she’s concentrating on us, not food item
right now. COMM: Though a rare occurrence, snake bites are a painful reminder of the pitfalls of
looking after venomous reptiles. SIMON: I’ve been bitten before. I was bitten by a copperhead, actually twice. My arm swelled
up to the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. It started to get black. The pain is like
putting your hand or arm into boiling water or fire. COMM: Safety is a top priority for the pair. SIMON: We’ve got protective gloves which can withstand a snake bite. Every door is
double locked and the cage is obviously locked as well. We do have neighbours here. There
are six houses or so on the left side of the building and on the other side is a golf course.
They know there’s snakes here. COMM: But the couple has a serious message for visitors to the sanctuary. Especially
inexperienced would-be owners of exotic animals. SIMON: We try to educate people about the snakes and why the snakes are here. You know,
people see a nice cute little snake in a pet shop, something that might only be a few inches
long, and potentially can get 18+ feet. SIOUXSIE: Having visitors here at the Secret Sanctuary as well, we try to sort of change
people’s attitude, how they feel about snakes. People think they are horrible, slimy, disgusting.
So hopefully by coming here they see how amazing they are, how beautiful they are. COMM: And the couple’s animal ambitions don’t end with reptiles and spiders. SIOUXSIE: I think if we were, there were no limits, no licensing, no worries about space,
we’d end up having elephants and probably a giraffe’s head coming through the window.
SIMON: I’d love to get a gorilla. It’s not just snakes we are into, or reptiles rather,
it’s anything, you know. We’ll always have animals around us, that’s for sure.