Family of eight live with 81 exotic animals including pythons, tarantulas, meerkats and skunks

Meet the Gavin family (Picture: Caters News Agency)

There’s never a dull moment for the eight members of the Gavin family who live with 81 exotic animals.

Dad Scott Gavin, 35, has built five outdoor enclosures for his animals while three Burmese pythons share a room with his son Robert, 12.

The dad-of-six insists it is ‘totally safe’ to allow the snakes – as big as 12 ft – to slither around the back yard while his children Chloe, 11, Ellie-Mai, eight, Emily, three and 21-month-old Megan play.

Scott’s love for animals has been passed on to his children – especially Robert who is autistic and finds comfort in his pet skunk, Rosie.

Their barn owl, meerkats, hedgehogs, Burmese pythons, giant cockroaches and many more are registered for therapy visits to elderly homes.

The youngest member Megan has Down’s syndrome and she loves the snakes too but doesn’t hang out with them much.

The family lives with 81 animals (Picture: Caters News Agency)

Scott said: ‘Megan loves the snakes but she is too heavy-handed.

‘If it is a sunny day, I allow the snakes to roam free in the garden and bask in the paddling pool whilst the children play but I would never leave them unattended as they could constrict any of them – at any time.

‘Emily isn’t fazed by house spiders as she has grown up with three tarantulas – she has held them ever since she was 18 months old.

‘I am very proud of how the children are with the animals but they don’t know any different.’

The family also has guinea pigs, rabbits, meerkats, ducks and a large number of reptiles including geckos, lizards, and snakes.

‘Robert and Rosie the skunk are inseparable which is really sweet – she calms him down when he is angry and cuddles him when they watch TV,’ added Scott.

‘We have 14 snakes in total which include pythons, corn snakes, a false water cobra, barons racer and western hognose – they are harmless.

Little Megan likes the snakes but dad Scott says she can be heavy-handed with them (Picture: Caters News Agency)

‘There is a potential threat with the pythons – they could decide to constrict you at any moment but I look after them well and I don’t think it would happen.

‘I have kept snakes for over 20 years so I know what not to do. The snakes are happy they are well fed with fresh water and in the correct temperatures.

‘I’d be lying if I said I have never been bitten by one when cleaning out the tanks but it is going to happen with these types of animals.

‘I previously had 26 stitches in my hand as one of the racoons were in season and bit my hand but that doesn’t make me love them any less.’

They’ve also got meerkats (Picture: Caters News Agency)

Scott lives in a five-bedroom house with his family and animals which cost £400 a month to care for.

When working with the animals and the general public, Scott says it can be very ‘rewarding’ as the animals become a good talking point for the elderly.

He said: ‘There’s many perks to the job such as seeing people’s face light up when they are a few feet away from a racoon or realise a skunk doesn’t actually smell.

‘But I will never forget the moment an autistic boy broke his five-year silence when communicating with me about one of the skunks – his mum was so happy!

‘It is also fascinating to see the elderly with the animals and hear stories from back in their day.’

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