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News Clippings

Saturday 18 January 1997 (Daily Telegraph)

Pet of the week

THE king snake is a ferocious reptile that eats other snakes, even those its own size. Yet it also makes a very good pet.

Charlie, a king snake, belongs to Nigel Marven, a wildlife film-maker. Nigel and his wife, the television presenter Jenny Hull, have a large collection of reptiles which includes a python, a bull snake and a hog-nosed snake.

He bought Charlie partly because he needed some close-ups of him for A Rattlesnake's Tale, which will be broadcast on Febuary 6 in the Incredible Journeys series on BBC1. "King snakes can eat rattlesnakes because they are immune to their venom," says Marven, whose film shows a king snake doing just this.

At their Bristol home, Charlie is given a more prosaic diet of dead baby mice, which Jenny feeds him using a small pair of tongs. "I felt a sort of reluctance about picking them up at first," she says.

If you would like a king snake, you should choose only captive-bred creatures from a specialist reptile dealer rather than an ordinary pet shop (which may sell snakes in poor condition).

For a free king snake care sheet, send an sae to the British Herpetological Society, c/o Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, London NW1 4RY.

'Incredible Journeys' (BBC Books, 14.99), by Nigel Marven, accompanies the series.

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