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Snakes alive! Ernest’s a 14ft family favourite


Most families are content with a dog or a cat as a pet.

But one Newark family shares their home with 13 animals, including analbino Burmese python called Ernest.

The python is eight years old, 14ft long and weighs between three and four stone.

He lives with his owner, Mrs Denise Cawthorne (42) and her children Maya (12) and Dominic (10) on Bowbridge Road, Newark.

Mrs Cawthorne, a retired midwife who used to own an aquatics shop in Newark, has had Ernest since he was 18 months old.

A previous owner mistreated him and Mrs Cawthorne nursed him back to heath by injecting the chicks he fed on with vitamins.

Albino Burmese pythons are one of six largest snakes in the world, and can grow up to 23ft and weigh up to 14 stone. Ernest is kept in a tank and fed on frozen mice and rabbits.

Mrs Cawthorne started collecting exotic animals six years ago when she bought a parrot in Skegness. More animals followed and, as well as the python, she also has three parrots, an iguana, a water monitor, a bearded dragon, a corn snake a newt, two rats and two American bulldogs.

Mrs Cawthorne said she had a soft spot for Ernest because he was so different and has entered him into the Advertiser’s Pet of the Year competition under the category of best small pet — despite his size.

She said people’s preconceptions about snakes were inaccurate.

“People expect them to be wet and slimy but that’s not the case,” she said.

“If you show them attention they will respond. The key is to not be afraid because they are not how you imagine. They’re quite affectionate really.”

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