Reptile rescuer offers unusual pets to East Sussex schools

Deano Macmillan with his African land snails
Deano Macmillan with his African land snails

A reptile rescuer from Ditchling is making local schools an offer they can’t refuse.

Now that up-to-date educationalists say the natural world should be brought into the classroom, Deano Macmillan wants to donate an African Land Snail – free of charge – to any school that would like one.

Deano says the snails are easy to care for

Deano says the snails are easy to care for

Deano, 26 from Macs Farm, Ditchling runs the popular Deano’s Snake shack. He holds regular reptile ‘getting to know you’ sessions where youngsters meet and greet a bewildering array of unusual creatures. These include the giant snails, tarantulas, bull pythons, geckos, bearded dragons, scorpions, stick insects and even two Cayman crocodiles!

Deano also rescues invertebrates and molluscs which have fallen on hard times.

He said: “People buy them because they are fashionable but they don’t know how to look after them. We are always being asked if we can re-home snakes and when they come to us they are often hungry and dehydrated. This makes them excitable and sometimes angry. Owners are just unaware about how they should be cared for.”

He explained how there was a turtle craze in the 1980s when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were on TV. People bought baby turtles for their children without realising how much they would grow.

“If you look into the pond on Ditchling Common you can still see the occasional turtle where someone plonked them in. They can live quite happily in our climate. People obtain these creatures and then they are embarrassed to find out they can’t care for them properly, so they just dump them.”

While lots of us like cats and dogs, Deano has been fascinated by these creatures all his life.

“I am so lucky – my hobby is now my life. I want to get the word out help educate children about animals.

“When I was young our school had hamsters but no-one knew how to look after them and they used to die, then get replaced. Sometimes they would bite!

"I want to make sure creatures I look after have a better life than that.”

If they have been neglected he helps nurse them back to health and then seeks to re-home when and where possible. He also loves telling children all about these insects and reptiles that often scare their parents.

If any school would like its own Giant Snail, they should contact Deano. He says they are easy to care for, only require something like a plastic fish tank with a layer at the bottom they can burrow into and a shallow tray of water. Contact him on: 07802 724914.