FOR most ministers the pet of choice is a cat or dog, but Reverend Brian Harper is not most ministers.
A self-professed animal lover Brian is the proud owner of a Florida Cornsnake and has previously had pet rats.
While some may get a little squeamish at the thought of a serpent slithering around their living room, he has no such concerns.
“I know a lot of people would be very afraid of snakes, but they need not be.
“She’s not venomous and quite a few people around the area would have them. They’re not hard to get, you can get them in almost every pet shop.”
Reverend Harper told the Herald how a holiday abroad led to the purchase of ‘Bruce’ six years ago.
“I had gone into the pet shop in Portadown to buy a pet rat and it just so happened I saw someone had left a snake for rehoming.
“I think we had just come home from holiday in Canada and we had seen quite a few snakes in the wild so it just seemed very appropriate.
“He’s very easy to keep, he lives in a tank and is fed a mouse once every two weeks.
“She just sits around in the heat and sometimes I take her out and have her in my hands and crawling around me. She is quite content.”
While Brian has no qualms with Bruce in the house the same cannot be said about his two sons, who now live away from home.
“The two boys wouldn’t go near it, but my daughter would be very fond of it.
“It would though be more comfortable with me and would wrap itself around me.”
Bruce has become a bit of a local celebrity as of late, with visits to Ballinamallard Nursery and last week to Castlederg High School.
“If I’m asked to bring her somewhere I will, she was recently at the Castlederg High School open night and was very well received, the adults generally don’t like her, but the children love her.”
He believes there is nothing strange about having a pet snake and would recommend it to anyone.
“I think they’re very good for children, they’re quiet, easy to care for and very educational.
“There is certainly no need to be afraid of a pet snake. I used to keep pet rats and they were hard work, as you had to talk to them and they needed lots of socialisation.
“I would love to have them back though, but it was a big time commitment.”
With Bruce slithering about the house along with three dogs and two cats to care for it is safe to say the Harper household is anything, but dull.
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