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19th Jun 2023

Man sparks debate after taking 20 snakes to sunbathe in local park

Steve Hopkins

A slippery issue!

A man enjoying a sunny day in a local park with his pets has sparked a heated debate.

The pet owner is said to have taken 20 snakes to a local park in Paisley, Scotland, to soak up some rays.

The man was spotted sunbathing with his reptilian companions, sparking a debate on Facebook about correct park, petiquette, and what animals are and are not park-appropriate.

The Friends of Barshaw Park Facebook group posted that it had been contacted by several people “with concerns about someone bringing snakes into park”.

Park lovers were split on the slithering serpents and whether the man – said to be a regular – should be allowed to return with his scaly pals.

“Me personally, I wouldn’t have any of my animals anywhere near a public space, as why even present the risk in the first place?” one person wrote.

Another wanted the man banned, “no, no, no.”

While others were more sympathetic towards the snakes and their owner.

“I’ve seen this guy in the park over the last couple of years. He is a lovely person, very friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to answer any questions,” the person wrote.

“His snakes are calm and I have held them several times.”

One nearby resident, Margaret Winters, said everyone she spoke with was totally fine with the snakes enjoying the public space.

Although, she admitted the first time she encountered them, they gave her quite the fright.

“They ended up literally crawling over my feet. I got a bit of a fright, but they were really nice,” she explained.

“I’m not scared of snakes so it was quite nice to get the chance to hold a baby one.”

She added: “It was bizarre because you expect to see dogs running around the park but not snakes.

“The man who owned them said they were quite clever and friendly and they looked as if they were enjoying the sun. Most people were really interested.”

Jamie Kinlochan, a regular visitor to Barshaw, told BBC Scotland’s Drivetime programme that most people he had spoken to seemed happy to share their green spaces with snakes – so long as they were not venomous.

“People have, much to my surprise, been loving this,” he said.

“I had never thought about it before, but I guess when it come to things like dogs in the park we are kind of cool about that even though they can still present some form of danger if not well looked after or not treated properly. “I guess people’s arguments here are not any different and I probably agree with that.”

Since the issue came to light, the Barshaw Park Facebook has informed followers that Renfrewshire council has said that “no-one has permission to bring snakes into Barshaw Park”.

“The police request that if you see anyone in the park with snakes, please do not approach the person, but call the police on 101, and they will attend,” the post read.

A spokesman for Renfrewshire Council told the BBC: “Non-domestic pets such as snakes should not be brought into our parks and consent has not been provided for this to take place.”

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