Snake in the City couple, Simon Keys and Siouxsie Gillett.
Wimbledon-born Simon Keys and London-born Siouxsie Gillett both hail from the country with the oldest royal residence.
Although they were born and raised in cities apart, they were brought together by the love they share for animals, more especially snakes.
Keys who caught his first snake at the tender age of 10, in a wasteland near his home, described his first snake capture as the day he found his lifelong passion.
Keys who has been keeping snakes since he was 15-years-old, only became a professional snake catcher at the age of 30.
The snake enthusiast used to work in the marine trade, dealing with the importation and exportation of tropical fish.
“It was after 11 years of working at that company that I felt that I needed change. My partner at the time was a South African and wanted to move back home, so we moved to South Africa in 2005. I struggled to find work so, I started to catch snakes for a living, as not many people were keen to do this,” Keys said.
Gillett who is a qualified herpetologist has always been an animal lover. Before Snake City, she was already working with snakes and exotic animals for TV shows, commercials, films and productions such as Harry Potter.
“I also used to have a regular slot on a children’s TV show in England, UK, where every week I would have to bring on an animal to see if I could scare the presenter,” Gillett said.
Gillett who is all for defending the misunderstood was drawn to snakes as they have a bad reputation. “I kept them as pets from a young age. My aim is to change people’s attitude towards them,” Gillett expressed.
Although Gillett has been keeping and working with snakes for over 20 years, she only became a professional snake catcher when she started dated Simon and filming Snake City in 2015.
“No amount of training can prepare you for a wild, grumpy black mamba,” said.
When asked about how they feel after a successful catch, Gillett expressed the great feeling that follows.
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“Although some of the captures can take over five hours, it can be a relief when we finally get the snake. We also love the attitude of those we are serving. Their attitude towards snakes has shifted and since the show, people are starting to like snakes. After a snake capture, people want to see the snake, and if safe to do so, touch it,” Gillett said.
With the school holidays being in full swing and snake season running from September through to May, Keys and Gillett urged residents to minimise the rubbish in and around their property, as rubbish attracts rodents and thus snakes.
“When you see a snake do not try to deal with it by yourself, as approaching a nervous snake will result in a bite and ultimately death. Call a professional snake catcher and provide them with a description of the snake. If the snake is contained in a room, residents should ensure doors and windows are closed to contain the snake,” Keys and Gillett informed.
Keys advised aspiring professional snake catches to familiarise themselves with snakes by volunteering at a reptile park and studying books on types of snakes.
If you would like more information, contact Keys and Gillett on 060-633-6054. The duo can be seen in Snakes in the City on Nat Geo Wild.