Meet endangered tortoise Eden and Monty the python, residents of Grantham College

Small Animals centre at Grantham College. Georgina Turner and Shelby Bointon with "Monty" 315D
Small Animals centre at Grantham College. Georgina Turner and Shelby Bointon with "Monty" 315D
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Rodents, reptiles, insects and an endangered tortoise called Eden join tutors at Grantham College in teaching students a thing or two.

The creatures are used to train students on the animal care course how to care for them, putting them on the path to careers such as veterinarian care, zookeeping and pet grooming.

Small Animals centre at Grantham College. Christine Howe with "Eden" 315D

Small Animals centre at Grantham College. Christine Howe with "Eden" 315D

The collection has built up considerably since the centre first opened, with the latest additions being reptiles. It was necessary for the college to bring in snakes and lizards to allow a Level 3 education in the subject.

Christine Howe is an animal techinician. She said: “When I first started here all we had was rabbits. Over the last couple of years it’s really grown, particularly the reptile and exotics side of it.”

Neighbouring Monty the python, corn snakes, bearded dragons and a firebelly toad is Eden, the rarest of animals housed at the college. Eden is an endangered Hermann’s tortoise and he is coming up to three years old.

There are many mouths to feed all in all - after a quick calculation, Christine estimates that 147 animals that call the college home, and that is not including snails, cockroaches, stick insects, fish and other smaller critters.

Some of the more unusual creatures are tiny African pygmy mice, a lionhead rabbit with a grumpy disposition, an African millipede, Egyptian spiny mice and an adorable African pygmy hedgehog called Spike.

It is not only full-time college students who will benefit from the growing range of reptiles and exotics at the college - an upcoming course in reptile husbandry is open to members of the public.

It will run for two hours on a Thursday evening, for five weeks.

Christine said: “This is something more for the community. We want to get people in from outside the college to do the course, understanding breeds, etc.

“In the last 10 years, the reptile pet industry has quadrupled in size, especially because people who have allergies can have a reptile, so it’s more popular.”

To find out more, call the college on 01476 400200.