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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
'Man-eating' python bought online
Reticulated python (generic)
Reticulated pythons can grow up to 30 feet
A father who bought a snake over the internet which turned out to be a man-eating python has called for a ban on the online sale of dangerous pets.

Barry Cowan, 23, from Bathgate, said he feared for the safety of his two-year-old daughter Michelle when he discovered he had a reticulated python.

The mechanic thought he had bought a royal python, which grows to 5ft.

It was only when he posted pictures on the internet that he was told he had the world's biggest python species.

It makes me really annoyed to think that all I did was give my name, address and 250 and I had a really dangerous animal a few days later in my home
Barry Cowan

Speaking to the BBC Scotland news website, Mr Cowan, said he was angry such a mistake could have happened.

He said: "When I was told by a man on an internet forum that I actually had a python which can eat a man I was really worried and feared for my daughter's safety as it was in a tank in the living room.

"It makes me really annoyed to think that all I did was give my name, address and 250 and I had a really dangerous animal a few days later in my home.

"I know nothing about snakes and had been told a royal python was a good starter snake.

"I think it should only be pet shops and animal centres which should be allowed to sell snakes, I've had a real fright with this and I won't be buying any more animals over the internet again."

Aggression concern

Ross Lambert, who runs Reptile Rescue UK, said reticulated pythons could easily eat a child and should not be pets.

He said: "When we went to see the snake at this guy's house, we realised that it was a reticulated python straight away.

"It was only a young one, so had only grown to about 6ft. But it would have grown very quickly and they can get as big as 30ft.

"We agreed to get the snake out of his house and are now looking after it at our rescue centre."

"It can be aggressive and would certainly have a try at eating the family dog."

Ross claimed internet pet sales were to blame for a boom in sales of deadly snakes such as the reticulated python.

He said: "The problem with buying these things online is that you just pay your money, tick a box and the thing is delivered.

"There's no attempt to advise people on what they are actually buying. And there's no way the seller can check out the buyer to make sure they have the right facilities for looking after a big snake."

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