Marcus Hobbs houses the snake in a vivarium in his property in Tewkesbury, Glos., and thinks it might be the largest EVER
A dad who bought an eight inch snake has seen it grow into the world's biggest ever Burmese python measuring over 18FT - and still keeps it in his three bed semi.
Marcus Hobbs, 31, purchased Hexxie from a pet shop eight years ago - and watched it become a 110kg (17 stone) whopper.
He feeds the massive snake rabbits, stillborn deer, calves, goats and pigs supplied by local farmers - and it's still growing.
The animal is expensive to keep and could be lethal if mishandled - squeezing a human to death in minutes and swallowing them whole.
But IT worker Marcus is confident Hexxie will never strike - although doesn't handle her when the his sons, aged four and one, are nearby.
The whopping reptile eats and produces a chalky poo once a month - large enough to fill a bin bag.
Experts say the biggest ever Burmese python was 18ft 8ins but Marcus think Hexxie is even bigger.
He says when he last measured his pet of eight years she was over 18ft - and has grown a lot since then.
But he's reluctant to anaesthetise her for the official measurement until she’s stopped growing.
Marcus, of Tewkesbury, Glos., said: “I knew she would be big but she has shocked everybody by how much she has grown.
"I am very passionate about snakes and I try to help people understand them.
"I think people are so scared of them because they think they are going to kill them but if people come around I can talk to them all day long about snakes to reassure them.
“[But] I would not get her out with the boys around. I would only do it while they were in bed or another room.
“I don’t think she’d be dangerous towards them but you have to use your common sense and I’m a responsible pet owner."
He added: "I’m friendly with a reptile specialist and when I first got in contact with him to try and get some piglets for food he said: ‘What have you got?’.
"When I sent him a picture he said she was the biggest Burmese python he had ever seen, and he's seen them in the wild.
“He said: 'You have got to measure her for the world record’. I measured her and she wasn’t quite there yet but she’s grown a lot since then.
"She could be there now. There is a possibility she’s already a record breaker but finding out is not that easy."
Hexxie lives alongside another smaller snake, Monty, and the family dog Shiloh, a Husky.
Marcus said both snakes have gone for him before - although not for a while.
He added that the nearest Hexxie has come to attacking him was when he had to apply iodene to a skin infection.
He said: "She went for me. Not properly - more of a back off, get away type of thing. She’s nipped but she’s never latched on.
"Her mouth is full of of hundreds of pin shaped teeth like fish hooks. If she gets hold of you, you cannot pull your hand out because all the teeth are going the wrong way.
"You would have to push your hand back into her mouth to unhook her teeth. If you pulled you would be pulling her teeth further into your skin."
Marcus said Hexxie is laid back because she has grown used to being touched by humans over the years.
He said: "I handled her every day and a lot of people will not do that.
"I know people who have had snake from small and because it struck them a couple of times they have not done it again. Now they will never be able to handle that snake.
"You can’t have a snake that big that’s trying to bite you because it would mean you would not be able to go near her. Especially as she’s in a confined space.
"You would not be able to anywhere near that tank without her trying to get you.
"You have to be regimented because the only way to stop her biting you is handle her every day when she is young until she gets used to it."
Marcus needs to enlist the help of other people if he needs to move Hexxie whole but added that he knows how to peel her off, tail first if she starts to coil around him.
He cannot say for certain he’d have the strength to do so but explains that she would let out a loud hissing noise followed by a foul smell as a warning to leave well alone if she was stressed or unhappy.
He added: "I would not let it get to that stage."
Under pet laws there is no requirement for a licence to keep non-poisonous snakes and Marcus is sceptical of tales of much smaller Burmese Pythons escaping or killing.
A ten-foot one has been blamed for the death of a zoo keeper in Caracas, Venezuela previously.Image by: TM Gloucestershire Live Image by: TM Gloucestershire Live
Marcus said: "A license would cost a lot of money and would not make any difference to people who are stupid or do not have any common sense.
"You couldn’t lose Hexxie. If I opened that tank door I don’t think she would even come out. She’s happy there, that’s her place.
"She’s nice and warm and doesn't want for much. Their brains are not like dogs. They don’t need excitement, they don’t suffer from boredom.
"That’s why they make such good pets. People think it’s cruel to keep them in the tank all time but they do not need or want to go far.
"If go to zoo they will have a bigger enclosure but you will not be able to see them because they will be curled up under a log.
''They don’t want to stretch out and they don’t like open spaces.
"They have simple brains. They want food water and heat. If they have all that they are happy."
Marcus paid £2,000 for the vivarium, £30 for each of the bulbs and the heating has to be constantly on full blast.
There’s also vet bills to consider and the stress of where to get food from.
Marcus caused stir when he put an appeal out on Facebook asking for farmers to donate any rabbits going to waste as food for Hexxie who can eat at least half a dozen at one sitting.
Marcus said: "Usually I have lab rabbits which are hard to get hold off and expensive but I know farmers shoot them as pests and a lot of times they get thrown away.
"People say they can’t believe I would ask such a thing but I wonder how many of them have cats or dogs. You don’t feed them carrots and broccoli, do you?
"I have never killed an animal and would never want to, but these things I have, they eat animals."
A local pet shop owner now puts him touch with farmers who can help.
Marcus had his first snake for his 13th birthday and believes it's down to watching Steve Irwin on the television.
He had royal python Monty for his 16th birthday and around a year later came home with George, a 7ft boa constrictor which later died, without telling his parents.
He said: “My family have always been into wildlife so I was always destined to get some sort of animal.
“But it’s snakes that just fascinate me. I can watch them all day long.
"When I was living on my own, years ago before I had children, if there was a power cut, I would put them in the bed with me to keep them warm.
"I would wake up in the morning and they would still be there."
Marcus met partner Amy, 31, while they both worked at a hotel in Cheltenham, Glos.
They eventually hooked up at a leaving do - and she quickly realised that it would be a case of "love me love my serpent".
She said: “I knew before we got together. We worked together five or six years before then and he always had that reputation.
“I was well aware they were part of his life...whether I liked it or not.”
Animal-lover Amy added that she was okay with reptiles, but said: "I’m more your fluffy, cute, type of animal person.”
Now the she understands her Marcus' emotional attachment to his slithering pets her main issued is how much household space they take up.
She said: “They carry a lot of stigma but they do grow on you.
"People don’t associate them with pets so they find it hard to make the comparison but you see them every day and get attached.
“If we didn’t have them I would miss them but I wouldn’t miss the space they take up.
"When we had our first it wasn’t too bad because we had a three-bedroomed, but when the second one came along we needed that third bedroom.
“Either the snakes went or we compromised the room downstairs. The snakes won and now I just accept that they are in our living room.”
The couple have bought their current house and are confident their neighbours realise they are responsible pet owners.
Marcus said: "We have not had a problem. If you think Hexxie's going to get out, get into your house, get into your bedroom and eat you while you sleep, then I think your imagination’s too strong.
"If door is closed there’s nowhere for her to go and she would not go upstairs. She just wouldn’t. It would not be worth her while. She wouldn’t need to, there’s no reason.
"If you knew anything about reptiles you would have a very different opinion.
"I would not lock a dog in cage. A dog needs exercise, a dog needs companionship, a dog needs its brain to be worked. A snake’s brain is not like that at all.”Image by: TM Gloucestershire Live Image by: TM Gloucestershire Live
Marcus said he spends about £12 to £15 every four to six weeks on food but is given much of it for free.
He said: "I get a lot of stillborn lambs and deers. It's a couple of quid for rabbits."
Marcus said he feeds the animals to Hexxie whole - "guts and everything".
He said: "I have a bit of fun with it. I dangle it in front of her and pull it back so she thinks it's trying to get away.
''She eats six or seven animals in one sitting which lasts for about a month."
The Burmese python is housed in a six foot by three foot by three foot wooden tank with a glass front. in his living room not far from the family television.
Marcus said he spends "five minutes a day" taking care of the serpent.
He added: "It doesn't take much looking after. As long as they have got food and heat they are fine. They're extremely easy [pets]."
When asked what he would say to people who might criticise him for keeping a potentially lethal snake in the same house as his kids, he said: "She's in a locked vivarium with reinforced glass. It's very hard for her to go anywhere. She's always out only when they are out of the room.
"She wouldn't see the children as something to eat. She wouldn't like the smell. She doesn't associate the smell of humans to food. If she did she wouldn't be safe to keep."
Marcus added that he was "fully prepared" for the snake to grow to the size it has.
He said: "I've had reptiles for years. I wouldn't buy not knowing."Image by: TM Gloucestershire Live
Charles Thompson, snake expert and owner of a reptile shop in Sheffield, South Yorks., said: "If they [Burmese pythons] are handled regularly they can be puppy dog tame - but that isn't to say there's no risk.
"I have no issues with people keeping giant snakes as long as they are geared up and have the correct equipment. It's all that zoos are doing. Keeping the glass locked is common sense.
"But to get it to 18-foot he would have had to cosset, love and adore that snake. He's obviously put a lot of time into it. There's no more danger than having a family dog. They [snakes] just have a specific set of problems.
"He could even let the children in the room - although I'm not saying they should handle it."
When asked about the record-breaking claims, Mr Thompson said such matters were difficult to answer conclusively.
He said: "It's one of them where somebody would have to raise their own head above the parapet and say otherwise."Video by: TM Gloucestershire Live