Residents at a care home in the UK had a visit this week with exotic critters brought in to introduce humans to the animals.
The exotic animals included a boa constrictor, a water dragon and a Madagascar hissing cockroach. Resident Betty Asprey, 92, said she was a feline fan.
Other animals included a gecko and giant African millipede, which were brought to the home by a trained handler.
Though the reptiles might not look endearing, the animal therapy sessions are actually designed to introduce the seniors to new experiences and boost their mental health.
Sarah Mair, home manager at Bupa Arkley Care Home, told the Sun newspaper.
You wouldn’t expect a sweet old lady to be front of the queue to have her photo with a snake, but our residents are a fearless bunch.
We host animal therapy sessions regularly and they always get a great response.Some people are apprehensive to start, but they end up with a smile on their face and a snake on their shoulders.”
Asprey, the resident said she thought the critters would be more frightening.
Growing up we were always taught to be frightened of them, but after today I’m not.
It was actually very sweet and not scary at all. I never thought I’d change my mind at this age, but I’m glad I did.”
It’s not the first time that the home has organized animal visits for residents, with colleagues previously welcoming dogs, cats, a rabbit – and even a tarantula.
Animal therapy has been shown to improve the mental health of older people and can help mitigate feelings of stress of agitation.
It’s particularly effective for those who become withdrawn from social situations – a common result of hearing loss or dementia – as the shared bond goes beyond verbal communication.
The home is now thinking about other animals it can bring in to meet guests – and are currently exploring options to bring in a miniature pony.
h/t: The Sun