When a puppy just won’t do: Father who allows his daughter, 7, to play with his 15ft pet pythons insists it’s less dangerous than trampolining – and claims they’re nicer than most humans

Coming face to face with two 15ft pythons would be enough to terrify anybody, but one father-daughter duo is showing the world that snakes are not a species to be feared.

Ed Taoka, 39, a massage therapist from Surrey, is a proud owner of two reticulated pythons – six-year-old Sonny and five-year-old Cher and wants to change people’s attitude to the reptiles. 

Emi, Ed’s seven-year-old daughter, can often be seen on social media cuddling and playing with the snakes – totally unruffled by their size or capacity for danger.
Her father explained that he would never leave his child unsupervised with the reptiles, but added they are nicer than people imagine them to be.  

Ed Taoka, from Surrey, owns two 15-foot pythons named Sonny and Cher, and lets his seven-year-old daughter Emi play with them, Pictured: Ed and Emi with five-year-old python Cher

‘The relationship between my daughter and the snakes has gotten stronger over time,’ he said. 

‘The first time my daughter decided she wanted to touch the snakes, she was about a year-and-a-half old.’
Ed’s interest in reptiles started when he was a young boy, and he credits the animals with helping him, to overcome social anxiety.

‘What I’ve been most surprised about is how calm they make me feel when I’m holding them,’ he said.

While most children would find it scary to hang out with a 15-foot reptile, Emi is unphased by her scaly friend (Cher, pictured)

Despite the snakes being ‘very strong predators’ who ‘demand respect,’ Ed feels comfortable with his daughter being near the snakes, but is adamant she would never be left unsupervised.

He explained: ‘When you invite any pet or animal into your house you have to expect to be bitten – all animals can bite.

‘But I would never leave my daughter alone with any animal.’

Ed admitted that his beloved pets could strangle his daughter if they wanted, but said he would never let them with her unsupervised (pictured: Emi and Cher on the sofa)

The father explained reptiles were gentle creatures that were much nicer than people thought. He added he found them nicer than most humans

Emi began interacting with Sonny and Cher when she was just over a year old.

Once Ed believed she had the understanding to be gentle, he was more prepared for Emi to stroke the snakes.

In response to those who think he is irresponsible, Ed said: ‘I think supervised interactions with constrictors are relatively safe. They are safer than trampolines and bouncy castles.’

Both of the reptiles have ‘gentle and docile’ personalities, but like many animals, their temperament changes when food is involved.

Ed with six-year-old python Sonny wrapped around his body. Ed said the reptiles helped him with his social anxiety 

Sonny and Cher live off a diet of defrosted rats and rabbits, being fed approximately every two weeks.

‘As soon as they get the smell of food – that’s what sets them off. You can see it in their eyes.’

Ed began sharing his life with his daughter and pet pythons on social media to prove they are not animals that should be demonised.

People were soon captivated by the pictures of a young girl playing with a huge python draped across her.

‘I enjoy filming the gentle interactions between my daughter and the snakes – it just amazes me on a daily basis how they behave.’

Ed explained he let Emi interact with the pythons to show them she was no prey to them, and said they would not bite her as long as she did not pose a threat 

Fearless. Emi cuddle the 15-foot python on the house’s sofa. Ed said he wanted to change people’s attitude towards the big reptiles

Ed wants to challenge people’s perceptions of snakes and believes showing the snakes in a domestic environment can do this.

‘As soon as you say a large constrictor and a child, everyone thinks the worst – that’s what I’m trying to change,’ he said. 

Emi appears to share Ed’s views, appearing unbothered by the 15-foot python slithering over her whilst she plays with her dollhouse.

When asked if he feels the snakes could pose a potential threat, Ed explained: ‘They could stop her breathing if they managed to get around her neck, but I don’t think they could eat my daughter at this size.’

A python’s life expectancy is about 20 to 30 years, meaning Emi will grow to love the reptiles even more

The reason, Ed says, for allowing his daughter to interact with the snakes is to show them that she is not prey.

‘If they understand she’s not food or a threat, they won’t bite her.’

The life expectancy for a reticulated python is around 20 to 30 years, giving Ed and Emi plenty more years of fun with Sonny and Cher whilst educating others on the species.

‘As long as you don’t frighten or hurt them, they are very gentle and docile animals,’ he continued.

‘They are actually nicer than most humans I’ve encountered.’