A NORTHWICH woman is giving young and old alike the chance to take a walk on the wild side with her new exotic animal encounter business. Earlier this month, the Guardian was able to join in with the fun as some of Northwich’s older residents got up close and personal with a few of nature’s little critters...

SELF-confessed animal lover Samantha Smith is putting her passion for all things great and small to good use with her latest venture, Sam’s Scales ‘n’ Tails.

The 32-year-old, of Lostock Gralam, started the business in April with the sole aim of offering exotic pet sitting and doggy day care.

Now, three months later, the mother-of-three has branched out, sharing her ever-growing collection of animals with Northwich’s young and old.

With 16 animals of her own including snakes, guinea pigs, turtles, lizards, giant rabbits, turtles, rats, frogs and dogs, Sam is keen to help educate youngsters about the responsibilities of having pets, while helping older generations to relive their youth.

Earlier this month, Sam visited her former workplace – Crossways Care Home – where residents and staff were able to have a face to face encounter with a whole host of animals.

“Bringing the animals to places like Crossways can help to trigger memories for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s,” explained Sam.

“A lot of the residents will have had animals when they were younger so it’s great for them to be able to play with snakes and guinea pigs like they used to have.

“It gets them talking and communicating with each other.”

As well as looking after her own animals, Sam is also willing to give a home to pets that people are struggling to look after.

“When people buy pets they’re not told how hard it can be to look after them and how much care they need – sometimes it’s just too much for people.

“I’m very happy to take on animals and try to rehome them to people who have the knowledge and experience to look after them.

“That’s another great thing about what I do – it’s educational.

“When I go into schools I can help to educate the children on how easy or difficult certain animals are to look after.

“I tell the kids about the responsibility of having one of these animals, and all of the gory details like how the rabbits like to leave a mess.

“It helps to take away that ‘I want a pet’ urge and helps them to realise it’s hard work.”

As well as schools and care homes, Sam and her animals are also available to hire for birthday parties for a fee of £60 an hour.

If you’re interested in hiring Sam for an event, call her on 07969 175223.