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COUERON, France (Reuters) 

In an unassuming house on France’s River Loire, a cobra lives on the coffee table, a 50 kg (110-pound) tortoise roams the garden and a two-meter (seven-foot) alligator sleeps in the owner’s bed while another keeps watch at the door

Over two decades, 67-year-old reptile enthusiast Philippe Gillet has amassed a collection of more than 400 phobia-inducing animals, including rattlesnakes, tarantulas and lizards in his home in western France near the city of Nantes.

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives a banana to his iguana in his garden in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives a banana to his iguana in his garden in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Gillet says the two alligators, named Ali and Gator, were rescued from a leather farm but most of the animals are pets that outstayed their welcome elsewhere and have been abandoned or donated.

“I think it’s unfair to treat these animals the way we do because we don’t understand them,” he told Reuters after feeding chicken to his alligators.

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, poses with a python in his house in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, poses with a python in his house in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

“We don’t understand them, we hate them, we think they’re horrible. But when we get to know them, you can call them over, tell them to come and eat something for example.”

Gillet says he has all the necessary permits to keep and transport the animals for roadshows which he runs to raise awareness about reptiles.

 

 

He insists the locals do not mind their unusual neighbors and regularly pop in for coffee, safe in the knowledge that the most dangerous snakes are kept in a room behind two sets of doors.

But the local fire department is more cautious: they are under instructions not to enter his house in an emergency.

 

(Reporting Udi Kivity. Writing by Johnny Cotton. Editing by Patrick Johnston and Robin Pomeroy)

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Ali in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Ali in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at his King Cobra in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at a tarantula in his house in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at his black cobra in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, feeds his Northern caiman lizard in his house in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Ali in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Ali in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligator Ali in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

 

Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, gives chicken to his alligators Ali and Gator in his living room in Coueron near Nantes
Philippe Gillet, 67 year-old Frenchman who lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators, looks at his black cobra in his living room in Coueron near Nantes, France September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe