Boa constrictors like just to hold onto things, so he will climb on my head, climb over my face. He wants to climb on that sound arm. That's not a tree. My name's Martine. This is Hugo. He's a boa constrictor from Colombia, but captive-bred. I'm 28 years old, live in Birmingham. I also keep a lot of different species of tarantulas, centipedes and scorpions. It's not exactly normal. I was a 10-a-day smoker for several years. The reason I stopped smoking was for the benefit of my pets, to give them a better life. Here we are upstairs, where I keep my babies. I'm not in the best line of employment and I don't make a whole lot of money. I work at a supermarket, minimum wage. I'm a porter, or most people know it as a trolley dolly. I started smoking when I was 18. You think you are a bit invincible. You think, "Oh, cancer's not going to happen to me.” I had a snake before this one called Pumpkin. She lived in a house with heavy smokers. She became extremely ill with a respiratory infection. You can see here, she’s opening her mouth, really trying to get a breath of air there, which she’s…struggling a lot. She ended up having to go to someone else who could care for her better than I could, because I couldn't afford the vet bills after. I spent roughly about £2,000 on trying to get her sorted out. Watching it is quite hard because I know it was caused by smoking and that’s something I used to do. I'm glad I gave up because I know I won't cause something like this to my animals. It would be selfish just to carry on smoking when I've got all this responsibility. It's just a waste of money, where it could be spent better for my babies and for myself. I'm sorry! He's slowly dragging me away. Any money I save from not buying cigarettes is now just spent completely on my animals. -Morning Al. -Hello Martine. You alright love? This is the shop I come to, where I get my dead rats and insects and stuff from. Little tortoises are having their dinner. How are you? There's a little snake in his house. This is a bearded dragon. They're like little dogs. Like a little spiky leather dog. Do you think I could get one out for a cuddle? Hello. He is so nice. I'm going to end up wanting to take it home. Good boy. I'll grab some of these while I'm here. I appreciate that. If it's weird I probably want it. This is Dexter. This is my crested gecko. You're not scaring anybody little guy. My animals are a lot more comfortable being handled, since I quit smoking. Not having the smell of tobacco on my hands or in my hair or on my clothes, it makes them a lot happier. Why go out and have a cigarette, when I could be spending time with my huge boa constrictor. He's just an absolute sweetheart. I can hold my snake and cuddle it and it will wrap round me. The spider I can just sit there and I can just watch it for hours. They're all incredibly interesting in their own ways. So who's in here now? That's Blueberry and she still hasn't eaten that roach. I had my first date with my boyfriend Jake, about a year and a half ago. He didn't have any pets when I met him. He came round to my house and met my tarantula Georgie Michael. He fell in love with tarantulas. He has in his flat, 14 different kinds of tarantula now. I mean I've never met anyone that's been into exotic creatures. On my Tinder profile, I did include in the little bio bit, like spiders and snakes and everything. If someone wouldn't accept this, then there's no way on earth they would have accepted me. I always saw it as a complete positive. I was just like "Wow, that’s f***ing cool.” When we move in together, hopefully all the babies will fit into one room. You want that anaconda which is only about that little now, but will eventually grow, but that will be like, “How long do they take to grow? Like 10 years?” Yeah, about 8 feet long. Post smoking-life, obviously I can spend every waking moment I have either with these babies or with family. I'm not popping outside every five minutes for a cigarette. The connection I have with my animals is definitely stronger, now I've quit smoking.


How Snakes and Spiders Helped Martine Quit Cigs

This is a sample from our ‘Quit Cigarettes’ mission, which is currently live in the UK. Our goal is to increase the amount of people in the UK who quit cigarettes. Read more about our first mission here.

Martine used to smoke ten cigarettes a day. Until she realised her slithery little friend didn't like her habit. Here's how Martine's menagerie inspired her to quit.