Snakes are not a comfortable topic for most people. Most would shudder at the thought, or worse still, the sight of them. Simon Keys apparently does not understand that fear. The tattooed charmer from the UK is so in love with snakes and all things that slither that he has made a living catching them his entire life.
Since 2014, Simon has shot and filmed his reptilian escapades in South Africa. This has aired as part of Nat Geo Wild’s wildlife documentary programming since November 2014. This show has gradually brought awareness to the swiftly diminishing snake habitats and its effect on our ecosystem. Simon’s show also helps to educate people on how to be prepared for a snake invasion.
Simon Keys From “Snake City” – Bio
The Englishman was born in Hertfordshire, England, on July 15, 1974. Nothing is known about his parents, siblings or education and childhood years.
Keys, as long as he can remember, has always been in love with reptiles. As a kid, while his friends were worried about other stuff, Simon loved to spend his weekends hunting and catching lizards and newts. As the years passed, this quickly became more than a weekend activity. Keys studied extensively and read up on every kind of snake there was.
Soon he started collecting snakes; at one point, Simon reveals he had about 88 venomous snakes in his bedroom, consisting of boas, spitting cobras, king cobras, pythons, tailspins and much more. By the time he was 30, Simon Keys sat at the helm of one of the largest snake empires in England.
Simon’s business gained more direction and purpose when he decided to focus on rescuing snakes, especially in residential and urban areas, and releasing them back into the wild. This fueled his decision to relocate to Durban, South Africa where the Brit started a snake removal service. In the beginning, he used to get about 90 calls a month and about 120 calls for his services in summer months.
As the business grew, Simon Keys decided to find extra ways to monetize it besides collecting a fee for his services. This led him to production company Earth Touch. He hired them to film a video promo of one of his snake rescues, a spitting cobra in that instance.
The director informed Simon that he believed this business could be turned into something more. The production company, on Simon’s request, contacted Nat Geo Wild and soon they had penned a deal to make a documentary series, Snake City, from his snake rescue service. The series bumped up his popularity and consequently, the number of calls he received increased.
The snake man has handled daring rescues from removing a black mamba from the engine of a car to rescuing a 20-foot python from a hilltop hut and cobras trapped in a kitchen.
Naturally, he has endured some occupational hazards. On two separate occasions, Simon Keys revealed that he had been bitten by a copperhead snake. He describes the pain as extremely searing and numbing with significant swelling. He is grateful that he didn’t have to undergo any form of amputation.
Personal Life – Girlfriend And Family
As stated earlier, nothing is known about his family. However, Simon’s love life is proof that there is always someone who will share one’s interest, however unconventional they may be.
When Simon started out, he was married to fellow reptile lover, Nadine Keys. Together, they started the filming of Snake City. Unfortunately, their love couldn’t be sustained by their shared reptilian passion and they went their separate ways after the first season of the series and seven years living together in South Africa.
Simon Keys then entered a relationship with Siouxsie Gillett. She was an old friend from Simon’s time back in England. Siouxsie was a trained herpetologist and first met Simon when he took up employment at the UK reptilian store she managed back then.
Keys and Gillett picked up where he and Nadine left off, filming the Snake City call outs for Nat Geo Wild. They currently spend their time between the UK and South Africa.
There is no doubt these love birds are aware of the dangers of their line of work. Apart from his close shaves with snakes, Simon’s girlfriend, Siouxsie Gillett, interestingly has an allergy to snake venom. An allergy that can amplify the potency of a snake bite should she suffer any. Still, they are happy to provide their services to their clients.
The couple once worked at a snake Sanctuary called the Secret Sanctuary in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. There, they had all sorts of dangerous snakes from diamond rattlesnakes to Malayan vipers. They also have other reptiles and animals including a macaw, two rescue dogs, about 20 arachnids, four meerkats and so on.
What Is His Net Worth?
Before his big break with Snake City, Simon had to work some other jobs while in England and subsequently in South Africa.
In England, we count his time at the reptilian store where Siouxsie Gillett worked and the Secret Sanctuary at Bedfordshire. At South Africa, he and Gillett were charging about £15 per call-out. To make ends meet, Simon Keys had to take up extra jobs as a diver and a tattoo artist.
According to many online outlets, the reptile lover has racked up a net worth of $300,000 when you factor in his revenue from Snake City.