A NEW nocturnal and exotic animal house will open at Barleylands Farm this month with a host of unusual creatures – some of which are not found anywhere else in this region of England.

With more than 30 exotic mammals, reptiles and amphibians, the new addition to the farm park’s Discovery Barn will offer hands-on experiences and talks.

There will also be displays to illustrate native habits and habitats, survival stories and unusual achievements, such as a rat specialising in bomb disposal.

Set over two floors, the nocturnal creatures – which include fruit bats that eat over a kilogram of fruit every day, and sugar gliders – will be on the ground floor, with reptiles on the first floor.

The new attraction in Billericay has been created by Gary Muirden and Faith Scott, who also run the Birds of Prey area at Barleylands.

Ms Scott said: “We wanted to build on the educational and recreational foundations of Barleylands and showcase some of the world’s lesser known creatures.

“We are excited to have some of the animals already settled in, and more will arrive over the course of the next few weeks.”

It has an emphasis on education as well as the opportunity to see different species, and each habitat has been built to recreate the natural environment of the inhabitants.

The colourful murals that intersperse the displays have been painted by a local registered charity Dis 4 U, which works with adults with learning difficulties.

The first floor includes a small educational room with interactive displays, an illustrative world map and stories including the reasons for the trafficking of exotic animals.

Ms Scott added: “Some of the animals we have will not be familiar to many visitors, and even those that are, we hope to share new and interesting aspects to be enjoyed by all ages.

“This will include regular talks, up-close experiences and the opportunity to hold some of the animals and reptiles.”

Access to the new attraction is included in the entry price for the Farm Park, for which entry is half-price until January 31 this year.

School and nursery groups will be able to include the new area in educational visits with informative talks and experiences tailored to the age-group.