A MENAGERIE of exotic creatures from Manchester Museum delighted patients at Trafford General.

A live Royal African python snake, leaf frog and lizard visited patients in the stroke unit’s day room.

The animals were shown by Manchester Museum curator Andrew Gray, who introduced the exotic species and invited patients to handle them.

Patient Alfred Oakley got to grips with each animal, including the Royal African Python which can grow up to 5 ft long. The vividly coloured leaf frog was also a hit with patients and staff, who were treated to a display of the frog’s impressive camouflaging ability, initially being almost undetectable on a leaf.

The visit was organised by Central Manchester Hospitals’ Healing Environments project as part of an ongoing partnership with Manchester Museums and Art Galleries. The animals were brought in to inspire patients taking part in the ward’s art classes currently being held twice weekly for patients.

It’s widely believed that visits to museums, art galleries and indulging your creative side is linked to improved health and wellbeing. The innovative partnership was created to harness the health benefits of creativity by bringing arts and culture into hospital settings.

The art classes follow the success of a previous series of classes which saw the patients’ finished creations displayed in Manchester Museum’s ‘Coral: Something Rich and Strange’ exhibition.

Luan Marsh, occupational therapist on the unit, said the art classes contribute to the recovery of patients: “Art therapy is a great way to get our patients together, chatting and sharing interests and inspiration.

“It’s great for the obvious social aspect but also for improving mobility and movement in our patients which is a very important part of their rehabilitation.”

Artist Nicky Colclough has been leading the classes. Nicky teaches patients new skills and techniques such as mono-printing, collage, observational drawing and watercolour painting.

Nicky said: “The art group has grown and grown in popularity and we’re finding more and more patients attend every week as word gets around. The support from staff has been fantastic. It’s been a great opportunity for patients to come along, interact and make friends while recovering.”

Patient Dorothy Hassall enjoyed the visit. She said: “It’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever seen.

“My favourite was the leaf frog, he was lovely.”