A cat owner had quite the shock when she went out to hang up her washing and found a boa constrictor on the loose.
The surprised householder from Crayford, London, quickly scooped up her cat and went inside after seeing the six-foot long snake on Wednesday.
When the RSPCA arrived, the snake had slithered into the middle of the lawn in her back garden in a bid to soak up some sun.
RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon said: “Although it was sunny, it was still very cold, so he was quite sluggish and my colleague inspector Rosie Wren and I were able to safely contain him in a snake bag.
“We took the boa to South Essex Wildlife Hospital where they examined him.
“Luckily, he appears in good condition, so we would like to find out more about him and would urge anyone with information to contact us.”
It is not unusual for snakes to escape in the summer months because some keepers let their pets outside for a bit of sun and fresh air. However it is less common at this time of year.
For this reason the RSPCA believes it may have been abandoned by its owner.
Inspector Russon said: “Sadly, we have to deal with a lot of abandoned snakes. We find that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, which we believe may be why we are rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.
“Snakes are completely dependent on their owners for the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and feed, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible to keep them healthy and allow them to express their normal behaviour.”
She added: “Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases, dehydration, injuries, parasites, and in severe cases or if left untreated, they can eventually die.
“We would urge anyone who is struggling to cope with their pets to contact their local vet or rescue centre and ask for help.”
Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets.
Owners should invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and make sure the enclosure is kept secure and locked if necessary when unattended.
Reptiles, particularly snakes, can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door or a loose-fitting lid.
It is possible to microchip snakes and the RSPCA would recommend that owners ask their exotics vet to do this so that snakes can be easily reunited if lost and found.
For more information, please visit the RSPCA’s website at https://www.rspca.org.uk/