Snake owners advised to be ‘extra vigilant’ as heatwave triggers escape alert

Snake owners have been advised to be “extra vigilant” as hot weather can make snakes very active and more likely to escape, warned the RSPCA.

The alert comes as a stray three and a half feet-long corn snake was found in a wheelie bin in Stoke-on-Trent last week.

The surprised resident described how he “jumped and screamed” after discovering the snake.

On July 7 a corn snake was found in a wheelie bin in Stoke-on-Trent (RSPCA/ PA)
On July 7 a corn snake was found in a wheelie bin in Stoke-on-Trent (RSPCA/ PA)

Last year the animal charity received 1,219 reports about pet snakes in need of help, with an average of six calls per day during the hottest months of the year – June, July and August.

This year, as UK braces for its continued heatwave, the charity is advising snake owners to be particularly careful and to double-check that the animals’ enclosures are securely fastened.

RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said: “Snakes are excellent escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door or a loose-fitting lid to make a break for it.

“We would urge all pet snake owners to be extra vigilant at this time of year, invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and make sure that enclosure is kept secure – and locked if necessary – when unattended.”

During the hot weather, the RSPCA has recommended snake owners pay close attention and practise caution when taking their pet outside to take advantage of the natural sunlight.

While sunlight is good for reptiles, the charity has urged owners to ensure their pet is kept secure when doing so as they can get hot and move very quickly.

The RSPCA receives around 90,000 calls to its emergency line every month but in the summer calls reportedly rise to around 134,000 a month.

Seven snakes left abandoned in a house
Snakes are excellent escape artists, says the RSPCA (RSPCA/ PA)

“A few extra minutes checking that your snake is secure could help save our officers’ time and allow them to save an animal that’s in danger,” Ms Button said.

“Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets but sadly, we also 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.

“The needs of reptiles can be challenging to meet because they are just the same as they would be in the wild and are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions that can be difficult to replicate in a domestic environment.”

The RSPCA has advised that if anyone finds a snake they believe to be non-native to the UK, keep a safe distance, monitor the snake and call the charity’s helpline on 0300 1234 999 or a local reptile charity.