What would you do if you spotted a four foot long snake you believe is non-native in your garden?
The correct answer is try not to faint or scream, keep a safe distance, monitor the snake and call the RSPCA helpline on 0300 1234 999.
That’s what a shocked resident of Langley near Middleton did at the weekend when he spotted a four-foot long snake slithering across his garden.
The man saw the snake in the garden of his home on Millbeck Road on Saturday at around 3pm and reported it to the animal welfare charity.
Inspector Vicki McDonald was sent to the scene and was able to safely collect the reptile which has now been identified as a Californian king snake, which can bite but is not venomous.
“The caller was quite calm considering you don’t expect to see a snake in your garden and he had no idea if it was venomous or not,” said Vicki. “It has obviously been very cold of late so I guess the snake had hidden in a wall cavity perhaps near a hot water pipe to survive so long”.
The snake was taken to a vet for a health check and was in the care of a specialist reptile keeper whilst an appeal was made on a lost and found pet website for his owner to come forward.
John Clayton (17), who lives on the same street, saw the appeal and was only too pleased to be reunited with his pet snake Lucifer which had been missing for two months.
“I was so pleased Lucifer was safely found,” said John. “After two months I did begin to fear the worse as snakes obviously need warmth. He had always been so well cared for so I was worried about how he would cope and I was so upset when I found him missing.
“I think he escaped when my little brother lifted the lid on his vivarium and my bedroom window was open so I guess he managed to slither down the drainpipe.
“Luckily, he must have found somewhere warm to stay before he was spotted. I am so grateful for the RSPCA helping me to find him.”
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “We would always recommend owners invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and that 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.”
If anyone loses a snake there are a number of lost and found pet websites where details can be logged including PetsLocated. It is possible to microchip snakes and the RSPCA recommends that owners ask their exotics vet to do this so that snakes can be easily reunited if lost and found.