A nanny got the shock of her life when she discovered a five foot long snake curled up in the family’s kitchen, amid a worrying surge in the number of snake escapes across Britain.
The reticulated python was sitting on top of the boiler at the property in Tooting, south London.
The shocked woman called the RSPCA who came round to remove the reptile which they believe had been abandoned and crawled in to the home.
Animal Rescue Officer Abigail Campbell attended the house in Lucien Road along with fellow RSPCA officer Mat (corr) Hawkins on September 13.
She said: ‘The nanny took Mat and I through to the kitchen, she was quite scared of the snake so kept well back.
The reticulated python was sitting on top of the boiler at the property in Tooting, south London
‘When I looked into the room I saw the python curled up on top of the kitchen boiler.
‘He was most likely up there as it would have been the warmest part of the house and snakes need external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.
‘The nanny believes he got into the boiler room through a gap in the wall from the garden. We believe he has either escaped or was abandoned nearby.
‘We did put up ‘Animal Found’ posters around the area and we have not had anyone call in so are leaning towards the assumption he was abandoned.
‘He was slightly skinny. I gave him a nudge just to make sure he wasn’t aggressive but he was very calm and allowed me to pick him up no problem, although he did cling on to the boiler pipe very tightly, he was very strong.
‘He was very chilled and became somewhat lively once he had been picked up, looking around and smelling the air.
‘He was placed in a snake bag where he chilled out again and curled up. We took him to South Essex Wildlife Hospital where he remains now.
‘Sadly it is not unusual for us to be called to collect an abandoned snake.
The shocked woman called the RSPCA who came round to remove the reptile which they believe had been abandoned and crawled in to the home
Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets
‘We believe many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, and we suspect the reality of caring for them has become too much in these cases.
‘This is why we would encourage anyone thinking of getting an exotic pet to find out as much as possible about the animal’s needs and whether they’re the right pet for them.
‘It is so sad as people who are struggling to cope could simply ask for help and advice which is why the RSPCA has launched its dedicated cost of living web pages.’
Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets.
This comes after data from UK Pet Food revealed how the number of snakes being kept in homes has soared from 500,000 to 700,000 in 12 months, while the RSPCA said it received 1,031 reports involving the reptiles last year.
The problem is particularly severe in the summer, as they become more active in warmer temperatures.
Inexperienced keepers have been urged to pay special attention to their pet snakes due to the rise in escapees. Pythons, boa constrictors and corn snakes are three of the most popular species to keep.
There are three snakes native to Britain: the adder, which is venomous; the grass snake, which is harmless and commonly found in gardens; and the smooth snake.
But according to Sunday Times, there are also around 30 aescalupians – a type of rat snake native to Europe which can grow more than six feet long – currently living in the undergrowth along Regent’s Canal in London. They live off rats.
Another reason why more snakes escape in the summer is that some owners take them outside to take advantage of the natural sunlight, which causes them to warm up and move quickly, the RSPCA said.
But the RSPCA’s senior scientific officer Evie Button previously 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, which we believe contributes to the hundreds of animals every year who have sadly been abandoned when their owners can no longer meet their needs.
‘Exotic pets such as snakes often end up in the RSPCA’s care after people realise they’re not easy to care for, or the novelty wears off.’
It comes after police arrived in West Bromwich at around 1.30am last month to discover a yellow python – one of world’s biggest snakes which are native to Southeast Asia – in the middle of the road.
But with the RSPCA unable to attend due to the time of the call, it took three brave response officers to step in to rescue it.
After putting a bag over its head and ushering it into a police van, the slippery suspect was taken to a vets to be checked over.
It was the latest in a string of recent incidents, with officers in Aston, Birmingham being left shocked in June when they came across a boa constrictor.
The charity 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 would recommend that owners ask their exotics vet to do this, so that snakes can be easily reunited if lost and found.