Live updates

Owner of missing boa constrictor insists 'he's docile as anything'

Liam and Thor. Credit: Facebook/Liam Pilcher.

An eight-and-a-half foot boa constrictor is on the loose in Essex.

Liam Pilcher, from Chelmsford, returned home on Saturday night to discover his beloved pet Thor was no longer in his cage - or anywhere in the house.

Liam said he was very concerned for the snake's welfare and urged anyone who saw Thor to get in touch via Facebook.

But he insisted people should not be frightened.

"He's an eight-and-a-half-foot red tail boa - big boy but as docile as anything.

"I've checked as far up and down all the roads as I can and I have a funny feeling he's made his way into a back garden or something.

"I want my boy back."

– Liam Pilcher, Thor's owner.

Firefighter frees trapped tortoise with Vaseline

A Norfolk firefighter has freed a trapped tortoise with nothing more than a smear of Vaseline.

Tommy the tortoise got his leg stuck in the base of a heavy sundial in a garden in East Harling.

When the owner couldn't rescue him, a fire officer from Norfolk Fire Service was called in from Thetford.

Derek Sim told the Eastern Daily Press that Tommy was "quite distressed" and was hissing violently. The lubricant was rubbed on his leg and Tommy slipped out.

"There are a couple of us in the station with more than 20 years experience and neither of us have ever seen anything like that. It was certainly a first for me.”

– Derek Sim, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service


Animal rights campaigners call for shock collar ban

Campaigners for animal rights are tonight backing calls to ban electric shock collars, used to train dogs and cats.

The devices, which are freely on sale, are said to cause pain, fear and distress to the animals instead of rewarding them for good behaviour.

But the people who make, sell and use the collars say they are a valuable training aid that can help to control dogs when they are distracted or at a distance from the owner.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News reporter David Johns on the pros and cons

What do you think about using electric collars to train dogs?

Join the debate on our Facebook page.

Hospital pet scheme

Experts say contact with pets can be beneficial to some patients Credit: Press Association

Pet owners in Norfolk and Suffolk are being asked to volunteer to take their dogs and cats into hospitals to visit patients in mental health wards.

Experts say contact with an animal can be beneficial, can alleviate depression and give patients something to look forward to.