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'Must have been a surprise to find 8ft snake in shed'

The boa constrictor found on a Hampshire allotment is 8 feet long Photo: RSPCA

The RSPCA is warning people who want to keep exotic pets to research what they are letting themselves in for, before making the commitment.

The warning comes after an eight-foot-long snake was found in a shed at an allotment in Andover, Hampshire.

The charity was contacted by a member of the public who made the discovery on Thursday 14th June. The organisation is not sure how the snake got there and have put out an appeal for the owner to come forward.

One suggestion, is that the animal may have been abandoned. Phil Hamilton, the RSPCA exotics officer who rescued the snake said that they want to stress to people that they should find out beforehand what keeping an exotic pet entails before bringing one into their family home.

"... make sure that you can provide everything that animal needs for the animal’s entire life.”

“If anyone thinks they may know who this snake belongs to then we would urge them to get in touch with us by calling our inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

“It’s hard to know for sure how this snake came to be in the allotment but it must have been a surprise to find an 8ft Boa constrictor in amongst the garden tools.

“The snake may have escaped from a vivarium or may have been abandoned. Sadly the snake isn’t microchipped so we do not know where they may have come from.

“Snakes aren’t able to produce their own body heat and as a boa constrictor is not native to this country this snake would require a heated environment with the correct temperature range for the species for the snake to stay healthy and carry out normal behaviour. Being outdoors in the UK could potentially be really serious as their body can’t function normally if they become too cold.

“The RSPCA has seen a growing number of reptiles - including snakes - being abandoned, which is thought to be because they are too much of a commitment for some people.

“Many people do not realise what they are taking on when they buy these pets so we are urging prospective buyers to do their research before getting one. We are seeing a worrying number of boa constrictors coming into our centres, because owners are no longer able to care for them."

– Phil Hamilton, RSPCA exotics officer

Reptile experts at the RSPCA are looking after the snake until its owners are found, or at least until they can find a new home for the animal. The organisation said that it has dozens of reptiles needing new homes with knowledgeable new owners who can look after the animals properly. The organisation has a website with information about rehoming reptiles.

“Although these beautiful animals may look quite hardy, snakes kept as pets are actually completely dependent on their owners they need them to provide them with the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and food, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible to keep them healthy and allow them to carry out their natural behaviour.

“Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases, dehydration, injuries, parasites, and in severe cases or if left untreated, they can eventually die.

"Sadly the RSPCA is experiencing widespread neglect of reptiles and we are finding more and more are coming into our care."

– Phil Hamilton, RSPCA exotics officer