RSPCA rescues 'stray' boa constrictor found outside McDonald's in Bognor Regis

Credit: RSPCA

A West Sussex resident got a bit of a shock after discovering a 5ft boa constrictor outside a McDonald's restaurant.

The stray snake was spotted outside the fast-food chain on Oldlands Way, in Bognor Regis - the resident thinking it was a native adder which had been injured in a traffic accident.

They passed the poor animal over to the McDonald’s staff who contained him in a box and then reported the incident to the RSPCA.

Arriving at the site, RSPCA Inspector Hannah Nixon said: “Based on the report that was phoned in, I was expecting an adder - which is a fairly common native British snake.  

“But when I peeked in the box, I was confronted with a full 5ft of boa constrictor - an exotic, non-native snake and not what I was expecting at all!

"The poor animal did look like he had been in the wars a bit, with a few scratches and cuts, so I have taken the boa to our Stubbington Ark animal centre in Fareham, Hampshire, to get him checked out.

“Snakes become particularly active in hot weather, so we suspect this may be an escaped pet.

"We are hoping to reunite him with his owners, so would urge anyone with information to contact us on 0300 123 0818.”

Last year, the RSPCA received 1,219 reports about pet snakes in need of help, with numbers of calls reaching a height of around 180 per month - that’s nearly six per day on average - during the hottest months of June, July and August.

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

“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 may be why we are called out to deal with 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. Others are rescued after they have been abandoned or been released on purpose, which then could pose a risk to our native wildlife.

“Sadly, our recently released Animal Kindness Index identified that the cost of living crisis is a huge threat to pet welfare in the UK and we would urge anyone who is struggling to cope with their pets to contact their local vet or rescue centre and ask for help.

“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 urges prospective owners of reptiles such as snakes to thoroughly research the needs of the particular species and what is required in the care of the animal, using expert sources. People should only consider keeping a snake if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs.”

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