A snake found in the back garden of a home on East Acton Lane, London W3, has been rescued by the RSPCA and an appeal has been launched to find its owner.
The Western Hognose – a snake originating from North America – was spotted near to where the family’s children were playing outside in their garden.
RSPCA Inspector Phil Norman said: “The family got quite a surprise when they spotted the snake. It’s not everyday you find an exotic snake in the garden and they were keen for the RSPCA to help!
“After containing it in a large jam-jar, they went online and identified it as a Western Hognose snake. These reptiles are named after their distinctive upturned nose, and this one was around 18-inches long.
“Snakes are excellent escape artists so we suspect this Hognose may have escaped from a vivarium nearby so we are very keen to try and reunite it with the owner. If you believe this is your snake please contact the inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”
Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets. Reptiles, particularly snakes, will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid to escape.
The animal charity urges owners to invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and for the enclosure to be kept secure (and locked if necessary) when unattended. It is possible to microchip snakes and it is recommended that owners ask their exotics vet to do this, so that their pet can be easily reunited if lost and found.
The RSPCA collects more snakes over the summer months. This is probably due to them becoming more active in warmer weather. Also, at this time of year, some owners will take them outside. While it is good for reptiles to be allowed the opportunity for natural sunlight, owners should ensure that their reptile is kept secure when doing so, as they can warm up and can move very quickly on a sunny day.
Phil added: “If this snake isn’t a stray, the alternative is that it may have been abandoned. Sadly, this isn’t unusual. We are finding 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 rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.
“Snakes are completely dependent on their owners for the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and feed, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible to keep them healthy and allow them to express their normal 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.
“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 Western Hognose snake – rescued on 10 May – is being cared for at a specialist boarding facility and if its owner isn’t found, it will be put up for adoption to find a new and loving home.