Snakes alive! Birkenhead woman finds corn snake slithering across drainpipe

A snake which shocked a Wirral woman when it slithered across a drainpipe at her home is now in safe hands thanks to the help of the RSPCA.

The corn snake was on the loose at a property in Bidston Avenue in Birkenhead on Saturday, 2 July, prompting a call to Merseyside Police before RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes offered the roaming reptile a bed for the night.

Anthony maintains a vivarium at his home and is well kitted out to meet the needs of exotics, but he fears that rising living costs could persuade owners to consider abandoning their pets.

The vivid orange-coloured snake – who is now in the care of Cheshire Reptile Rescue, near Knutsford, from where he will be rehomed – may have been discarded or he may have escaped his enclosure.

“I took him to the specialist reptile rescue and I’ve noticed we are getting more and more of these cases, so you do wonder about the increase in energy bills and whether people are switching off their vivariums,” said Anthony.

“I was speaking to the specialist keeper about it when I took the snake over to him and he stressed they’re not that expensive to run, so it’s best if owners don’t make rash decisions.”

Corn snakes are among the North American species of rat snakes that kill their prey by constriction. But they are not venomous or dangerous to humans, although the RSPCA advises anyone finding a snake they believe is non-native, like this corn one, to keep a safe distance and call the charity’s helpline on 0300 1234 999 or a local reptile charity.

“The lady who found it didn’t know whether it was venomous so she rang the police, who contacted me. When I went to pick him up he was actually quite aggressive,” added Anthony. “He was quite a size and that must have been a shock for the woman who was pottering around in her garden when she noticed something under the drainpipe.

“The exotics expert spotted a rib fracture and it does look like this snake has been run over by a car or motorbike.

“But there were no signs of neglect and he could have escaped his enclosure, so the owner is welcome to get in touch with us.

“Fortunately, I’ve got a vivarium set up at my home, so he stayed with me for the night, although I was advised not to feed him. He was quite a nice snake really and I think the aggression he displayed was just a bit of fear.”

The RSPCA is concerned about exotic pets whose owners could be affected by the impact of higher electricity bills.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how much of a commitment keeping exotics are when they take them on. RSPCA officers are often called out to deal with hundreds of animals every year which have sadly been abandoned when their owners can no longer meet their needs.

Owners may not understand the financial challenges involved. For example, the majority of exotics, including reptiles, need a carefully-controlled environment requiring access to specialised equipment for lighting and 24-hour heating.

In addition, many of these animals can live for decades, making this a long-term responsibility for an exotic pet keeper.

For more information about keeping exotic pets, visit the RSPCA’s website

The RSPCA does collect more snakes over the summer months and some are thought to be escaped pets. Corn snakes can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of fleeing through a gap or a loose-fitting lid.

So owners should invest in an enclosure suitable for the species and ensure that it is secure when left unattended.

If anyone has any information regarding the Wirral corn snake we would ask them to contact the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.

Images: RSPCA

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