Staff at an RSPCA animal centre got a shock when they opened a polystyrene box left outside their front gate – and found a six-foot boa constrictor inside.
It is thought the exotic pet was abandoned by an owner no longer able to care for her after she got too big and/or difficult to look after. It was the third similar case in a week at South Godstone Animal Centre in Surrey after a corn snake and three geckos were found dumped and brought in.
The large box was found by a member of the maintenance team last Tuesday (July 24) at the end of the drive.
Supervisor Clare Hyre said: “We had no idea at all what was inside. Then as we started to open the box up this long tail shot out.
“I got quite a fright. In the 12 years I have worked here I have never seen anything like it.
“It was lucky that we found this snake when we did – the box could easily have been missed and she was lucky to be alive. There were no air holes in the box or the temperature controls needed to keep a snake like this healthy.”
The boa is a female which can grown up to ten foot in length and live for up to 20 to 30 years.
She was taken to Patcham Reptile Centre in Brighton where she was found that she was in good health, and she has already been found a new home with a specialist reptile keeper.
Keith Wells, manager at Patcham, said: “This boa was in good condition and had clearly been well looked after, but it seems the owner just was not willing or able to care for her anymore.
“People need to think carefully before taking on a pet like this. You can come across a boa in a pet shop and it’s a tiny little snake, just 12 inches long.
“But they get bigger and bigger until the owner suddenly finds they have a massive animal on their hands which they do not have space for. Lots of people tell me they suddenly get a bit scared of the snake when they grow as well.”
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Notes to editors
— Images and interviews available on request.
— The RSPCA have launched a campaign to reduce the numbers of exotic animals kept as pets and increase their humane care. It aims to stop the import of wild-caught animals supplying the pet trade; increasing knowledge of how to care for these animals properly and raise awareness of responsible ownership.
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