Shropshire Star

Third snake in three weeks found in Shropshire countryside, renewing dumping concerns

A third snake has been found in the Shropshire countryside in a little over three weeks, prompting fears that exotic pets have been dumped in the county.

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The corn snake handed in at Abbie's Pets & Exotics. Photo: Abbie's Pets & Exotics

The brown corn snake was handed in to Abbie's Pets & Exotics in Shrewsbury on Monday after being found at Haughmond Hill, 11 miles from where two boa constrictors were discovered last month.

Although the animal is in good health, its discovery and arrival at the pet shop in Ditherington Road has again led to fears that snakes are being dumped.

"It does sound like it was dumped", said Sarah Smout, who works at the family-run shop.

Sarah said it's unusual for so many snakes to turn up in such a short amount of time - she could only recall one instance in three years where staff were asked to rescue one - and said people normally phone up to ask about rehoming their animals.

Other rescue centres are said to be overrun at the moment, but Sarah added: "Worst case, put them in a box and leave them outside our doors. Then, they haven't got to fend for themselves."

Pet snakes need to be kept warm and are often not used to hunting for their own food, so could struggle catching live food if it fights back and cause an injury which could potentially become infected.

Last month Abbie's Pets & Exotics took in two boa constrictors within the space of five days. One had to be given to Telford-based Jelly Exotics due to a lack of room at the pet shop, however the corn snake - which so far hasn't been identified as male or female - is small enough for Abbie's to care for.

An albino boa constrictor was found in Baschurch on Saturday, August 20

"It's no trouble here until we plan what to do with it," added Sarah. "One scale is black a bit but apart from that it's good. It's not overweight or underweight, it looks like it's OK.

"It's a more manageable snake so we have a vivarium for it."

The second boa constrictor found near Baschurch five days after the first snake was found. Photo: Andy Bucknall

The RSPCA said it can be difficult to determine whether a snake has been been abandoned or is an escapee.

Earlier this summer it advised owners to be extra-vigilant of snakes slithering away due to the hot weather.

In July a man in Stoke "jumped and screamed" when he opened his wheelie bin lid to find stray 3.5ft-long corn snake staring back at him.

Last year the animal charity received 1,219 reports about pet snakes in need of help, with an average of six a day and 180 calls per month during June, July and August 2021.

RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button described them as "excellent escape artists" which will "take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid to make a break for it", especially during the hot weather then they become more active.

Evie said more snakes escape in summer as some owners take them outside during the warm sunlight. The RSPCA has urged owners to keep their pets secure when doing so to avoid them slipping away.

“Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets," she said.

“But 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."

Meanwhile the albino boa constrictor found last month continues to recover, and is receiving regular injections.

The white snake lost its sight in one eye and was said to be underweight when it arrived at Abbie's Pets & Exotics.

"She was a bit more feisty the last time I took her to the vet," said Sarah.