A corn snake thought to have survived the winter months living in a back garden in Buxton is now being cared for by the RSPCA.
The snake was first spotted by residents of Derwent Road last summer, who noticed the bright orange reptile under a bag of rubbish, but the snake soon slithered away.
After neighbours didn’t spot him again for several months, they assumed he had been captured or sadly died, so were surprised when he appeared once again in another residents’ back garden last week.
Sadly this time, he did not look well and appeared to have an injured tail, so the homeowners contacted the RSPCA.
Animal collection officer (ACO) Emma Dwan said: "When I arrived I could see straight away that this was a corn snake, a species commonly kept as a pet, so it’s likely he was an escaped or possibly abandoned pet who had taken up residence in the peace of the back garden.
“During the summer months, escaped reptiles have more chance of survival should they find themselves outside of the safety of their heated vivariums, but once the weather turns colder, it’s a huge risk to their welfare, and many would not survive.
"Corn snakes are extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid, so it is important that owners make sure that vivariums are kept secure to prevent accidental escape.
“It’s really surprising that if this is the same snake spotted last summer, that he has survived, but sadly, he was lethargic and has a damaged tail, which looks like an old injury.”
She added: “I took him straight to a specialist reptile keeper at one of our branches who is giving the snake lots of TLC, and if nobody claims him during the next two weeks, we can find him a new home when he is back to full health.”
The RSPCA, which has a team of specially trained exotics officers, rescued over 4,000 exotic animals in 2018, including more than 500 snakes. The charity believes the reason behind some of the suffering of these exotics pets is that owners do not research their needs using expert sources and don’t understand the type and amount of care that they need, resulting in them escaping, being abandoned or neglected.
The RSPCA recommends that prospective owners of reptiles thoroughly research the needs of the particular species and what is required in the care of the animal, using expert sources, and only consider keeping one if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs.
Anyone with any information about who owns the snake can contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, as well as anyone who finds any injured wild animal or an animal in distress and need of help.