Runaway rat-killing snake gives a Wirral woman a shock slithering about her home

“He was quite a size and that must have been a shock for the woman.”

A Wirral woman was given a nasty shock when a orange-coloured snake slithered across a drainpipe at her home, but the RSPCA came to the rescue.

The North American rat-killing corn snake was on the loose at a property in Bidston Avenue in Birkenhead.

The alarmed home owner caller Merseyside Police, who in turn contacted the RSPCA.

Luckily, RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes, who has a vivarium at his home and is well kitted out to meet the needs of exotic animals, came to the rescue and offered the roaming reptile a bed for the night.

Joynes said: “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.”

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The corn snake was on the loose at a property in Bidston Avenue in Birkenhead on Saturday, July 2 (Photo from RSPCA)

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.

It is unknown whether the snake was discarded or whether he had escaped his enclosure.

However, the slithering reptile is now in the care of Cheshire Reptile Rescue, near Knutsford, from where he will be rehomed - if an owner doesn’t get in touch.

Joynes added: “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.”

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

The RSPCA advises anyone finding a snake that they believe is non-native to keep a safe distance and call the charity’s helpline on 0300 1234 999 or a local reptile charity.

Joynes said: “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.

“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 RSPCA is concerned about exotic pets whose owners could be affected by the impact of higher electricity bills and the cost of living crisis.

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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.

However, this might not be the case all the time as corn snakes can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of fleeing through a gap or a loose-fitting lid.

Joynes added: “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.

“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.”

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.

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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.