A dog walker got a shock when he spotted a six-foot snake on the loose on the outskirts of Scarborough.
Police were called when the walker came across the boa constrictor crossing Swang Lane between Burniston and Cloughton.
Scarborough reptile handler Jordan Woodhead was called to assist RSPCA inspector Claire Little to recover the snake.
The 22-year-old handles a range of exotic animals at his home in Pinewood Park and is currently caring for the snake.
He said: “When I got the call I expected to go to a corn snake or a grass snake. I was quite surprised when I got there to see a six-foot boa constrictor surrounded by police.
“It is pretty absurd for a boa to be found in Scarborough. They are commonly kept as pets but unfortunately they get to a large size and some people release them. That’s what I think has happened here.”
Boa constrictors reside in South America and they have no venom, unlike many other snakes.
Sealife Centre zookeeper Jordan was able to put minds at rest at the scene, at around 2pm on Saturday, with him confirming the snake is not dangerous.
He said: “Boas get a really bad reputation because of their name. They do constrict their prey but that would probably be a large rat or a squirrel. A human wouldn’t be in danger from a boa constrictor.”
The snake was in a good condition which makes Jordan feel that it had just recently left, though he doubts it would have survived for long in its new surroundings.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “Although boa constrictors are large animals and may look hardy, snakes are actually completely dependent on their owners to provide them with the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and food, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible.
“Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases such as metabolic bone disease, dehydration, injuries, infections such as parasites, and in severe cases or if left untreated, they can eventually die.”
The boa constrictor is now in the care of Jordan where he has been keeping close tabs on his slippery guest with the hope of rehoming it to a new owner.
He said: “I am boarding it and keep it for another week or so to make sure it is healthy and eating well. I have been keeping it warm and giving it lots of water, checking for parasites and just keeping a close eye on it.
“I will give it some food like a medium sized rat soon.”
Jordan has been keeping snakes for around seven years and has cared for up to 150 snakes in that time with the majority coming within a 60 mile radius.
He said: “We get surprisingly more than you think. More down to the fact we don’t want to panic the public saying there is a snake on the loose.”
The RSPCA is appealing to the public to research the requirements of caring for a reptile before purchasing so they can provide care throughout its life.
The spokesman added: “Sadly we are finding more reptiles are coming in to our care and the RSPCA is experiencing widespread neglect of exotic animals. Dumping any non-native animal not only fails to meet those needs but is illegal under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.
We are unsure if the snake was dumped there or is an escaped pet from a home nearby. We would urge anyone with information about this boa to contact us on 0300 123 8018.”