Snake owners are being asked by the RSPCA to be extra-vigilant as the charity braces for a rise in escapee snakes due to the heatwave.
The warning comes after a 3.5ft long corn snake was found loose in a bin in Stoke-on-Trent last week, and the RSPCA fears it might not be the last Houdini to make a break for freedom.
Last year, the RSPCA received 1,219 reports about pet snakes in need of help, with the number of calls reaching a height of around 180 per month in the summer as the hot weather makes them more active.
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And there was an average of six calls a day during the hottest months of June, July and August.
In Hertfordshire, the RSPCA was called out to 20 incidents involving snakes last year.
RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button said: “Snakes are excellent escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid to make a break for it. Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets.”
Evie added: “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.”
Another reason why more snakes escape in the summer is that some owners take them outside to take advantage of the natural sunlight.
While sunlight is good for reptiles, the RSPCA asks owners to ensure that their pet is kept secure when doing so, as they can warm up and move around quickly on a hot day.
If anyone finds a snake they believe is non-native the RSPCA’s advice is to keep a safe distance, monitor the snake and call the charity’s helpline on 0300 1234 999.