McDonald’s workers got a bit of a fright when an extremely unexpected customer turned up outside their branch last night.
The massive reptile was spotted in Bognor Regis by a passer-by who believed it was a native adder – a fairly common snake in the UK.
They handed it over to staff who kept it in a container and called the RSPCA in West Sussex.
When inspector Hannah Nixon arrived on the scene in Oldlands Way, she was confronted with ‘a full 5ft of boa constrictor – an exotic, non-native snake’.
‘Not what I was expecting at all,’ she said. ‘The poor animal did look like he had been in the wars a bit, with a few scratches and cuts.
‘So, I have taken the boa to our Stubbington Ark animal centre in Fareham, Hampshire, to get him checked out.
‘Snakes become particularly active in hot weather, so we suspect this may be an escaped pet.’
Last year, the RSPCA received 1,219 reports about pet snakes in need of help, with around 180 calls every month.
This is nearly six a day during the hottest months.
As the UK heats up, the charity is advising owners to be particularly careful and to double-check enclosures are secure.
Ms Nixon added: ‘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.
‘This is not surprising, as snakes become more active during hot weather.
‘So we would urge all pet snake owners to be extra vigilant at this time of year, invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and make sure that enclosure is kept secure – and locked if necessary – when unattended.’
Inspectors have also been getting an increased number of calls to deal with abandoned snakes.
According to a recent survey, the cost-of-living crisis is a major factor in people discarding their pets.
Ms Nixon added: ‘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.’
The RSPCA are hoping to reunite the boa with its owners, so they urge anyone with information to contact them on 0300 123 0818.
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