The RSPCA and firefighters were called to rescue a 10ft-long python from a tree in Cambridgeshire on Friday, 27 August.
A motorcyclist was driving down a quiet country lane in Conington when he saw the large reptile slithering across the road in front of him. He initially called the police, who then contacted the RSPCA for help.
RSPCA Inspector Justin Stubbs went to the scene, but when he arrived he saw the snake had climbed up and into a nearby tree for safety.
Justin said: ‘I really could not believe it when I got there and saw this huge snake all the way up in the tree – it was a scene a bit reminiscent of the Jungle Book!
‘When I saw the snake so high up in the branches I knew it was going to be tricky to get him down due to the height the snake had climbed to, difficulty gaining access to him, and the need for more people given the size of the snake. I contacted Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and they kindly came out to help me.’
Together the team removed some branches of the tree until they could have clear access to the branch the snake was on. They then cut the branch the snake was on so it gently fell into a tarpaulin held by Justin and firefighters beneath.
Justin said: ‘We then carefully gathered the snake up into a duvet cover and took him straight to a local specialist for health checks and boarding until the owner can be traced.
‘The snake is about 10ft long and a reticulated python. We think he or she may have been loose for some time as they were cold and a little underweight.’
Justin said: ‘I’ve rescued hundreds of animals from trees over my 25 years with the RSPCA – cats, birds, foxes – and I’ve been called to many snakes, but I wasn’t expecting to see this stunning animal wrapped high up around tree branches in the English countryside!’
Anyone with information about where the snake might have come from is urged to contact the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.
Justin added: ‘Unfortunately, this sort of thing isn’t unusual and we receive thousands of calls a year relating to reptiles, like snakes and lizards, who have either escaped or many of which have been abandoned by their owners.’
Snakes aren’t able to produce their own body heat so they rely on their environment to maintain their body temperature. If snakes become too cold they may be unable to feed or move normally, and their immune system will not work properly to fight disease, meaning the animal can become very ill.
Justin added: ‘In the summer time we have more of these animals coming in to our care as the warmer temperatures give them more energy and they escape from their vivariums or from back gardens when owners have left them out to enjoy the outside and they have slithered off!
‘However, sadly snakes often also end up in our care as some owners don’t realise the commitment that is involved in meeting the needs of these animals and keeping them healthy. This is why we’re always saying that people should do their research before taking on a pet.’
The RSPCA urges prospective owners of reptiles to 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. For more information about the care of reptiles please visit www.rspca.org.uk/exotics