Snake on a train sparks panic after being discovered in South East

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As if strikes weren’t enough to worry about, now a four-foot-long snake has been discovered on a train after travelling around South East England for “some time” before being rescued.  Passengers with ophidiophobia would have been glad not to have encountered the slithering corn snake on the seats during a commute around London, Kent and Sussex where the reptile is believed to have been travelling. 

The snake caused panic when it was discovered on the floor of the Southern Rail train carriage, causing even hard-bitten cops to dash for cover when it was found crawling along the carriage by staff at the Selhurst Train Depot in Croydon, south London, last week.

The train had been traveling all over the South East for weeks before the slippery customer was found in the cold carriage.

British Transport Police officers were called by rail staff, who managed to corner the cold-blooded animal and got it into a bag.

The snake caused a stir at the depot, with even the police officers reportedly getting spooked and ducking out of the carriage.

Cops called Gareth North from nearby Mitcham Zoo in south London to help with the reptile at around 11pm on December 16.

Mr North, 50, said: “The British Transport Police were on site when I pulled the snake out of the bag. They jumped in their cars and left very quickly.”

He added: “The engineers informed me the police were on the scene on the carriage after the report of the snake. I was told they ran off the train scared when they saw it.

“It’s a four-foot corn snake, its sex is currently unknown. When I arrived to collect the snake it had been caught by Southern Rail Depot engineers.”

The snake was found with superficial injuries from being trapped in a heat grate when it tried to squeeze through to find warmth during the recent cold snap.

These wounds suggested the snake had been riding the train for a few weeks, Mr North said.

He added: “The cut or graze on the top of the snake was in the same area where the snake was stuck in a heating vent so may suggest long term attempt to escape from the area. It was scabbed over on collection so would suggest at least a few weeks of healing.

“There are possibly two reasons its managed to escape on the carriage. Firstly, it escaped from a travel container or bag while being transported by its owner – this is the most likely reason.

“Or it has been dumped on a train hoping it is found before it gets cold. This is highly unlikely as abandoned or dumped reptiles are less than one per cent with the data the National Centre for Reptile Welfare has taken.”

Earlier this year seven snakes were discovered in an abandoned house in Greater Manchester. Six corn snakes and one royal python were found at the site.

According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute corn snakes usually eat mice, rats, birds and bats.

They are usually found in the US. They can be seen in Southern New Jersey, Louisiana, parts of Kentucky and Florida, where they are most common. Luckily they are neither poisonous nor venomous.

Mr North, who has kept reptiles for over 40 years, said: “The corn snake is currently well – it was hungry and dehydrated but doing okay.”

A spokesman for the BTP said: “Officers received a report of a snake on a train at Selhurst Train Depot at 9.26pm on December 16. Once it was identified as a non-venomous corn snake, officers and staff removed it from the train.

“It was placed in a box and kept in a warm office as it waited to be picked up by a member of staff from Mitcham Zoo.”

A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), that operates Southern Rail, said: “A corn snake was found on a train in our depot in South London and staff immediately contacted the authorities.

“The snake was kept safe there until a member of staff from Mitcham Zoo, a rescue and rehoming centre, came to collect it.”

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