More than a dozen snakes were found dumped inside a pair of children’s pillowcases around the back of a fire station.
Three large royal pythons and 10 smaller ones were abandoned by the Farringdon Community Fire Station in Sunderland shortly before 6.30pm Thursday evening.
A member of the public called the RSPCA after spotting the pile of discarded bed linen appeared to be wriggling.
Station manager Kev Burns said: ‘We were all very relieved when the RSPCA turned up to collect the snakes, who took them into their care. It is probably one of the strangest incidents we’ve ever had to deal with.’
Animal collection officer David Dawson came to the reptiles’ rescue.
He said: ‘It must have been a very strange discovery for the people who found them. They were abandoned next to a bin around the back of the fire station and left in extremely cold conditions.
‘Reptiles like snakes are completely dependent on their owners who need to provide them with the correct environment, including heating and lighting, so abandoning them like this leaves them very vulnerable.’
He added: ‘It’s quite unusual for someone to have this many pythons and to abandon them in what appears to be a child’s pillowcase.’
One of the snakes has since died. The others are being cared for at a vets in Darlington before being transferred to a specialist reptile facility.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: ‘Snakes aren’t able to produce their own body heat so they rely on their environment to maintain their body temperature.
‘As royal pythons originate from West Africa and are not native to this country they would require a heated environment with the correct temperature range for the species in order to stay healthy and carry out normal behaviour.
‘If snakes become too cold they may not 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.
‘Reptiles often end up in RSPCA care after people realise they’re not easy to look after, or once the novelty wears off.
‘Unfortunately many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, as their needs are just the same as they would be in the wild and are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions that can be difficult to replicate in a home.
‘Many people do not realise what they are taking on when they buy these pets so we are urging prospective buyers to do their research before getting one.
‘Potential owners of reptiles must 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.’
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