By Martin Lea @DorsetEchoMart

A 4ft-long python has been found at a Weymouth nature reserve.

The RSPCA is appealing for information after the snake, a royal python, was discovered at the RSPB Radipole Lake reserve.

A member of the public found the snake and raised the alarm.

It is feared the snake was abandoned by its owner.

The royal python, also known as a ball python, are said to be popular pets as they are quite timid and can become quite docile with careful handling. Such snakes are non-venomous.

RSPCA Inspector Ken Snook, who is investigating for the animal welfare charity, said: “If anyone thinks they may know who this snake belongs to then we would ask them to get in touch with us by calling our inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

“It’s difficult to know how this royal python came to be at the nature reserve, although I fear the snake was abandoned as the location is far from any properties from which he could have escaped.

“Sadly, this isn’t unusual. We are finding 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 rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.

“Snakes are completely dependent on their owners for the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and feed, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible to keep them healthy and allow them to express their normal behaviour.

“Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases, dehydration, injuries, parasites, and in severe cases or if left untreated, they can eventually die.”

The snake was found at the RSPB Radipole Lake on Wednesday, August 7.

The charity advises anyone who finds a snake they believe is non-native to keep a safe distance, monitor the snake and call the RSPCA helpline on 0300 1234 999.

The RSPCA says exotic pets such as snakes often end up in its care after people realise they're not easy to care for, or the novelty wears off. Others are rescued after they have been abandoned, escaped or been released on purpose, which then could be a risk to our native wildlife. Abandoning a reptile or releasing unwanted exotic pets into the wild is cruel and illegal, as most reptiles kept as pets are unlikely to be able to survive in the wild in Britain.

As many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets, the RSPCA would always recommend owners invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and that the enclosure is kept secure (and locked if necessary) when unattended. Reptiles, particularly snakes, can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid.

The RSPCA collects more snakes over the summer months. It is possible that some of these are escapees becoming more active in warmer weather. It is also possible that this could be due to snakes having more opportunity to escape, if owners take them outside to take advantage of the natural sunlight.

It is possible to microchip snakes and the RSPCA recommends that owners ask their exotics vet to do this, so that snakes can be easily reunited if lost and found.

The needs of reptiles can be challenging to meet because they 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 environment.

The RSPCA urges prospective owners of reptiles such as snakes to thoroughly research the needs of the particular species and what is required in the care of the animal, using expert sources. People should only consider keeping a snake if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs.

For more information on what to consider before adopting a snake, visit the RSPCA’s website.

Published originally in the

Dorset Echo