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RSPCA says pet snake owners must secure enclosures as heatwave will make the reptiles more prone to escape



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Snake owners are being told to keep their pets securely contained as the hot weather will make their animals active and more likely to escape.

As temperatures in England are expected to exceed 40C in some areas the RSPCA says those with the exotic pets must be extra-vigilant.

The charity says it is bracing itself for a rise in stray snakes because the animals - described as 'excellent escape artists' - will be much more active and awake in the current weather and will therefore take any opportunity they see to make their escape.

The RSPCA is warning owners or pet snakes to ensure their enclosures are secure
The RSPCA is warning owners or pet snakes to ensure their enclosures are secure

Last year, the RSPCA received 1,219 reports about pet snakes in need of help, with numbers of calls reaching a height of around 180 per month - that's nearly six per day on average - during the hottest months of June, July and August.

Owners must, advises the charity, ensure that their enclosures are all securely fastened and that no gaps or loose fitting lids would enable their pets to slither free.

RSPCA scientific officer, Evie Button, said: "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.

"Last year, we took over 1,200 reports about snakes, with the highest number of calls coming in during the summer months. 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 the enclosure is kept secure - and locked if necessary - when unattended."

The RSPCA says the heat and sun will make reptiles more active
The RSPCA says the heat and sun will make reptiles more active

Another reason, says Evie, why snakes often escape during the summer months is that some owners choose to take them outside more to take advantage of the natural sunlight. But there is a word of caution in doing so during the current extreme heat.
She added: "While sunlight is good for reptiles, the RSPCA urges owners to ensure that their pet is kept secure when doing so, as they can warm up and move very quickly on a sunny day.

"Many of the snakes the RSPCA's officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets. Sadly, we also have to deal with a lot of abandoned snakes. 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.

"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 domestic environment."

A snake was discovered in Brooklands Lake, Dartford last month
A snake was discovered in Brooklands Lake, Dartford last month

Snakes kept as pets, says the RSPCA, will be completely dependent on their owners for the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and food, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible to keep them healthy.

Most exotic animals kept as pets are unlikely to be able to survive in the wild in Britain while non-native species could pose a serious threat to our native wildlife. It's illegal to release or to allow to escape, says the RSPCA, any species that are not normally native to the UK.

The python was soaking up the sun in Reculver
The python was soaking up the sun in Reculver

Anyone who finds a snake that isn't thought to be native to the UK should call the charity's helpline on 0300 1234 999 for advice.



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