Homeowners in Bognor were surprised to discover a snake with ‘striking’ black and white markings lying in their garden last week.
The snake was spotted on a patch of bare earth in the garden in Nyewood Lane, not far from the promenade, on Sunday, May 26.
The homeowners called the RSPCA and Claire Thomas, an animal collection officer, came to the rescue.
Experts at a local RSPCA reptile rescue centre later identified the reptile as a kingsnake.
Claire said: “It’s the biggest snake I’ve rescued so far.
“The poor animal appeared quite thin and we suspect it had probably been loose outside for some time.
“Its markings are very striking, so we are hoping that even though it has no microchip for identification, someone will recognise the animal as it would be wonderful to reunite it with its owner.
“If anyone thinks they may have information about this kingsnake, please do contact our Appeals Line on 0300 123 8018.”
She said there was a possibility that the snake had escaped from someone’s home and reminded snake owners to ensure their animals’ accommodation was secure.
“Snakes are not only good escape artists, they, like other exotic pets, have specialist needs and so can be challenging to care for,” she said.
“Anyone thinking of taking on that responsibility needs to thoroughly research what it entails before deciding to commit to getting one.”
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.
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, the RSPCA said.
It is important for owners need to ensure they can give their animal the environment it needs and that they have the facilities, time, financial means and long-term commitment to maintain a good standard of care, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “Sadly, reptiles often end up in the RSPCA’s care after people realise they’re not easy to care for or once 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.
“If anyone finds a snake they believe is non-native the RSPCA’s advice is to keep a safe distance, monitor the snake and call their helpline on 0300 1234 999.”
For more information on kingsnakes and how to care for them, visit the RSPCA’s website here