MYSTERY surrounds how a dead 9ft boa constrictor came to be on a public footpath in a popular country park.
The shocking discovery was made by walkers on the Green Lane footpath in Erddig, Wrexham, a number of whom took to social media sites to post photographs of the reptile, which was found to have died, possibly as a result of cold weather.
Staff on the Erddig estate and RSPCA officers say they have no idea how it came to be on the footpath.
Zoologist Chris Wright, 31, from Bradley who recovered the dead snake and later buried it, has speculated that the boa either escaped from someone’s home or was cruelly dumped.
Following the discovery the RSPCA is urging people to be careful before taking on such ‘unusual’ pets.
A spokesman said: “Obviously we have no idea where this snake came from. It could have escaped from its home or been abandoned.
“In general people need to think carefully before taking on a pet like this. You can come across a boa in a pet shop and it’s a tiny little snake, just 12 inches long.
“But they get bigger and bigger until the owner suddenly finds they have a massive animal on their hands which they do not have space for. In fact boas can grow to over 10 foot in length and live for up to 20 to 30 years.
“People may choose ‘unusual’ pets without realising that they can be difficult to look after, live for a long time and need specialist care. High-quality care information can also be hard to find, which means animals suffer welfare problems and even die, because their owners can’t give them proper care.
“Other animals are abandoned or end up in our care when they become too difficult to look after.
“Therefore it is one of the RSPCA’s pledges to reduce the number of exotic animals kept as pets and increase their humane care.”
Lorraine Elliott, events and marketing manager at Erddig, said none of the estate’s rangers had ever encountered the snake.
“The snakes we’re used to seeing here are grass snakes so we’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said.
“It’s a sad story which we’re looking into and we would always advise people to contact the RSPCA if they have any concerns.”
The boa constrictor is a large, heavy-bodied, non-poisonous species of snake. It is a member of the family Boidae found in North, Central, and South America, as well as some islands in the Caribbean.
Its prey includes a wide variety of small to medium-sized mammals and birds.
North Wales Police spokesman Michael McGivern said the discovery was reported to the force at 4.20pm on Saturday.
“We were contacted by a member of the public in Sontley who reported coming across a snake on the Green Lane footpath,” he said.
“The matter was referred to the RSPCA.”