A PENSIONER had the “fright of his life” when he discovered a five foot exotic snake in his back garden.

Peter Rixham, 79, was hanging out his washing when he noticed a golden boa snake moving across his back lawn.

Peter, of Woodland Street, Shotton, said: “I thought – ‘that’s a big worm!’

“I knew it wasn’t an adder or a grass snake because it was so long and it was a funny golden colour.”

Keen photographer Peter seized the opportunity to take a picture and snapped the exotic reptile, before it moved across his back garden and hid behind a fuchsia bush.

The retired Shotton steelworks production manager called on his 29-year-old grandson to guard the snake while he called for back up from experts at RSPCA.

“When the RSPCA girl arrived she was chuffed to bits as she had been on a snake catching training course just the week before.”

Using specialist equipment the RSPCA officer took just 20 minutes to catch the snake and put it in a bag to be transferred to the RSPCA headquarters at St Asaph.

Peter, who also worked as a manager at Chester Town Hall for 13 years, said: “She had various bits of equipment and a snake book with her. But there was nothing in the book that looked anything like this. She said it must be a boa due to its features and she was determined to find out what it was in the end.”

Peter concluded the serpent had been a pet which had escaped – but despite efforts to appeal to its owners locally, Peter said he is no clearer as to whether they have been located.

RSPCA officer Kate Morrison has offered advice on what to do if people spot a snake.

She said: “Do not touch snakes! Although most British snakes are harmless (except the adder) you can never be sure where a snake has come from. It could be an exotic pet snake that has escaped, in which case it may be poisonous.

“Most native snakes will normally move away from humans and human activity. If a snake doesn’t move away or is injured, or you suspect it is an exotic variety, then please contact our 24-hour cruelty and advice line 0300 1234 999 to report it and ask for advice.”