Wildlife hospitals have warned of escaped jungle snakes on the loose across the UK.
There are fears reptile owners are dumping snakes in the wild because they cannot look after them.
After a woman suffered a bite from an escaped reptile, now a boa constrictor as thick as a man’s thigh has been found by a wildlife hospital.
An eight-foot-long boa constrictor was found and taken to Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital in Newton Tony, near Salisbury, on Thursday.
Earlier this week, soldiers training fifty miles away in Farnborough, Hants, found a 6ft long anaconda.
There are fears for snake welfare, as these species need warm jungle temperatures, and they may freeze to death in the nippy autumn weather.
Staff at the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital found the eight foot boa constrictor dumped near its gates and think it was left there during the early hours of the morning.
Wildlife care supervisor Marilyn Korkis said: “It took two people to lift it. It was huge – the thickness of a thigh”.
She said she would rather find a badger than a terrifying boa constrictor, revealing:
“I had the shock of my life – you don’t expect that sort of thing. To get something that big is a bit out of the ordinary.
“Part of it was not knowing what sort of snake it was and what it was capable of.
“Give me a badger any day over a snake. We’re more used to rescuing native wildlife species and taking in smaller animals like cats and dogs that have been left outside the gates rather than creatures of this size, though in the past we have taken in smaller snakes like corn snakes.
The soldiers captured the yellow-coloured reptile and brought it to an RSPCA centre in Brighton, where it is now being cared for and an appeal has gone out to find the owner.
RSPCA animal welfare officer Peter Yarde said “They spotted it moving around in circles and occasionally raising and lowering its head.”
He warned that although reptiles are difficult to look after, they have the same needs as in the wild, which must be met in captivity by law under the Animal Welfare Act.
Mr Yarde continued: “Exotic pets often end up in our care after people realise they’re not easy to care for or once the novelty wears off.
“Others are rescued after they’ve escaped or have been released on purpose. Some species can be difficult for us to re-home, due to a lack of suitable homes or interest.
“Non-native species may not survive in our countryside and are illegal to release, as they could be an invasive species posing a risk to our native wildlife.
“Vital tips on caring for exotic pets may not be provided by sellers and can be hard to find online.
“Information is available at http://www.rspca.org.uk, to help potential buyers make an informed decision.”