London streets often home many types of wildlife, from foxes sniffing around rubbish bins, to hedgehogs on the roadside.
But you would never expect to see a two-and-a-half-foot python.
Over the past week south Croydon residents have been confronted with not one but two pythons roaming their streets and gardens.
Both pythons have now been taken into the care of Liz Kane, from Wallington, who runs Forget Me Not Wildlife Centre and keeps snakes herself.
The first of two pythons was found by a couple in their back garden on St Peter’s Road, South Croydon, on Thursday September 27.
The couple contacted a rescue centre that then put them into contact with Kane; they were soon reassured that pythons are usually placid creatures.
Kane stepped in to ensure the python was safe and well looked after, as there is not a reptile rescue centre in Croydon.
Kane told EastLondonLines: “The couple told me it was gigantic so I expected something 7-foot-long, but when I arrived they had kept it under a bucket so I knew it couldn’t be too big. It’s about two and a half foot long.
“The snake is quite young but perfectly healthy. I’ve looked on the map and have concluded it may have arrived in their garden from St Peter’s Road, Aberdeen Road, Heathfield Road or South End.”
The second python was found at 1.30am on a nearby street, less than 48 hours after the first snake discovery, again by a distressed resident unsure of what it was.
Kane was contacted immediately, and arrived to collect the snake later that morning.
She said: “By the time I arrived to rescue the second python it was stone cold on the concrete pavement, I was worried about it at first but it’s doing fine now. One of the snakes is very shy and the other is more adventurous.
“I’m presuming that these snakes are no longer wanted by their owner so have been abandoned. I know from having snakes myself that they can’t just escape like that if they are kept in the right terrarium.
“It has been a while since I have rescued these snakes and no one has yet come forward as their owner, even though 7,000 people have seen the Facebook posts about them.
“Even if someone comes forward to say that they don’t want them I won’t mind, I just want to know where they have come from.
“I will keep them for the time being as they are in a safe place with me, I might look at taking them to a different rescue centre. If more snakes are found then I will definitely be going shopping for more equipment.”
Royal pythons are not poisonous so pose no threat other than biting, in the same way any other animal can.
Ginny Reid, an RSPCA officer, has urged members of the public not to approach any snake that is loose if found, and said: “If there is a concern that a snake is injured or non-native to Britain to call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”
The RSPCA issues advice on keeping snakes as domestic pets. A spokesperson said: “We are finding that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment reptiles are when they take them on, which we believe may be why we are rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.
“Impulse buying can result in poor animal welfare and animal suffering. Exotic pets often end up in our care after people realise they’re not easy to care for (or once the novelty wears off).
“We would urge prospective owners to thoroughly research the needs of the particular species and what is required in the care of the animal, using expert sources, and only consider keeping one if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs.”
If you have any information about who the owners of these snakes might be please do not hesitate to contact Kane via the Forget Me Not Wildlife Centre Facebook page or via her mobile on 07852 755 218.
For now at least, the Croydon Snakegate mystery remains unsolved.