Dorset

Python found at Weymouth's Radipole Lake nature reserve

Royal python found at Radipole Lake in Weymouth Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The python is thought to have been abandoned at the nature reserve since it is far from any properties

A 4ft (1.2m) python has been found dumped at a nature reserve in Dorset.

The snake is thought to have been left at RSPB Radipole Lake in Weymouth and was discovered by a passer-by last week, the RSPCA said.

It is being cared for by the animal charity, which is appealing for help to trace its owner.

The RSPCA said it rescues more snakes over the summer months as the reptiles become more active in warmer weather.

Some snakes will have escaped their enclosures or from their owners after being taken outside to take advantage of the natural sunlight.

'Hundreds rescued'

RSPCA inspector Ken Snook said: "It's difficult to know how this royal python came to be at the nature reserve, although I fear the snake was abandoned as the location is far from any properties from which he could have escaped.

"Sadly, this isn't unusual.

"We are finding that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, which we believe may be why we are rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year."

Releasing an unwanted exotic pet into the wild is illegal and most reptiles kept as pets are unlikely to be able to survive in the wild in Britain. They could also pose a risk to other native wildlife, the RSPCA said.

Mr Snook added: "Snakes are completely dependent on their owners for the correct accommodation, heating, lighting and feed, all of which must replicate their wild habitat as closely as possible to keep them healthy and allow them to express their normal behaviour.

"Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases, dehydration, injuries, parasites, and in severe cases or if left untreated, they can eventually die."

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