Southend toilet snake Reggie the royal python's owner found

The snake is hooked out of the toilet Image copyright Laura Cowell
Image caption Royal pythons can grow to about 150cm (5ft) but Reggie was "a juvenile", his rescuer said

A snake that shocked a family when they discovered it in their toilet might have been on the loose in the area for about two months, it has emerged.

Reggie the royal python appeared when a five-year-old boy opened the lid in his family bathroom in Southend.

Following media coverage of the snake's rescue his owner has now come forward.

Reggie escaped when Tim Yardley moved a few houses away and he had almost given up hope of ever finding him. On social media he apologised to his neighbours.

The harmless snake, measuring about 3ft (91cm) petrified Laura Cowell and her son when it appeared in the family's home on Wednesday.

Image copyright Laura Cowell
Image caption Reggie had been blocking the family's toilet for several days, it transpired

Local reptile specialist Rob Yeldham, owner of Leigh-on-Sea pet shop Scales and Fangs came to the rescue, prising the python from the porcelain.

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His owner recognised Reggie from the media coverage and contacted Mr Yeldham to show him photos of his missing pet.

"Snake markings are like fingerprints and unique, so comparing them to our snake I am 100% certain we've found Reggie's owner," Mr Yeldham said.

Image caption The snake managed to survive for about two months and is in good health

Reggie apparently made his bid for freedom the night his owners moved into their new home.

"During the move one of the air vents on the enclosure got dislodged and... Reggie was able to pull the air vent off his enclosure and escape his tank," Mr Yeldham said.

"We believe from there he made his way into the toilet system.

"He was out for about two months... before he finally made his way up into Laura [Cowell]'s toilet where her son unfortunately came face to face with him."

Image copyright Scales and Fangs
Image caption The snake is being cared for by reptile specialists

As royal pythons are harmless, "there's no-one really to report a missing one to" and putting it on social media can "create panic", Mr Yeldham said.

However, as they are "vulnerable to foxes and cats" Mr Yardley had given up hope of finding him.

On social media Mr Yardley said Reggie's escape was a "total accident".

He thanked the rescuers, and added: "I'm just glad he ended up in safe hands, my full apologies to the family and their little boy who found him under such circumstances".

Reggie is suffering from some scale rot because of the bleach in the toilet system, but once recovered will be returned to his owner "once we check he has a secure vivarium", Mr Yeldham added.

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