Video: Stowaway snake finally caught after a month in RSPCA shop in Fakenham
08:36 03 September 2013
Archant © 2013
A lost pet snake which forced the closure of the RSPCA charity shop in Fakenham has finally been found.
The idea of a snake secretly slithering around your workplace is not everyone’s idea of job satisfaction.
So when this foot-long trespasser was spotted in a charity shop it was fortunate the outlet was run by the caring animal-lovers of the RSPCA.
Now, after a month living among the donated clothes and second-hand books, the lost pet has finally been found – and its relieved captors are trying to find it a new home.
The RSPCA Charity Shop on Norwich Road in Fakenham was closed for two weeks after police left a note on the door on July 25, saying a snake had been seen moving around in the front window display overnight.
It prompted an exhaustive search, involving RSPCA inspectors and the owner of the neighbouring pet store Picky Pets, while advice was sought from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, zoos and reptile centres.
The staff were reluctant to open up the shop as they felt uncomfortable with an unidentified snake on the loose.
But after some calming advice, they were persuaded to return to business as usual on August 8 when no trace of the elusive serpent could be found.
Finally a customer spotted the distinctive red, black and yellow banded snake curled around the wheels of a display cabinet, containing antique vases, old cameras and decorated plates. It was collected by the pet shop owner and is awaiting rehabilitation and re-homing.
Sophie Howlett, the RSPCA’s Norwich and Mid Norfolk branch executive, said: “We think either someone had put it through the letterbox, perhaps wanting us to re-home it, or maybe it has got comfortable in a box at someone’s home and has got muddled up with some clothes to come down to the shop.
“We have had no reports that someone has lost a snake – which is a shame, because he is so beautiful.
“If someone wants to come forward and claim it that’s fine, although it would be hard for them to prove it belongs to them. Even if somebody knows where he came from and could give us further information so that we knew his history it would help. Should no-one come forward for him by the end of the week then we will look to get him rehabilitated and re-homed.
“We will get a specialist to check him over, but at first glance he seems absolutely fine. He just needs a couple of meals.”
During the search, several humane traps were set with bait, and flour was sprinkled on the floor to detect a trail. Miss Howlett even took her two dogs into the shop, which also failed to sniff out the intruder. Eventually, she concluded that the snake was no longer there.
“We searched everywhere, every pocket and every handbag,” she said. “Everything was removed and put back. I am just glad we found him. It has cost us in takings because the shop has been closed, and this poor animal has been on its own and unable to feed itself.
“But we had to make sure he was safe. Unfortunately it has cost us in takings because the shop has been closed, but we had to make sure he was safe. We temporarily closed the shop for the safety of the snake and because of the concerns of our staff and volunteers.
“We heard reports that someone was looking to re-home a four-and-a-half foot corn snake the week before. They are not venomous, but it put the staff on edge to think that it might be something bigger.”
Shop manager Anita Borley was on duty when the snake was discovered. She said: “We’re just glad we found it, for the animals sake. “Well, it is the RSPCA – animals are our thing. Anyone that loves snakes who might like to donate towards our loss of earnings or towards its care can always come in and see us.”
The RSPCA’s charity shop in Fakenham opened in February. Miss Howlett said: “If people were staying away because of talk in the town of a snake on the loose, then I would like to reassure them it has been caught and it is safe to come here and look through all the fantastic items we have here.”