Unprepared pet owners are behind an increasing number of calls about reptiles, the RSPCA has revealed as the search continues for a missing snake.
Members of the public are being asked to report any sightings of a snake which was reported as on the loose after it is thought to have been dumped by a Metro station.
Now the RSPCA has said the charity has seen an increase in the number of calls about snakes and other reptiles.
The RSPCA exotics senior scientific officer Nicola White said: “Sadly the RSPCA has seen an increase in calls about reptiles and we are finding that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on.
“This may be why we are rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.”
Meanwhile the search continues for the missing snake, believed to be king corn snake, which was spotted on a fence in Station Road, East Boldon, on Monday afternoon, but disappeared before experts could be reached.
A vivarium tank was found nearby and it is thought the animal had been dumped. Experts say the snake will be harmless, but it could be in search of somewhere warm to stay.
A 55-year-old man from Jarrow’s Scotch Estate, found the reptile while walking his dog after another man spotted it near Brockley Whins Metro station.
He said: “It was yellow and black and I would say between 4ft and 5ft, bigger than my arm. It was just on top of the fence near where people collect cloudberries.
“There’s always flytipping around there and I’d seen a tank on the side. It seems like somebody has dumped the tank with the snake in it.”
A council spokesperson said: “We would encourage anyone who spots the snake to call the RSPCA, giving a good description and providing as much information as possible about its location.”
Andrew Nickerson, 25, from South Shields, who is managing director Reptile Hotel in Birtley, which had a base in Marsden, until 2016, believes its a corn snake.
He said: “It looks like a big fat corn snake, which will only be interested in mice.
“People don’t need to be frightened, but it does need to get home. If it has been well looked after, it’ll probably be quite tame.”
Northumbria Police confirmed it took a report of the sighting at 4.30pm on Monday.
Anyone who spots it should call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.