'Surprise' as 3.5ft-long snake found sunbathing in gravel

A 3.5ft ball python was found in Needham Market

A 3.5ft ball python was found in Needham Market - Credit: Suffolk Exotic Vets

Neighbours got a "surprise" when they discovered a 3.5ft-long python sunbathing in gravel beside homes in a street.

Julie Grant returned home to Needham Market from seeing her father when she noticed her cat had been spooked by something unexpected.

The royal python was found sunbathing in gravel in Needham Market

The royal python was found sunbathing in gravel in Needham Market - Credit: Julie Grant

To her great surprise, the 46-year-old then noticed the 110cm royal python curled up in the gravel - where it appeared to be trying to catch the sun in a bid to keep warm.

Residents picked up the snake, which is not venomous, and put it in a pillow case before taking it to Cedarwood Vets, in Stowmarket.

It has since been transferred to Suffolk Exotic Vets, where it is being kept in a vivarium so it can enjoy the higher temperatures it is used to from its natural African climate.

The royal python is currently being cared for at Suffolk Exotic Vets

The royal python is currently being cared for at Suffolk Exotic Vets - Credit: Suffolk Exotic Vets


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It is believed the snake, which is not microchipped, might be a pet which escaped from someone's home about two or three days before it was found off Stowmarket Road on Friday afternoon.

Dr Catherine Thomas, from Suffolk Exotic Vets, said: "Hopefully, someone somewhere who loves him will be looking for him.

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"It looks like he is in a quite reasonable condition."

The python measures at 110cm long

The python measures at 110cm long - Credit: Suffolk Exotic Vets

Royal pythons, also known as ball pythons for the way they curl up, "don't tend to be aggressive, fighting snakes", Dr Thomas said.

They are part of the constrictor group of snakes, which kill prey such as small mice by suffocating them.

Although they can bite when stressed, they are usually calm and docile if handled correctly.

The royal python is being kept in a vivarium

The royal python is being kept in a vivarium - Credit: Suffolk Exotic Vets

Carmen Tudorache, clinical director at Cedarwood Vets, said: "It's rare at this practice to see a snake, as it doesn't happen very often round here.

"It has probably managed to escape somehow. People who have snakes are usually very careful, but royal pythons are masters of escaping - if they find the smallest crack, they're through it.

Although she likes snakes and said royal pythons are a calmer type of snake, she warned: "If you're not sure about the species, don't touch it - just leave it be and take a picture to send to your vets."

Anyone who believes they might own the snake should email reception@exoticvetsuffolk.co.uk

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