The RSPCA is urging members of the public to come forward after 12 Royal Pythons were found dumped in a cardboard box outside a veterinary centre in Plymouth.
RSPCA Animal Collection Officer and Exotics Specialist Peter Ferris was called to rescue the animals in William Prance Road two days before Christmas and then transported them to foster carers in the city where they are now receiving specialist care.
ACO Ferris said: “The snakes are in poor health which I’m sure is due to them having being kept in poor living conditions.
“They have respiratory problems most likely due to a lack of heating and their overall body condition is not good.
“The snakes are all around three and a half foot long and are different colours. It is so sad to see any pets dumped but particularly exotic pets which really need specialist care.
“We would urge people who can’t cope with their exotic pets to please contact the RSPCA or their local vets for help and support.
“To abandon an animal can compromise his or her welfare, especially for snakes, who cannot produce their own body heat.
“We urge anyone with any information about how these snakes came to be abandoned in this callous way to call us on 0300 123 8018”
Exotic pets appear to be increasing in popularity and the number of related incidents dealt with by the RSPCA has risen in recent years.
RSPCA Head of Wildlife Adam Grogan said: “The needs of exotics can be challenging to meet because they are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions in the animal’s natural environment that can be difficult to replicate in a home.
“Unlike cats or dogs these animals have not undergone years of domestication, therefore they are wild animals kept in captivity and their needs are the same as in the wild.
“The RSPCA is experiencing widespread neglect of exotic animals across the country. For many people an exotic animal represents too much of a commitment which is manifested in the growing number of exotics being abandoned and handed to shelters around the country.
“Exotics are commonly found in pet shops and even for sale on the internet, however it is sadly often the case that they are handed over to buyers with very little to no information about how to care for them or the commitment that is involved in keeping them healthy.
“It is for this reason that we are urging potential owners to do plenty of research before taking on an exotic pet on so they know what is involved and how long a commitment owning such a pet is likely to be.”
Caring for a reptile can be challenging and expensive; the animal may grow very large, live for a long time, become aggressive and may require a licence or other paperwork to be legally kept or sold. Their complex needs must be met in captivity by law under the Animal Welfare Act.