Three snakes abandoned in a box in freezing conditions lucky to have survived

Three snakes abandoned in a box in freezing conditions lucky to have survived

Three snakes who were abandoned in a box in freezing conditions and left in a Derbyshire field have been rescued by the RSPCA and an investigation has now been launched.

The three corn snakes, who were all underweight, were found by a member of the public at an entrance to a field off Haddon Street in North Wingfield on Wednesday, January 31 at 7.30 am.

They'd been abandoned together in a small plastic box, containing just newspaper, which had been taped up and left in freezing temperatures.

RSPCA Inspector Rachel Leafe, who rescued the abandoned pets, is now investigating and is appealing for help in finding the person responsible.

She said: "It was very lucky these harmless corn snakes were found as it was very cold - with frost on the ground - and they need to live in a heated environment to survive.

"They were all underweight and sadly I suspect they were pets that someone decided they no longer wanted to care for so they simply taped them up in a plastic box and callously dumped them like rubbish. 

"I'm grateful to the person who found them and alerted us to the incident. The snakes are now being temporarily boarded with Reptilia, a specialist centre in Ossett, West Yorkshire, where they will be rehabilitated before long-term homes can be found for them.

"If anyone knows who's responsible for leaving these snakes in such a dire situation then they can call the RSPCA appeals line on 0300 123 8018."

The RSPCA has revealed that incidents of animals being abandoned are at a three-year high. In 2023, the RSPCA’s emergency line received 20,999 reports. This was higher than in 2022 (19,645), 2021 (17,179) and 2020 (16,118).

The charity says the current economic climate, combined with a boom in pet ownership during the pandemic, has created a perfect storm for animal welfare and its officers are seeing the impact on the frontline - with reports of abandoned animals increasing as owners resort to desperate measures.

Evie Button, the animal welfare charity’s Senior Scientific Advisor, said: "Sadly, we also have to deal with a lot of abandoned snakes. 

"We find that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, which we believe contributes to the hundreds of animals every year who have sadly been abandoned when their owners can no longer meet their needs.

"Exotic pets such as snakes often end up in the RSPCA’s care after people realise they're not easy to care for, or the novelty wears off. Others are rescued after they have been abandoned or been released on purpose, which then could pose a risk to our native wildlife.

"The needs of reptiles can be challenging to meet because they are just the same as they would be in the wild and are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions that can be difficult to replicate in a domestic environment.
"Snakes that are not native to this country need a heated environment with a specific temperature gradient for the species to regulate their body temperature. If a reptile becomes too cold they may be unable to feed or move normally and their immune system will not work properly to fight disease, meaning the animal can become very ill so it was lucky these snakes were found."

The RSPCA urges prospective owners of reptiles such as snakes to thoroughly research the needs of the particular species and what is required in the care of the animal, using expert sources. People should only consider keeping a snake if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for these needs.
Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases, dehydration, injuries, parasites, and in severe cases or if left untreated, they can eventually die. 
It's illegal to release, or to allow to escape, any species that are not normally native to the UK.

If anyone finds a snake they believe is non-native the RSPCA’s advice is to keep a safe distance, monitor the snake and call the charity’s helpline on 0300 1234 999 or a local reptile charity will also be able to help. 

This year the RSPCA celebrates its 200th year of changing industries, laws, minds, and animals' lives. To mark this anniversary the animal welfare charity wants to inspire one million people to join their movement to improve animals' lives. Together, there are actions, big and small, everyone can take to create a better world for every animal.

Find out how you can join our million-strong movement for animals