Irish News

Saturday 2 August 2014

Snakes some of the 'silent victims' of the Celtic Tiger - DSPCA

Peter Breen

Published 12/03/2014|09:19

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The Florida King snake which was found in Tallaght several years ago
A Corn snake
PJ Doyle holds a Bull Snake which can imitate the action of a rattle-snake when distressed with a continuous aggressive shaking of its tail

St. Patrick may have banished snakes from Ireland all those years ago, but a few seem to have slipped through the cracks.

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"Snakes are renowned escape artists", Patrick 'PJ' Doyle of the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) revealed this week, as the charity's latest tenant weaves his way around his left hand and wrist.

Like a kind of reptile version of Brian O'Driscoll, snakes will spot a gap and exploit it. And once they slide their way out of their cages, often times they are very hard for their owners to recover.

PJ estimates that in the region of 10 snakes are found each year around Dublin and over half of them are usually escapees. Nearly all are non-venomous, however the DSPCA has also housed two 14-foot pythons in their old shelter in Rathfarnham. When they escape they are inevitably trying to secure warm areas to heat their bodies or food.

Around 40 percent are abandoned by their owners, unable to afford the cost of housing and feeding them and 'fad' pets of this kind are some of the silent victims of the Celtic Tiger. Though they are quite low maintenance, there is a cost to providing food, light and heat for their tanks. They can live for up to 30 years, so they are quite durable once they are cared for in a secure habitat.

We're introduced to a 4-foot 7-year-old Florida King snake who needs to be carefully handled as he is removed from his own cage. Typically he will eat up to either two dead mice or two one-day-old male chicks a week and is described by PJ as "quite moody" at times.

As well as a small army of other animals which includes several terrapins, turtles, two parrots and a young gecko who was found just last week, PJ provides shelter to several snakes at present. In another large cage, several Corn snakes happily co-exist.

Amongst them is an orange-and-cream coloured reptile who was discovered abandoned on a beach in Rush in north Dublin a fortnight ago. His name? Ian Rush - after Liverpool's great Welsh marksman of yesteryear! Had the inspectors found him two hours later, then he would not have made it because of the extreme conditions he was residing in. With few homes in the area, the inspectors anticipate that he was abandoned.

The aim for all animals who are cared for in the DSPCA each year is to re-home them to loving owners.

So if you are happily minding your business one day and a snake slides along the floor beside you, the advice is try to cover it and call the DSPCA on 01-4994700 or visit www.dspca.ie

Our inspectors will help recover the animal as our commitment extends to all shapes and sizes, common or rare breed, dangerous or placid.

And if you need someone to handle it, then PJ is probably your man.

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