Sunday 25 August 2019

'Sammi the snake' dies after being rescued from Wicklow Mountains

'She wasn’t shimmying up the mountain on her own, she was dumped' - ISPCA inspector

Sammi the snake
Sammi the snake

Áine Kenny

A snake that was spotted roaming around the Wicklow mountains last week has died.

'Sammi the Snake' was a Burmese python who was found severely dehydrated, underweight and injured.

It is likely she was abandoned by her owners, according to the ISPCA.

The female snake was captured by Wicklow National Parks and Wildlife. She was then cared for by the ISPCA but, sadly despite their best efforts, could not be saved.

Conor Dowling, the ISPCA’s Chief Inspector, told that she was in a very poor condition when found.

"She was neglected for some time, for several months. She wasn’t receiving the care she needed.

"She either wasn’t being fed or wasn’t eating. These animals can go off their food if they are in an unsuitable environment, or if they are stressed, and they just fade away," Mr Dowling explained.

"She wasn’t shimmying up the mountain on her own; she was more than likely dumped."

According to Mr Dowling, Burmese pythons are not actually that rare in Ireland, and are often bred in captivity as pets.

However, they can grow to enormous lengths, with many people unable to house or feed them. As a result, snake-owners often dump their pets in the wild.

Sammi is not the first snake to be found and won't be the last, according to the inspector.

"Sammi was actually 10 feet long, which is quite small. Some snakes are bought at 2 ft in length, and then grow to 16 ft," he said.

"They also stop eating commonly accessible foods like freeze-dried rats. I knew one man who was feeding goats to his snake; obviously the goats were killed beforehand.

"These animals have quite in-depth housing needs. People are abandoning these pets because they have not considered what it will be like to properly look after them."

Mr Dowling said he believes that pet shops should be honest with potential buyers in what to expect when their pet is fully grown, especially with reptiles.

"Some of the advice isn’t what it should be. Education about the pet should be the priority over the sale.

"If people can’t look after the pet, the outcome is the animal will suffer," he added. 

Conor says sometimes it is hard to find out whether these snakes are lost or abandoned. “We picked up two snakes last summer. When we put out an appeal for the owners to come forward, but no one did. This leads us to believe it was intentional.”

“Snakes are great escape artists. There’s probably more snakes out there than we realise,” says Conor.

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