independent

Thursday 13 December 2018

Home wanted for 'a social, friendly' escaped snake

The ISPCA is seeking a special home for the Royal Python that caused a commotion in County Leitrim this summer.

After the python was secured in mid-July, she was brought to a reptile centre in Letterkenny for rehabilitation. Rescuers named her "Penelope", and monitored the snake for several weeks to ensure she was healthy and eating following a veterinary assessment.

Penelope is fully recovered and ready to go to a special home where her new owner has the specialist knowledge and skills to provide proper care for her, for the rest of her life.

ISPCA Senior Inspector Kevin McGinley said: "It is important that this python goes to an experienced reptile keeper.

"We rescued a few snakes that were on the loose this summer, and would like to remind the public that these reptiles make great escape artists. Please make sure their enclosures are secure, and please don't deliberately release them."

The python was first spotted by a startled member of the public walking near Leitrim's Kinlough Park, where the snake was sunning herself on the side of a trail. In the week that followed the ISPCA received a number of calls from concerned residents in the area, and Senior Inspector McGinley offered to assist the local Gardaí and wildlife rangers with finding her.

She was seen several times in the park before Penelope was caught by a volunteer, nearly one week after her first appearance.

When she was secured, Penelope was identified as a Royal Python, approximately three years old and one meter in length. She was in relatively good condition, but slightly hungry. She is a social and friendly snake.

It was unclear how the snake came to be in the park. Because no one has come forward with information regarding Penelope's origin, she can be rehomed.

The ISPCA continues to advocate for stricter controls over the sale and keeping of exotic species, including a 'positive list' of species which are permitted to be bred, sold and kept as pets based on their welfare needs and whether they pose a risk to human health or the environment if they escape or are deliberately released.

Royal pythons can live for up to 20 years, and therefore must go to homes where the owner understands the long-term commitment involved in owning these reptiles.

Pythons, like all exotic animals, must be housed in an environment that as best as possible mimics conditions in their natural environment. Royal pythons are native to sub-Saharan Africa and generally live in grasslands, savannahs or sparsely-wooded areas.

They are solitary in the wild and should not be kept with any companions.

These snakes are non-venomous, and as pets should be fed a diet of pre-killed mice and rats.

If you are interested in adopting Penelope, please contact ISPCA Donegal Animal Rehabilitation Centre, telephone; 074 91 52360 or email; donegal@ispca.ie

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