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For goodness SNAKES!

PUBLISHED: 15:42 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:08 23 August 2010

Gravesend
30-09-08
Swallow Aquatics
Stephen & Sheila Gould found a Californian Corn Snake on their allotment

Gravesend 30-09-08 Swallow Aquatics Stephen & Sheila Gould found a Californian Corn Snake on their allotment

A SHOCKED dad found a four-foot Californian Corn Snake on a visit to his allotment. Wheelchair-bound Stephen Gould, 48, of Alamein Road, Swanscombe, spotted the bright orange snake with red heart shaped patterns along with his wife, Sheila, 46, as they t

A SHOCKED dad found a four-foot Californian Corn Snake on a visit to his allotment.

Wheelchair-bound Stephen Gould, 48, of Alamein Road, Swanscombe, spotted the bright orange snake with red heart shaped patterns along with his wife, Sheila, 46, as they tended to their land on Sunday.

He poked with a stick what he first thought to be a 'toy snake' at the allotment behind Gilbert Close, only to realise it was real.

The keen gardener said: "I spotted it straight away. It was massive but didn't look real. When we noticed it was real and paid closer attention you could see it was very dozy and was not doing much so I wasn't really worried about whether it was poisonous or not. They can give you a bite but it certainly wouldn't do you any harm.

"We spent a while wondering what to do with it but, suspecting it to be a pet, we were worried it would not survive on its own for very long."

The couple scooped the snake into a tub they had with them and contacted Swallow Aquatics, in Station Road, Southfleet.

Manageress Rachel Huckstepp immediately identified the breed as a male Californian Corn Snake.

Although not uncommon as pets, they are rarely found wild in the UK. The snake is now in quarantine and being cared for by staff at the centre.

Mrs Huckstepp said: "This is quite clearly a lost pet. They can escape from their homes or it is possible that someone has let it go. The snake was in good condition when found and it has been carefully looked after. We are keeping it in quarantine to keep a close eye on him. We would encourage people to come and see him, he is in great condition."

Swallow Aquatics specialises in aquatic species and in the last four months has started catering for reptiles, including lizards, snakes, tarantulas and tortoises.

Mr Gould, a father of three, added: "I don't think it would have necessarily escaped and found its way here. It is more likely that it outgrew the owner's cage and they got rid of it rather than get a larger cage.

Finding a snake is not something that happens every day, but it made our trip to the allotment a bit more exciting."

Californian corn snakes are native to America, grow up to six feet, and have an approximate life span of 10 to 15 years. They eat small mice as babies and gradually move up to adult mice and baby rats.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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