The RSPCA has issued a warning to snake owners to be extra-vigilant as they brace for an increase in the number of escaped snakes due to the hot weather.

The warning comes after the animal charity rescued a stray six-foot boa constrictor from under a garden shed in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. As no owner could be identified, the snake, which was healthy and in good condition, was taken to a specialist centre and has now been rehomed.

This year, as the heatwave continues, the charity is advising snake owners to be particularly careful and to double-check that the animals’ enclosures are securely fastened.

RSPCA senior scientific officer Evie Button said: “Snakes are excellent escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid to make a break for it

Map of wild adder sightings across the UK

“Last year, we took more than one thousand reports about snakes, with the highest number of calls coming in during the summer months. This is not surprising, as snakes become more active during hot weather - so as the UK continues to swelter this summer, we’re braced for another influx of calls.

“The RSPCA urges all pet snake owners to be extra vigilant at this time of year, invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and make sure that enclosure is kept secure - and locked if necessary - when unattended.

“We received nearly 1.1 million calls to our emergency line in 2022 - an increase of 1.6% on the previous year, and our frontline officers are flat out trying to rescue animals that may be in life-threatening situations. So a few extra minutes checking that your snake is secure could help save our officers’ time and allow them to save an animal that’s in danger.”

Another reason why more snakes escape in the summer is that some owners take them outside to take advantage of the natural sunlight. While sunlight is good for reptiles, the RSPCA urges owners to ensure that their pet is kept secure when doing so, as they can warm up and move very quickly on a sunny day.

Evie continued: “Many of the snakes the RSPCA’s officers are called to collect are thought to be escaped pets.

“But 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 warning comes days after a dog was killed following a wild adder bite in Weymouth, Dorset.

There are three species of snake found in the UK: grass snakes, adders and smooth snakes. Of these, only the adder is venomous and a danger to dogs.

Adders are generally more active in the spring and early summer having just come out of hibernation, and their venom is more potent.

The adder is grey in colour and has a dark zig-zag pattern down its back, and a red eye.

If you believe your dog may have been bitten by an adder, experts advise you to speak to a vet immediately.