Look out, there's a python about

Increase in pet snakes abandoned in Britain

source: Robert Mendick
Independent on Sunday February 20 2000 p10

Police forces in Britain have had to learn how to handle giant pythons and boa constrictors, after a rise in the number of pet snakes abandoned by their owners. The RSPCA is seeking a change in the law regulating exotic pet sales. Pythons can be bought for as little as 40 pounds sterling, and can grow from 18 inches to 20 feet. Reptile Trust chief executive, Peter Heathcote, estimates some 2,000 abandoned animals annually. The number of cruelty convictions relating to exotic pets rose to 126 in 1999 from 58 for 1998. Children could be endangered by a python or a boa constrictor, and toddlers have been killed by them in the US. The Reptile Trust plans a number of new centres in Britain. An RSPCA spokeswoman notes that it is illegal to release a member of a species not indigenous to Britain, according to the 1981 Wildlife and Conservation Act. Owners with problems can seek help from the RSPCA.