The RSPCA is appealing for information after two snakes were dumped in the ruins of an 11th century priory in rural Norfolk - one alive and one dead.
A live corn snake and the body of a royal python were discovered in a box outside the gatehouse at Binham Priory, Warham Road, Binham on Monday (7 December).
It is not known how long they had been there.
RSPCA inspector Dean Astillberry said: “It was by pure chance that a member of the public happened on these snakes as they were not obvious.
“The spot where they were found was very remote - and they looked at a first glance like some rubbish dumped by the ruins. It must have been quite a shock to look in the box and see two snakes there.
“Who knows what prompted someone to dump these snakes in this way, but it seems likely that they could have been pets that were no longer wanted.
“It was too late for the python - who was already dead. Royal pythons originate from the much warmer climate of North Africa and in captivity require carefully controlled temperatures to mimic their wild habitat, in order to survive. When people just dump them like this, without any consideration for their needs, they are likely to suffer and die.
“Fortunately the corn snake survived and has been taken to a specialist for care.
“We urge anyone with any information about how these snakes came to be abandoned in this callous way to call us on 0300 123 8018”
Dean added: “Snakes such as these need very specific care and won’t necessarily be able to survive in the wild in this country.
“Sadly the RSPCA is experiencing widespread neglect and abandonment of reptiles as for many people an exotic animal represents too much of a commitment. We would encourage people who are thinking about taking on an exotic pet to research the needs of the particular species thoroughly and ensure they can meet them at all times and for its entire life.”
Caring for reptiles can be challenging and expensive; the animal may grow very large, live for a long time, become aggressive or require a licence or other paperwork to be legally kept or sold. They have the same needs as in the wild, which must be met in captivity by law under the Animal Welfare Act.
The RSPCA is a charity and we rely on public donations to exist. To assist our inspectors in carrying out their vital work please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Texts cost £3 + one standard network rate message).