THE police were handed a slippery snake-in-the-grass who was caught bang-to-rights after he escaped. But they refused to arrest him. In fact, they didn’t lay a hand on him.
For this literally WAS a snake, a five-footer that was discovered in the grass at Redmanville estate during the building of the bonfire.
And despite the PSNI’s reticence to feel the snake’s collar - or whatever one does to apprehend reptiles - this wriggler was totally harmless.
He is a corn snake, whose natural habitat is south-east America and Mexico where he feasts on mice and small rats, and is a great friend and favourite of the farmers who till the soil that particular part of the country.
But corn snakes cannot survive in the more temperate climes of Northern Ireland and it was his good luck that he was found by Redmanville residents who knew what to do after the police spurned him - so the finder immediately took him to L.A. Pets at Mahon Road where owner David Rooney is caring for the snake.
David placed him in a ‘viv’, or vivarium, where animals from the sub-tropic are much more at home in controlled temperatures of 30-plus and are hand-fed rather than having to scour the wild country, seeking tasty mice.
Said David, “The corn snake is actually a very docile snake, perfect for beginners - except maybe if you happen to be a mouse or a small rat. In the wild, they strike like lightning and crush their victims. But they need heat to digest their prey and can’t do that here. Otherwise, they’d die.”
David added that the Redmanville snake was especially well cared for by someone who knew exactly how to feed and house him. “They’re actually pretty common in Portadown as they make super pets,” he added. “It’s against the law to feed them live mice, so we import frozen ones and sell them to snake owners who defrost them!”
In the meantime, David and his staff are keeping the new resident well fed and well housed until the owner comes forward to claim him.
Said David, “We reckon that someone may have been delivering bonfire material and the snake got entangled in it. He really is in good nick.”