American Rat Snake found in Horsham wood

DOG walkers were ‘shocked’ when they came across this three and a half foot snake in Leechpool and Owlbeech Woods, Roffey, on Wednesday August 31.

Sunday, 11th September 2011, 9:30 am

Horsham residents John and Patricia Giacomelli discovered the colourful reptile around 2pm and spent the afternoon warning other walkers of the potential threat.

Mrs Giacomelli said: “We just turned right onto a path and I said to my husband ‘oh my god John, there’s a snake!’.

“It was bright red and orange, really beautiful looking, and about three and a half foot long.

“But it certainly gave us a shock, and I hate snakes, I absolutely hate them.

“It definitely wasn’t native to this country, so we said we ought to call the RSPCA.

“If a child had trod on it you don’t know what would happen.”

Jake Everitt, countryside warden for HDC, arrived on the scene around 3pm and identified the reptile as a Rat Snake, usually found in the Everglades, America.

He said: “It is believed to have been a pet that was dumped there.

“It would have died if we left it there because it needs to live in more humid conditions.

“These snakes are not venomous, but they’re what’s called a repeat biter, where they bite their prey and swallow it whole.

“If you got too close to it it would have definitely bitten you which would have really hurt and left you with some nasty bruising.

“I tried to pick it up with litter pickers but it wasn’t happy about that.

“So I called one of my friends who keeps snakes like these and after about an hour of being there we managed to grab it and take it to Warnham Nature Reserve where the RSPCA picked it up around 2pm the following day.”