By Rafi Benady
Slippery customers have dumped four snakes, including two pythons, on the doorstep of a reptile shop in the last three months.
Croydon Reptiles owner, Mark Williams, 53, of Bensham Manor, Thornton Heath, nearly shed his skin last Sunday, when a man – who was caught on CCTV one morning – plonked a box containing two royal pythons and a corn snake outside his shop on Mitcham Road.
The incident has come just two months after a woman, who was also caught on CCTV, walked into the same shop and placed a box containing a corn snake on a shelf, before slithering away.
Upon Sunday’s discovery, the three snakes were taken to reptile charity, the National Centre for Reptile Welfare, in Tonbridge (NCRW).
Mr Williams, whose animals sell for an average of £375 said that sadly one of the royal pythons died.
He’s been collecting reptiles since he was 13.
He said: “There’s no need for them to do it [dump snakes on his shop’s doorstep], there’s plenty of rescue groups which will help so there’s no need to abandon the animals and leave them outside the shop.
“They could just call ahead, and we would make arrangements for someone to come and collect them and take them away, because the risk of putting them into our shop is phenomenal, because of cross-contamination and disease.”
Director of the NCRW, Chris Newman, 61, suspects the python died due to “a gastric problem of some description.”
He also said that corn snake may have fared better than the python due to London being better suited to its natural habitat.
He said: “Corn snakes come from North America, and they are what we call a ‘temperate species’, so they can take very cold temperatures and it doesn’t affect their health.
“Royal pythons are a tropical species and come from West Africa, so they don’t take cold temperatures very well, so if they get cold it can cause them quite severe health problems.”
Mr Newman also urged anyone who’s planning to dump any snakes off at Mr Williams’ shop in future to not do so.
He said: “We’re here to help.
“If you have a snake or a reptile, or an amphibian that you can no longer look after because it’s ill, because you can’t get it veterinary treatment, we don’t judge you on that.
“Bring the animals to us and we’ll deal with them.”
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