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Snakes alive! Engineers make a surprise discovery in Bexhill

Power engineers were surprised to find a North American corn snake in their cable store.

From News & press - 18 March 2021 12:00 AM

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Pat Syrett, a jointer’s mate at UK Power Networks, was collecting cable from a storage building in Sidley, Bexhill, when he noticed the visitor curled up in the corner of the room.

He said: “I needed some cable from the stores and as I opened the door it was sitting there. I bent down wondering if it was a bungee cord at first, then realised it was a snake.”

Pat called his manager, Kevin Hoy, a field engineer. Kevin said: “My concern was anyone walking in there that was unaware of it. We checked online and worked out that it was probably a corn snake. They are harmless but because we are not professionals, we didn’t take any chances.

“The rescue centre collected it and said if they can’t find the owner they will find a new home for it. It has probably escaped and ended up in the substation because it is slightly warmer.”

In good faith, the team placed the snake in a box in a warm place while they waited for experts from the National Centre for Reptile Welfare to collect him, but later learnt snakes cannot regulate their body temperature, so they need to be warmed up gradually.

Chris Newman from the National Centre for Reptile Welfare, based at Hadlow College, said: “We operate a rescue and rehoming centre for reptiles across the country. Students doing courses on animal management volunteer here on work placements and do research. Three of my students were just about to go home when they picked up the call. I’m very proud of them.

“He is a feisty little fella. He will spend 21 days in the quarantine room while we feed him and make sure everything is functioning well. After that, we will return him to his home or find him a new home. 

“They are brilliant escape artists and it’s likely he escaped from someone’s home. Normally they are found within three to four houses of where they went missing. If we can get him back to his owner that would be fantastic.”

The National Centre for Reptile Welfare aims to improve public perception of reptiles and amphibians and promote responsible pet ownership and animal welfare. The centre is based at Hadlow College, Tonbridge, providing educational and research facilities, as well as providing a rehoming service for animals whose owners can no longer take care of them. 

Reptiles are long-lived pets and tortoises can live to 100+ while some snakes can reach 40 years, and inevitably, some pets will outlive their owners and require rehoming. 

Anyone who finds an unusual reptile or amphibian in their home or garden can contact National Centre for Reptile Welfare www.ncrw.org.uk or call the emergency number 07897 692060