ONE of the world’s biggest breeds of snakes was found dead by the Leeds and Liverpool canal.

The reticulated python, which measured around 16 feet, was found by horrified walkers near the High Street canal bridge in Rishton.


Ribble Valley Wildlife Crime Officer PC Carl Chew said: “Experts believe that a python of this size could have been capable of attacking a person so it is fortunate that no one came to any serious harm.

“There are specific offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Animal Welfare Act in relation to releasing a python and we would urge anyone with any information as to where the python came from to contact us.

“It is a possibility that the python may have outgrown its home and owners can contact Pip Reptile Rescue if they require any help or advice about caring for or rehousing reptiles.

"Similarly, we would urge anyone thinking about getting rid of their pets, particularly those which may pose a risk to the public, to contact an animal charity for advice so that they can be rehomed safely and responsibly.” 

It is believed to have been around 12 to 15 years old and it may have been living in the wild for a number of days before it died.

Following an autopsy, the reptile showed signs of respiratory disease which could have contributed to its death.

Officers are now investigating the circumstances surrounding how the python came to be in the canal and are appealing for anyone with any information that could assist with their enquiries to come forward.

Rishton councillor Ken Moss said he suspected the snake had been dumped after growing too big for its owner, and described whoever left it as ‘heartless’.

He said: “The general consensus is it has gotten too big for somebody and they have dumped it in the canal.

“If that’s the case it’s heartless. because We have a reptile shop in Rishton and they would have taken it.

“People need to be aware of just how big these animals can get.

“Of course, there could be a completely innocent explanation but someone somewhere knows who that snake belongs to, and we are hoping to find out who.

“The snake could not have lasted long in this weather.”

An adult reticulated python, native to Asia, can grow up to 23 feet long and one the size of that found in Rishton would need to eat two to three rats every few days, or a large rabbit.

It would cost about £60 a month in food, plus maintenance, to keep, as well as an appropriate tank.

David McGlynn, owner of Reptile Wonderland in High Street, said: “The snake is a reticulated python, which is one of the biggest snakes in the world.

“I would not advise anybody to buy a a snake as big as that. I know how much it would cost people.

“When somebody found it, they came in the shop and asked if we had lost a snake.

“People automatically presume it’s something to do with us, but it wasn’t.”

Mr McGlynn said he was confident the snake would have been dumped after it was dead, but added that it would have died within the day if it had been placed in the canal while still alive.

The snake was removed from the canal at around 5pm on Sunday.

Last June the decomposing carcass of a 10ft snake was found in the canal at Huncoat.

It was thought the animal had been dumped so its owner could avoid the cost of disposing of it.

The RSPCA said anyone with information on where the snake had come from should call 0300 123 4999.