Huge snake skin found on River Thames might be escaped boa constrictor
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A man discovered a huge snake skin on the bank of the River Thames and reckons it could belong to a boa constrictor.
Jason Sandy was out mudlarking – looking for potentially valuable items in river mud – near Hammersmith Bridge on Monday (8 August) when he came across two shed skins.
The size of the skin left Sandy pondering what type of snake could have left it behind, noting that an escaped pet boa constrictor had once been rescued by RSPCA near to where he made the discovery.
Posting on Instagram, he wrote: “YIKES! Yesterday I spotted this large snake skin on the foreshore. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A very large snake shed its skin, and it washed in with the tide. I felt like I was mudlarking along the Amazon River, not the Thames!
“I did look behind my back to make sure the snake wasn’t lurking behind me. Swipe left to see the large snake skin in my hand. Can you tell what type of snake it’s from?
“In 2020, a 5-foot long Boa constrictor was found near Barnes Bridge (West London), not far from where I was mudlarking yesterday. It was slithering in the undergrowth along the Thames before it was captured by the RSPCA. I hope this snake skin isn’t evidence of more snakes living along the Thames.”
In a follow-up comment he confirmed he didn’t take the skin home with him because it ‘smelt really bad’.
Sandy asked his followers if they had an idea what type of snake it could be, to which some agreed that it did look like a boa constrictor and others suggested it could belong to an aesculapian snake, which can grow to more than 6ft in length, and have been spotted in London.
Boa constrictors usually live in Central and South America, but are owned as pets across the world.
The non-venomous snakes can grow to incredible sizes, with the National Geographic revealing the largest ever found was 18ft.
The one rescued near the Thames in 2020 was believed to have been abandoned by its owner, according to the RSPCA.
The charity has previously put out a plea to people to think before they buy an exotic pet after rescuing more than 4,000 of them in 2019.
Vet Stephanie Jayson, the RSPCA’s senior scientific officer in exotics, said: “Reptiles and other exotic pets are completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including requiring the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet.
“Some species can grow very large, live for a long time or require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold.
“Many of the animals we’re called to help are found stray outside, where they can very quickly suffer in the cold.”