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News Clippings

Wednesday 21 July 1999 (Daily Telegraph)

Stray snake ate my hamster

By Luisa Metcalfe

A BOY who went to stroke his hamster was horrified to find the pet clamped in the jaws of a stray snake which had entered the house in search of food.
RSPCA experts believe that the 3ft snake was either discarded by its owner or escaped from a neighbour's house. Seven-year-old Andrew Jones found the reptile, a black and white Taiwanese Beauty, coiled around the dead hamster, Shoot, which was jammed in its jaws.

The snake, which has yet to be claimed, entered the house in Peverell, Plymouth, and squeezed through the bars of Shoot's cage in Andrew's bedroom. Jo-Anne Jones, 30, had bought the hamster for her son six weeks earlier.

Mrs Jones said: "Andrew was very upset by what he saw. He was absolutely terrified and all he could say was 'hamster, hamster'. I could not believe my eyes when I went upstairs to his room.

"The snake was coiled around the hamster and it was already in its mouth. I have no idea where it came from but it was a horrible sight. I couldn't go back in the room, I had to get a neighbour."

She said Andrew was "completely devastated" at the death of his pet last Saturday. She said: "I thought he was going to collapse, he was so upset. He used to sleep with the cage beside his bed, he loved the hamster so much. Now he is so frightened he won't sleep in his room."

After calling the RSPCA, Mrs Jones took the snake and half-eaten hamster to a reptile expert. Mike Teague, of Two by Two pet shop, identified the two-year-old snake and said that although not venomous, it could deliver a painful bite.

Mr Teague said: "It will eventually grow to 9ft. People buy exotic snakes and then cannot look after them. You get quite a few brought in here. If you let a tropical animal escape, you condemn it to death. These animals should be licenced. People are breeding and selling potentially dangerous species including anacondas and pythons."

Mr Teague has now given the boy a new hamster. Mrs Jones said: "Andrew takes the cage everywhere with him because he is afraid of it happening again." She feared that the snake could have been loose in the house for days and might have bitten Andrew or his sister Megan, five.

Janet Kipling, RSPCA spokesman, said: "This snake had either escaped or been dumped. Exotic animals like this are not suitable as pets because they need so much specialised attention."

The organisation is now seeking a home for the reptile.

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