AN eight-foot-long boa constrictor was among the neglected, abandoned and stray exotic animals found in Oxfordshire last year.

The RSPCA has this week revealed it received a total of 135 calls about exotic animals in the county in 2018.

The boa snake, native to the Americas, had to be taken from its owner’s home in Faringdon last August.

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RSPCA exotics officer Phil Hamilton was called to the address after the boa escaped from its enclosure and was discovered hiding behind a wardrobe.

The owner was not confident in catching the large snake and did not feel they could cope with handling it as it had reached its intimidating full size.

Oxford Mail:

Luckily, Mr Hamilton was able to safely retrieve the snake before the owner decided it would be better to re-home the boa which was transferred to an RSPCA reptile rescue in Brighton.

Among the other RSPCA call-outs last year across England and Wales were a royal python found dead in Cwmbran, Wales, and a dead monkey found in a street in Edmonton, London.

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Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA senior scientific officer for exotics said: “In some cases, we believe owners take exotic pets on because they believe they will be easier to care for than other pets, but it is essential that people research the care of their pet, including food, equipment, environment and vet care, before taking one.”

The charity said the reason exotic often pets suffer is because owners do not do thorough research into the needs and care of the animals using expert sources.

Oxford Mail:

In another case, a couple from Oxfordshire who had returned from a holiday in Greece found a gecko in their luggage and Mr Hamilton was called to take it to the rescue unit in Brighton too.

Across England and Wales last year, the number of calls received to its cruelty hotline increased by 13 per cent from 2017 to 1,175,193.

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Ms Jayson said: “Although their numbers are small compared to more common pets, we have real concerns about the plight of reptiles and other exotics kept as pets or entertainment in this country.

“Some of the animals we see, like monkeys and raccoon dogs, have no place in the home and we would urge people not to take them on as pets.”

Fish were the most common exotic animal to be rescued in 2018 with 1,690 rescued, while reptile rescues totalled 1,420.