RSPCA staff underestimated the size of the task when they were called out to capture a snake sighted in the Peak District.
Expecting to take a grass snake into custody, officer Kim Greaves turned up on Burbage Moor with a small plastic box – only to be confronted by a 12-foot python!
The snake was discovered by fell runners Molly Gorman, from Holymoorside, and Jules Barrett, who were jogging across Burbage Moor towards Ox Stones trig point when they spotted something in the heather.
Following first aid instructions, they threw a stone at it, but there was no sign of life so they ran on. However, when they checked on their way back, they found the snake had moved.
“At first we thought someone was playing a trick on us and perhaps there were cameras in the wood,” said Molly, an ecologist.
“But we decided it was unlikely anyone would pull a dead snake around for fun and we then noticed it was moving a bit, so we rang the RSPCA.”
Jules, an outdoor instructor, said: “They took a bit of convincing that it wasn’t a grass snake and kept asking if it was greenish brown, with a collar. I said ‘No, it’s seven foot long, about five inches across and built like Mike Tyson’!”
Animal welfare officer Kim responded to the call and was astonished to be confronted by the huge snake: “She was very brave given the amount of spitting and hissing and baring of teeth it was doing.”
Kim first tried using a hook to pick up the snake. But it started hissing and tried to escape down a nearby rabbit burrow, so she grabbed it with both hands.
Wrestling for its freedom, the python wrapped itself around Kim’s arm, but she clung on and pulled until its entire 12ft length was free of the hole.
The small box had been discarded in favour of a pillowcase – and the snake was finally secured inside a duvet cover, tightly fastened with a zip tie and driven back to Sheffield in the front of Kim’s van.
The Granite Burmese python is thought to have been dumped deliberately on the moors. RSPCA inspectors said it was initially quite wild, riddled with mites and clearly underweight.
It is now in a specialist reptile facility where it is gaining weight, becoming more manageable and has been named Marbles because of its unusual colouring.