The snake found in a Redhouse airing cupboard has been reunited with his owner

Slippery pet found in airing cupboard reunited with owner

Fireman Colin Owens hands Boris the snake back to owner Daniel Oliver

Naomi Bushall, of Redhouse, was given the fright of her life when she opened her airing cupboard to find a 4ft snake staring back at her

First published in News
Last updated
Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @Michael_Benke

A TERRIFYING tale had a happy ending yesterday as a slippery escapee was reunited with his owner.

On Tuesday Naomi Bushall, of Redhouse, was given the fright of her life when she opened her airing cupboard to find a 4ft snake staring back at her.

The reptile was taken into care and after an appeal on social media, Boris, an Australian Spotted Python, was identified and given back to owner 21-year-old Daniel Oliver.

It emerged that the snake had first disappeared six months ago when Daniel, who now lives in Old Town, moved out of a flat in the same building as Naomi.

He said: “Boris was in a locked tank but I woke up one morning to find it slightly ajar. I searched high and low, and told the landlord but with no success.

“I had given up hope of ever seeing him again. Then a friend of mine saw a post on Facebook this week about what had happened. They are quite rare snakes, so as soon as I saw a picture I knew it was mine.

“He’s actually in really good shape so he must have eaten. I’m not sure what he has had but he normally eats rodents.”

Boris will now return home following his adventures and Daniel, who has had him for five years, has said he will make sure his tank is secure.

“I am really happy to have him back,” he said.

“I have a few reptiles but Boris was my first. When I first got him he was in a really bad shape and the vet told me it was probably best to put him down but I didn’t.

“He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.”

The reunion took place at Drove Road Fire Station where rural safety officer Colin Owens handed the snake back.

“When we first got the call we thought it might be a grass snake or, at worst, an adder,” said Colin.

“Obviously, as soon as we saw the size of it we knew it was something else.

“I was with Graham Pashley, who is also on the team, and neither of us has come across something like this before.

“Because we didn’t know if it was poisonous we had to make sure everything was done properly.

“We weren’t expecting to find the owner so quickly but everyone is delighted there has been a happy ending.”


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Comments (11)

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7:26am Fri 5 Sep 14

Another view says...

“He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.”

How will we know this is a 'harmless' snake if any us have a similar encounter to Naomi Bushall and her child? What controls are there in selling snakes, spiders etc? What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild?
“He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.” How will we know this is a 'harmless' snake if any us have a similar encounter to Naomi Bushall and her child? What controls are there in selling snakes, spiders etc? What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild? Another view
  • Score: -10

8:04am Fri 5 Sep 14

umpcah says...

I think snakes are the worst thing God ever created but accept that some folk think otherwise and make pets of them. The latter should house them suitably though - locked tank, slightly ajar ? For goodness sake Colin !
I think snakes are the worst thing God ever created but accept that some folk think otherwise and make pets of them. The latter should house them suitably though - locked tank, slightly ajar ? For goodness sake Colin ! umpcah
  • Score: 1

8:43am Fri 5 Sep 14

Wildwestener says...

Another view wrote:
“He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.”

How will we know this is a 'harmless' snake if any us have a similar encounter to Naomi Bushall and her child? What controls are there in selling snakes, spiders etc? What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild?
Pet dogs attack far more people than pet snakes so maybe we should focus on controlling them first.
[quote][p][bold]Another view[/bold] wrote: “He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.” How will we know this is a 'harmless' snake if any us have a similar encounter to Naomi Bushall and her child? What controls are there in selling snakes, spiders etc? What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild?[/p][/quote]Pet dogs attack far more people than pet snakes so maybe we should focus on controlling them first. Wildwestener
  • Score: 16

9:43am Fri 5 Sep 14

benzss says...

Small point of order - snakes are very, very rarely poisonous. But quite a few species are venomous.
Small point of order - snakes are very, very rarely poisonous. But quite a few species are venomous. benzss
  • Score: 6

9:48am Fri 5 Sep 14

Hmmmf says...

Wildwestener wrote:
Pet dogs attack far more people than pet snakes so maybe we should focus on controlling them first.

And guess what? 'We' already did. Laws for controlling dogs are already in place, and have been for a long time, but some owners don't abide by them. Just like laws are in place to protect private property, but that doesn't stop *some* groups of people completely ignoring those too, does it?
[quote][p][bold]Wildwestener[/bold] wrote: Pet dogs attack far more people than pet snakes so maybe we should focus on controlling them first.[/quote] And guess what? 'We' already did. Laws for controlling dogs are already in place, and have been for a long time, but some owners don't abide by them. Just like laws are in place to protect private property, but that doesn't stop *some* groups of people completely ignoring those too, does it? Hmmmf
  • Score: 2

9:57am Fri 5 Sep 14

benzss says...

Another view wrote:
“He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.”

How will we know this is a 'harmless' snake if any us have a similar encounter to Naomi Bushall and her child? What controls are there in selling snakes, spiders etc? What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild?
Well, Another View! You should know that there is one species of venomous snake native to britain - Vipera Berus, or the Common Adder. It is usually 2-3 feet long and doesn't like to be seen. If you come across one of these, don't disturb it or move it and let it carry on its activities. It's a delight to see one in the wild as they are very secretive, so leave it be.

If, on the other hand, you end up with an adder in your house (this is really rather unlikely), keep small children and other animals away from it. By nature, adders are not aggressive and nor is their venom particularly potent, but there is always a chance that somebody will have an allergic reaction.

At this point I'd call the RSPCA or someone. Unless you know what you're doing, DO NOT try to move or capture the snake. For venomous snakes especially you need to be pretty nifty with a hook and broom, and one thing you don't want is an agitated venomous snake mere inches from your face.

As for non-native venomous snakes, you'll be hard pressed to find any outside of zoos and wildlife parks and so on, This is because to own an animal identified as dangerous, you will require a licence, a DWA (Dangerous Wild Animals) licence. The terms of this licence vary from council to council, and I don't really know what those terms are because I'm not stupid enough to own a venomous snake. But suffice it to say it is not easy to get or keep venomous snakes so 99.9% of snake keepers don't even bother thinking about it.

Unfortunately, however, some pet shops - no names mentioned - are more than prepared to sell certain species to certain people where perhaps an experienced snake-keeper like me would rather not. For instance, parents go in with their child and the shop owner, because he is stupid, sells them a Burmese python. Evidently they don't know what an undertaking that is, otherwise they'd have never bought it . So you'll find the reptile market flooded with the larger pythons and sometimes boas because idiots sell baby versions to other idiots.

And no, there are no controls on this because it'd be extremely difficult to come up with consistent rules AND to police those rules. My advice is this: if you want a snake, reptile or exotic animal of any kind, go to a breeder and not to a shop. Breeders are very knowledgeable and professional and won't sell you an animal they think you're not equipped to keep.

As for the last question - 'What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild? - I'd just have to be honest here. The majority of snakes on the market in the UK come from far warmer climes than the UK has to offer. The majority would die within days or weeks. Some - say, corn snakes and rat snakes - may hang on for a season or two but would eventually fall to predation and the weather. There's a very good reason why the UK only has a couple of species of snake...
[quote][p][bold]Another view[/bold] wrote: “He is not poisonous and wouldn’t hurt anyone but I will make sure he is secure.” How will we know this is a 'harmless' snake if any us have a similar encounter to Naomi Bushall and her child? What controls are there in selling snakes, spiders etc? What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild?[/p][/quote]Well, Another View! You should know that there is one species of venomous snake native to britain - Vipera Berus, or the Common Adder. It is usually 2-3 feet long and doesn't like to be seen. If you come across one of these, don't disturb it or move it and let it carry on its activities. It's a delight to see one in the wild as they are very secretive, so leave it be. If, on the other hand, you end up with an adder in your house (this is really rather unlikely), keep small children and other animals away from it. By nature, adders are not aggressive and nor is their venom particularly potent, but there is always a chance that somebody will have an allergic reaction. At this point I'd call the RSPCA or someone. Unless you know what you're doing, DO NOT try to move or capture the snake. For venomous snakes especially you need to be pretty nifty with a hook and broom, and one thing you don't want is an agitated venomous snake mere inches from your face. As for non-native venomous snakes, you'll be hard pressed to find any outside of zoos and wildlife parks and so on, This is because to own an animal identified as dangerous, you will require a licence, a DWA (Dangerous Wild Animals) licence. The terms of this licence vary from council to council, and I don't really know what those terms are because I'm not stupid enough to own a venomous snake. But suffice it to say it is not easy to get or keep venomous snakes so 99.9% of snake keepers don't even bother thinking about it. Unfortunately, however, some pet shops - no names mentioned - are more than prepared to sell certain species to certain people where perhaps an experienced snake-keeper like me would rather not. For instance, parents go in with their child and the shop owner, because he is stupid, sells them a Burmese python. Evidently they don't know what an undertaking that is, otherwise they'd have never bought it [Just so you know, a Burmese python is a very heavy, and often rather long python that requires pretty specialist equipment - like a spare room - and consistent tropical conditions. Not an easy snake to keep]. So you'll find the reptile market flooded with the larger pythons and sometimes boas because idiots sell baby versions to other idiots. And no, there are no controls on this because it'd be extremely difficult to come up with consistent rules AND to police those rules. My advice is this: if you want a snake, reptile or exotic animal of any kind, go to a breeder and not to a shop. Breeders are very knowledgeable and professional and won't sell you an animal they think you're not equipped to keep. As for the last question - 'What happens when the owner becomes bored with the snake and releases it into the wild? - I'd just have to be honest here. The majority of snakes on the market in the UK come from far warmer climes than the UK has to offer. The majority would die within days or weeks. Some - say, corn snakes and rat snakes - may hang on for a season or two but would eventually fall to predation and the weather. There's a very good reason why the UK only has a couple of species of snake... benzss
  • Score: 14

10:06am Fri 5 Sep 14

benzss says...

As an addendum: I didn't make it clear that the most common pet snakes are not venomous. They instead subdue their prey through constriction (which is great to watch, by the way).

So the following popular snake families are NOT venous:

Pythons (e.g. Royal, Burmese, Spotted (as in the article))
Boas (e.g. Colombian Rainbow, Constrictor)
Colubrids (e.g. Corn snake, Rat snake, Kingsnake)
As an addendum: I didn't make it clear that the most common pet snakes are not venomous. They instead subdue their prey through constriction (which is great to watch, by the way). So the following popular snake families are NOT venous: Pythons (e.g. Royal, Burmese, Spotted (as in the article)) Boas (e.g. Colombian Rainbow, Constrictor) Colubrids (e.g. Corn snake, Rat snake, Kingsnake) benzss
  • Score: 6

10:27am Fri 5 Sep 14

Another view says...

Thanks for your comments, Benzss.
As ever it is (certain) people we have to worry about more!
Thanks for your comments, Benzss. As ever it is (certain) people we have to worry about more! Another view
  • Score: 3

12:48pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Chrisg46 says...

benzss wrote:
As an addendum: I didn't make it clear that the most common pet snakes are not venomous. They instead subdue their prey through constriction (which is great to watch, by the way).

So the following popular snake families are NOT venous:

Pythons (e.g. Royal, Burmese, Spotted (as in the article))
Boas (e.g. Colombian Rainbow, Constrictor)
Colubrids (e.g. Corn snake, Rat snake, Kingsnake)
Great posts Benzss, very informative :)

Not so sure about being "great to watch" though, but each to their own :)
[quote][p][bold]benzss[/bold] wrote: As an addendum: I didn't make it clear that the most common pet snakes are not venomous. They instead subdue their prey through constriction (which is great to watch, by the way). So the following popular snake families are NOT venous: Pythons (e.g. Royal, Burmese, Spotted (as in the article)) Boas (e.g. Colombian Rainbow, Constrictor) Colubrids (e.g. Corn snake, Rat snake, Kingsnake)[/p][/quote]Great posts Benzss, very informative :) Not so sure about being "great to watch" though, but each to their own :) Chrisg46
  • Score: 2

5:23pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Moth says...

umpcah wrote:
I think snakes are the worst thing God ever created but accept that some folk think otherwise and make pets of them. The latter should house them suitably though - locked tank, slightly ajar ? For goodness sake Colin !
I keep snakes too Umpcah and lost one of my Kingsnakes (harmless) last year. He is a very old snake, approximately 14 years old. All my snakes are kept in locked vivs (tanks) BUT, we discovered that even locked there is a gap just wide enough for a snake to get out. Because we also have cats and a dog we thought the inevitable had happened to the snake. 5 months later I came through from the kitchen and there, on the floor was the missing snake being investigated by one of our curious cats. He was a bit thin but otherwise fine. We think because he disappeared during the winter months he went into brumation (hibernation). He is now back in his locked tank with a rubber bung making sure the doors are secure so he can't get his nose through any gap. We did alert our neighbours incase he turned up in their house. All our locked vivs have the extra security of rubber bungs as well now. Really glad Boris has been reunited with his owner. For the snake haters out there, snakes are probably the gentlest creatures on the planet. They only attack to feed themselves or defend themselves. Snakes don't like confrontation because that puts them in danger in the wild. They much prefer to just slither away to somewhere a bit safer.
[quote][p][bold]umpcah[/bold] wrote: I think snakes are the worst thing God ever created but accept that some folk think otherwise and make pets of them. The latter should house them suitably though - locked tank, slightly ajar ? For goodness sake Colin ![/p][/quote]I keep snakes too Umpcah and lost one of my Kingsnakes (harmless) last year. He is a very old snake, approximately 14 years old. All my snakes are kept in locked vivs (tanks) BUT, we discovered that even locked there is a gap just wide enough for a snake to get out. Because we also have cats and a dog we thought the inevitable had happened to the snake. 5 months later I came through from the kitchen and there, on the floor was the missing snake being investigated by one of our curious cats. He was a bit thin but otherwise fine. We think because he disappeared during the winter months he went into brumation (hibernation). He is now back in his locked tank with a rubber bung making sure the doors are secure so he can't get his nose through any gap. We did alert our neighbours incase he turned up in their house. All our locked vivs have the extra security of rubber bungs as well now. Really glad Boris has been reunited with his owner. For the snake haters out there, snakes are probably the gentlest creatures on the planet. They only attack to feed themselves or defend themselves. Snakes don't like confrontation because that puts them in danger in the wild. They much prefer to just slither away to somewhere a bit safer. Moth
  • Score: 1

9:49pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Alan Bast*rd says...

Cleganes thumbs are very slippery. Not surprising considering his snakey ways. #toryfiddler
Cleganes thumbs are very slippery. Not surprising considering his snakey ways. #toryfiddler Alan Bast*rd
  • Score: 0

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