A deadly eight-foot Boa constrictor has given its Birmingham owner the slip – and is on the loose in the city.
The snake went missing from a flat in Kitts Green Road on Saturday and its disappearance has alarmed nearby residents.
Its owner Richard Webster, who kept it as a pet and called it Pablo, said he last saw the reptile in its glass case in his sitting room.
The 27-year-old then went out to see his girlfriend and their son, 19-month-old Braydon. But when he got home the glass case was smashed and the hatch to his loft had mysteriously been left ajar.
Richard said he frantically searched his home from top to bottom, even ripping up the tiles of his bathroom floor – but could not find Pablo anywhere.
The snake’s favourite food is rat, and Richard has left samples everywhere to entice him back.
“It’s pickled my head where he’s gone,” said unemployed Richard, who bought the Boa a year ago. “I love animals, I do, and I’ve always been into reptiles, I prefer them to cats and dogs. I like to put him round my neck.
“If someone was to find him and was to start bashing him with a stick he would defend himself. But you could walk past him and he wouldn’t bother with you. They like to chill, Boas do.”
Despite his love for Pablo, Richard said he was planning to sell the reptile because he wants to move in with his girlfriend Marti Payne, also 27 – who does not share his adoration for the snake. He believes Pablo escaped by wedging his head between a shelf he liked to dangle off and then smashed the sliding glass door.
Neighbour Steve Smith, who owns a pawnbrokers, suspects the Boa is stuck in the loft because motion sensor alarms keep going off in the flats.
Steve said: “He came round and told us it’s not poisonous, but it is 8ft long, I was scared stiff. On the lighter side it should improve our security!”
Residents in the area are becoming increasingly worried about the snake’s escape.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said: “Although it is a pet, the longer it is out in the ‘wild’, so to speak, the more chance there is of it reverting to its natural behaviour and attacking for food.
“There is one lady who has a newborn baby – she is really scared, a snake that big could potentially eat a baby.”
Anyone who sees the snake is advised to call the RSPCA helpline on 0300 1234 999 or animal welfare at Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 9900.
BOA CONSTRICTOR FACTS
* Boa constrictors are one of the largest snakes in the world, along with the python and anaconda.
* Boas are non-poisonous but just as deadly.
* They can go for six months between meals.
* They are usually found in central and south America.
* They feed on bats and small mammals in the wild. They are also excellent swimmers.
* Boas can live up to 30 years in captivity, usually on a diet of mice, rats and chicks.
* They can grow up to 13 feet (4 metres) long and weigh more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms).