Burmese python found in Wicklow Mountains

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Image copyright ISPCA
Image caption The snake has been named Sammi by her rescuers

An animal welfare group has appealed for information after a Burmese python was found in the Wicklow Mountains.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said a local farmer had alerted the National Parks and Wildlife Service about his discovery at the weekend.

The five-foot (1.5m) python, believed to be female, was found underweight, dehydrated and injured.

Nicknamed Sammi by rescuers, the snake is being cared for by a reptile expert.

The ISPCA said she was "hanging in there", but it was uncertain whether she would survive.

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Burmese pythons have several common names, including Asiatic rock python, black-tailed python and Indian rock python.

The pythons, which are native to south-east Asia, are capable of reaching 7m in length, and are among the world's largest species of snakes.

'Concerned about care'

ISPCA officials think the snake was abandoned days before her discovery, and are concerned about the care it was receiving before its release.

"This snake did not make its own way up the Wicklow Mountains and we believe that it was abandoned and left in an environment not suited to an animal of this type," said ISPCA Chief Insp Conor Dowling.

"In addition to the potentially illegal release of a non-native species, there are numerous possible offences under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013."

Image copyright ISPCA
Image caption Tropical animals like Sammi can suffer slow, lingering deaths in Irish weather conditions, experts say

Animals like Sammi would suffer slow, lingering deaths in Irish weather conditions, said Mr Dowling.

"During the exceptional summer last year, the ISPCA rescued two snakes which were active due to the warm weather," he added.

"It raises the question how many animals of this type are out there dying slowly after being discarded by irresponsible owners that no longer want them."

The ISPCA has called for regulations over breeding, selling and keeping of exotic animals as pets.