Snake on loose in Cambridge is 'risk to small animals'

Missing python
Image caption The male python escaped when its enclosure was not properly secured by a "snake-sitter"

A 9ft (2.7m) snake on the loose in Cambridge for more than 24 hours poses "a risk" to small animals, police warn.

The python, called Turin, escaped through a bay window when a friend of the owner was "snake-sitting".

It was spotted in Lovell Road in the early hours of Sunday but police said there had been no further sightings.

Reptile expert Steve Allain said a python was unlikely to attack cats or dogs, which could fight back, but could prey on rabbits or chickens.

Cambridgeshire Police tweeted about the missing snake on Sunday saying it had traced its owner, who confirmed the reticulated python was missing.

On Monday officers said there had been no further sightings and assured people "the snake is only a risk to small creatures".

The snake's owner - who did not want to be identified - said his male python escaped when a friend did not close the vivarium properly.

Image caption The owner put flyers through neighbours' doors after the snake escaped

A woman who lives nearby said: "It's quite concerning to be living around here knowing that there's a python about the place."

She said her two young children were quite small and could "probably fit in a python's mouth pretty easily, I'd imagine".

A builder working in the street said he was "digging trenches, new drains and looking for a snake".

Steve Allain, the chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Amphibian and Reptile Group, said the python was not a danger to people.

"In their native environments they can grow very large - about 25 or 30ft - and with very petite people you do occasionally hear about them being eaten," he said.

"'But this one is only 9ft."

Image caption Sir David Attenborough came face-to-face with a giant reticulated python in 2002 - but the Cambridge snake is much smaller

He said Turin was likely to be "very confused and definitely terrified", however, he said snakes "weigh up the risks" when deciding what to eat and this one was not likely to attack anything that could fight back.

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A spoof Twitter feed appeared on Sunday purporting to be the ramblings of the wayward python.

"I'm the 9ft python running around Cambridge. I heard the police is looking for me ssssssssssss," it "posted".

In another post, the python tweeted: "Great day out today at Cambridge Foodie Festival at Parker's Piece.

"Planned to eat people but got distracted by the street food."

Anyone who sees the reptile, which is not venomous but wraps around its prey and suffocates them, is urged to call 101.

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