Search for 6ft boa on the loose in Wickford, Essex

Boa constrictor
Image caption The snake was an escaped pet

A 6ft (1.8m) long pet boa constrictor is on the loose after escaping through a bathroom window in Essex.

Police started the hunt for the snake, called Diego, on Friday after its owner realised it was missing from his home in Barnfield, Wickford.

Diego slithered out of the bathroom window. Officers said the snake was not fully grown but members of the public were warned not to approach it.

An Essex Police spokesperson said it could be a danger to small animals.

Anyone who spots the snake has been asked to call 999.

Neighbours have been sent leaflets warning that it could be in their gardens and urged to keep children and pets indoors.

Essex Police's wildlife liaison officer is speaking with specialists and the RSPCA.

It is possible the breeding season could have encouraged the boa constrictor to go out hunting and it may have travelled out of town.

Boa constrictors are commonly found in tropical forests in South America and are from the family of constricting snakes, which kill their prey through asphyxiation.

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