Boa constrictor on the loose in Boston, Lincolnshire

Snake on car bonnet Image copyright Lincolnshire Police
Image caption Police said the snake, pictured above, might have taken refuge in a garden shed

A boa constrictor has sparked a police alert after slithering out of a house.

People have been warned not to approach the missing reptile, which was reported missing in Boston on Wednesday night.

Police have advised people living in the Union Street area to keep windows and doors shut and to block external vents.

The 8ft 6ins (2.6m) snake is not venomous, but boa constrictors attack their prey with their fangs and squeeze it to death, Lincolnshire Police said.

The missing serpent is described as having a white tail and grey, black and brown spots.

The force said the snake was likely to have sought shelter somewhere warm, and so might have taken refuge in a garden shed.

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Ros Clubb, a wildlife expert from the RSPCA, said snakes were "pretty good escape artists", capable of getting through small spaces.

"Any captive animal will explore given the chance," she said.

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Dr Clubb said it was likely the missing boa constrictor had not gone far and would seek out somewhere warm, citing cases where snakes had been found wrapped around boiler pipes and even in a dishwasher.

She added that if the escaped snake, which she said was probably an adult, had recently been fed it could go without food for a couple of weeks, but the cold weather would cause it to slow down.

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