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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on July 24, 2002 at 13:47:45:
EXPRESS & ECHO (Exeter, UK) 23 July 02 Hot Weather Is Bringing Snakes Into The Garden
Wildlife experts are urging people to stay calm if they spot a snake following an increased number of sightings of reptiles in Westcountry gardens due to the heatwave.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) says that the rise in temperature has woken snakes from their state of reduced activity and they have become more active. The recent run of good weather has led to the RSPCA's regional centre in Exeter, which takes calls from all over the South West, receiving at least one report a day from people concerned about snakes.
Slow worms, adders and grass and smooth snakes are all native to Britain and sometimes venture out to rural gardens at this time of year. But there is no need to panic. The RSPCA advises that snakes are very timid creatures and quickly disappear if they come into contact with a human. Grass snakes are good swimmers and are often found near ponds, streams and lakes. They are completely harmless to humans and pets. They are normally olive green or brown in colour with black bars or spots down their sides and a yellow and black 'collar' behind the head.
Rob Atkinson, head of the RSPCA's wildlife department, said: "If someone finds a snake they should stay calm and not touch it. There is no need to be scared because, if left alone, they will go away.
"They are more frightened of humans that we are of them; in fact, some snakes are so rare that we should be pleased to see them in our neighbourhood."