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Posted by W von Papinešu on February 26, 2003 at 20:43:33:
SOUTH WALES ECHO (Cardiff, UK) 20 February 03 `Animal Lover' Starved Python
A woman whose pet python starved to death has been banned from keeping reptiles for 10 years.
Magistrates in Barry heard that Natalie Joanne Williams, 32, of Tresilian Close, Llantwit Major, fed her snake Jake just twice in the six months she owned him.
A post-mortem examination on Jake, carried out on September 3 in Cardiff, showed he was severely malnourished and virtually blind by the time he died.
David Prosser, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said: "Adult snakes can be fed three mice per fortnight but he was fed woefully inadequate levels of food. The person in charge was unfamiliar with its requirements and didn't know how to care for an exotic animal."
He said the ball python was kept in a wooden vivarium, made from an old chest of drawers, that was too small for it.
The court heard Williams had always wanted a snake and was given Jake by an acquaintance who told her it could go up to two years without food.
Michael Morgan, defending, said: "It was not deliberate but a case of Miss Williams acting on ill-informed advice on how to look after her snake. It's devastating for her to be here as she's always considered herself to be an animal-lover."
Mr Morgan told the court Williams had raised other pets without any problems and had even paid £140 in vets' bills when Jake developed a skin complaint.
He added: "When the snake then died it was Miss Williams who reported the matter to the RSPCA. She believed it wasn't her fault and wished to bring the society's attention to the previous owner."
The court gave Williams a three-year conditional discharge, disqualified her from keeping reptiles for 10 years and ordered her to pay £100 costs and £100.43 vets' fees for the post-mortem.
An RSPCA spokesman said: "We're delighted with the outcome of this case and hopefully it highlights the problem of people who don't know how to look after these pets. This kind of exotic pet needs extra special care and attention."