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"This is not what you expect to see on the way back from the shops": Snake eats pigeon on East London high street

Is nowhere safe any more?

"This is not what you expect to see on the way back from the shops": Snake eats pigeon on East London high street
05 August 2018

It’s not exactly what you expect to see on the way back from the shops.

Having just visited London’s finest baking establishment, Percy Ingle, for a delicious loaf of bread, I was walking back to my house, along Leytonstone High Road. Idly checking my phone (inadvisable I know in these days of scooter thefts), I looked up to check where I was going, then looked back down, then looked up again, and then saw this:

Yes, that is indeed a snake eating a pigeon on Leytonstone High Road.

I actually love snakes, they are beautiful creatures and went on a snake day at Barleylands in Billericay for my birthday in February (an experience I cannot recommend highly enough) where I managed to handle a few of the beauties:

However, this lad was clearly busy so I didn’t get too close.

A quick ask around and no one seemed to know where it had come from - was it an escaped pet? Had it been dumped? How had it acquired the pigeon? No one had any answers.

Naturally, others started huddling around and I tried to explain that it wouldn’t be a danger as he was eating and would be concentrating on that. Frustratingly a couple of people tried to move him, which would have caused unnecessary stress.

I managed to phone the RSCPA, who said they’d send someone as soon as they can - I had to leave to be elsewhere so I moved on, hoping the snake would be OK.

I uploaded the snap to Twitter where it went viral - both for the snake itself and people commenting on the ‘wild’ footwear choices in the photo. Personally I don’t get the attention paid to the second aspect - my Leytonstone peeps are free to wear whatever they want, if you want to go barefoot then good luck to you - it’s hot out there my friends.

Twitter also informed me that it was not actually a python, but a Columbian red tail boa constrictor. Hey, I never said I was an expert.

Fortunately a later report revealed that the good old RSPCA managed to attend the situation and rescue the snake, being taken to a nearby wildlife centre, where it was assessed.

RSPCA inspector Rebecca Bedson said: “I’m very keen to find out how he came to be in such a dangerous situation.

“Exposed like that on a street could have meant anything might have happened to him - he could have been run over by a car or attacked by another animal.

“It might be that he is an escaped pet, or more worryingly, someone may have deliberately dumped him and left him to fend for himself.”

“Either way, anybody with any information can give me a call in complete confidence on our inspector’s appeal line by phoning 0300 123 8018.”

Wise words that I would like to echo, these are wonderful animals and they should be treated with respect.

I was reminded that, on a safari trip to Tanzania in 2011, I spent a large proportion of time desperately hoping to see a snake in the wild and had no luck. Turns out I just needed to go walking in Leytonstone instead.

(Images: Getty/Author)