A seven-year-old girl has discovered a 5ft-long snake skin, sparking fears there may be a boa constrictor on the loose in Oxfordshire.
Amelia Drewett was out walking with her grandfather in the Oxford suburb of Headington when she found the gigantic reptile skin.
Her family have launched an online appeal in an attempt to trace the owner of the snake, but have had no responses so far.
After getting in touch with the RSPCA about the skin, Amelia was told it most likely belonged to a boa constrictor.
Although the species in non-venomous, they have been known to kill large animals by squeezing them to death.
The skin measures around 5ft but appears to be incomplete, meaning the snake could be much larger.
Amelia’s grandmother Debra Drewett, 65, said: "I couldn't believe my eyes when they brought it home. It goes from almost floor to ceiling.
"They thought it was just plastic in the brambles under the bridge, but they took a closer look and it was this huge snakeskin.
"Nobody's come up with any sort of reasonable explanation for how it got there."
"I was really worried and had the image of a huge snake slithering around someone's garden."
A shop nearby which specialises in reptiles, however, said they believe the snake is being kept in someone’s home and is unlikely to cause anyone harm
Nicole Head, from Evolution Reptiles in Kidlington, said: "I can imagine somebody’s probably let [the skin] go, as a large snake is pretty hard to lose.
"It’s not the first time we’ve heard or seen this happen, but we’re keeping our eye out to see if anyone’s lost it.
"If it’s scared it’s going to be worried, but we can’t imagine it’ll cause harm."
This view was echoed by Colin Stevenson, head of education at Crocodiles of the World zoo in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
He revealed the boa would be feasting on rodents and small birds and the climate meant it was unlikely to survive until Christmas.
Stevenson said: "It's not going to eat your cat. You wouldn't want it to bite you, but it would only give you a nasty wound.”
A licence to keep a boa constrictor is not needed as they are not venomous, so not deemed a dangerous wild animal.
Yahoo News UK has contacted the RSPCA for comment.
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