Mechanics at a Northumberland garage had a slippery customer to deal with – a four foot long snake.
Staff at A and K Motors in Ponteland were in for a real shock when they opened the bonnet of a car they were working on, only to discover the corn snake curled up contentedly underneath. The snake had caused a similar stir when spotted in a nearby garden the day before, sparking a police appeal to trace the animal or its owner.
It was retrieved from the car by a reptile expert who works in a neighbouring factory and who is now looking after it in the hope that an owner will come forward.
The snake was spotted in the garden of a home at Thornhill Road last Tuesday morning. The shocked female resident managed to take a picture of the creature before it slithered off.
Officers later put out an appeal for anyone who saw the snake or who had lost one to contact them.
The following day, Ken Barnes, owner of the garage, opened the bonnet of a car he was working on - and was stunned to find the snake curled up above the engine. The shocked mechanic said: “I am not scared of anything but there was no way I was picking that up.”
He rushed to find Steve Foo, a reptile expert who works nearby and who picked the creature up using just his hands and placed it safely in the box.
He took it to his home at Westfield Avenue in nearby Brunswick, giving it food and the heat it requires.
Mr Foo, who has a collection of lizards, including monitors – some six to seven feet in length – at his home, with which he has appeared on a television show about strange pets, was advised by police to hang onto the snake until its owner comes forward, otherwise he plans to keep it.
He last night said the creature was “fit and well”.
Mr Foo believes the reptile is an escaped pet as corn snakes are the kind most commonly kept as such.
He said: “They are the easiest kind of snake to keep, so people get them as pets. They are easy to look after, easy to feed and they tame down quite quickly.”
Mr Foo said the snake would have been attracted to the heat of the car engine.
“It will have gone in there because the engine is on during the day, it would have been warm.”