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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Snake found in bunch of flowers
The South American Kingsnake
The snake is now being cared for by the reptile shop owner
A woman with a phobia of snakes was horrified to find one wrapped around a bunch of flowers she had bought at a Cardiff supermarket in her lunch hour.

Joyce Fossett, 59, noticed the South American Kingsnake after returning to the roses and carnations after work.

The owner of a reptile shop nearby removed the foot-long reptile.

Supermarket chain Somerfield said it was unlikely that the non-venomous snake had originated from its flowers.

I can't even look at a snake on TV
Joyce Fossett

Mrs Fossett, from Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, had shopped at a branch of the supermarket in Canton, Cardiff.

She said: "I bought the flowers in my dinner hour. I buy flowers every week.

"When I got back to work I left them on the stairs until I was due to leave.

"When I returned about three hours later I picked them up and there was this snake coiled around one bunch.

"I just dropped them and screamed. I'm really the worst person for something like this to happen to. I can't even look at a snake on TV."

Cold storage

Simon Parker, the reptile shop owner who collected the snake, said it had become so agitated it tried to bite anyone who came near it.

Although the reptile shop is nearby, it does not stock that type of snake.

A spokesman for Somerfield said the flowers had been imported from Spain and Africa and neither place was home to South American Kingsnakes.

He added that the blooms were put into chilled storage for the journey and it was unlikely that a snake would survive the degree of cold.

"We have worked closely with trading standards over this incident, who have confirmed that the snake is exceedingly unlikely to have come from our store," the spokesman said.

"We have given the customer 20 in gift vouchers as a goodwill gesture and hope we will retain her custom in the future."

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