Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 16:57 UK

Family cat 'eaten by pet python'

Martin and Helen Wadey
Martin and Helen Wadey said they could do nothing to stop the attack

A family has called for a change in the law after a 13ft (4m) Burmese python crushed and ate their cat.

Four-year-old Wilbur, who lived with his owners in the Brislington area of Bristol, was apparently ambushed by the reptile in a neighbouring garden.

Owners Martin and Helen Wadey said they heard "blood curdling cries" which they knew were being made by their pet.

They said they were unable to prevent Wilbur being eaten alive by the snake, which a neighbour keeps as a pet.

We can't know for certain that it was Wilbur, but it is very, very likely
RSPCA spokeswoman

Mr and Mrs Wadey said Wilbur, who had been microchipped, died on 25 June.

The RSPCA said that all the evidence suggested Wilbur had indeed been swallowed by the snake.

A spokeswoman said: "The snake was scanned and we can confirm that a microchip was found inside. We can't know for certain that it was Wilbur, but it is very, very likely."

An RSPCA inspector issued the snake's owner, Darren Bishop, with a verbal warning about appropriate housing and care requirements.

'Very distressing'

The ordeal prompted Mr Wadey, 44, to set up a campaign appealing for the Dangerous Wild Animals Act to include constrictor snakes.

He said: "We heard this screaming coming from the garden. We knew it was Wilbur, we could recognise his voice.

"It was amplified and like a baby screaming. It was very distressing."

The law currently allows anyone to walk into a pet shop and buy a python without any checks.

The Wadeys are campaigning for any potential owner to require a licence because, Mr Wadey added, many owners underestimate the snake's "wild instincts".

Mr Bishop has been unavailable for comment.

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