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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Snake suitcase stowaway surprise
California King Snake
The California king snake is native to the USA
When a family from Hampshire unpacked after returning from a Spanish holiday, they found an unexpected souvenir.

A four-and-a-half foot long California king snake had crept into their luggage while they were on holiday visiting their daughter in Spain.

The Cox family called the RSPCA, who came and recovered the harmless stowaway from their house in Gosport.

The snake is native to the western USA, but is kept as a pet in Europe.

It would have been a bit of a tricky one to explain to customs officers had the snake got out of the suitcase and made an appearance at the airport
Paul Williams
RSPCA chief inspector
Jean Cox said: "I thought I was seeing things or having hallucinations.

"We still can't understand how the snake got into the case.

"I packed it myself in Rachael's apartment on the Saturday and then zipped and locked it up immediately.

"I can only think that it must have slithered inside while I was packing it and then hid in one of the inner pockets or amongst the contents.

"I am terrified of snakes so it sends a shiver down my spine thinking how long it might have been loose in the apartment before crawling inside the case."

Harmless pet

RSPCA chief inspector Paul Williams collected the snake on Wednesday and it was taken to Marwell Zoo near Winchester, Hampshire, where it was identified.

It is now being looked after by a snake specialist near Portsmouth, according to Mr Williams.

He said: "Calls to the RSPCA about lizards and spiders found in bunches of fruit are not uncommon, but it isn't every day that you have to deal with snakes in suitcases.

"It would have been a bit of a tricky one to explain to customs officers had the snake got out of the suitcase and made an appearance at the airport."





LINKS TO MORE HAMPSHIRE/DORSET STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
New species of deadly cobra
30 Jun 03  |  Wales
Snake 'could attack children'
23 Jun 03  |  South Yorkshire
Kenya python tightens its grip
16 May 03  |  Africa
Snake found in car park
01 May 03  |  Wear


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