Snake rescued from cat’s clutches after giving its Donaghadee owner the slip
A Co Down woman got a surprise earlier this week when she found a snake making itself at home in her garden.
Margaret McClean from Donaghadee discovered the bright orange reptile on Monday morning and phoned the police.
The PSNI in Ards revealed the find on its Facebook page and paid tribute to Margaret, saying she had "very bravely got the snake into a pillow case".
"It couldn't have gotten far from its owner so if anyone in the area knows of its owner give them a shout. From speaking with the vet I believe the little fellow is a corn snake," a PSNI officer posted.
The corn snake, which preys on mice and rats, is docile and completely harmless.
Margaret told the Belfast Telegraph the snake gave her a scare, but she wanted to make sure it was OK.
"At first I thought it was a toy but then a cat appeared and got it by the tail and the snake started moving so I shouted and clapped my hands to scare the cat away," she said.
"It did scare me because I don't like snakes - never have - but I don't know what kicked in. My first thought was to keep it safe.
"I thought: 'Oh my God'.
"I just helped it and didn't know what to do with him, so I contacted the police and they were amazing. And with the power of Facebook the owner was found, with the help of everyone who shared and commented."
The snake was taken to a local vet while the PSNI issued an appeal to find its owner.
It is far from being the only exotic creature kept in Northern Ireland. Two years ago the Belfast Telegraph revealed some of the unusual pets here, including vipers, raccoons, coatis and a Gila monster - a venomous lizard native to the desert on the the US-Mexico border.
The most common exotic pets are ring-tailed lemurs, with nine kept in Northern Ireland.
There are also six emus, five racoons, two tigers and even a wolf.
Some of the more unusual creatures include a western diamondback rattlesnake. A venomous species, its name comes from the dark diamond-shaped patterns on its skin.