Exotic snake still on the loose near entrance to Christchurch Park

The milk snake pictured near the entrance to Christchurch Park

The milk snake pictured near the entrance to Christchurch Park - Credit: Archant

An exotic milk snake spotted near the Soane Street entrance to Christchurch park is continuing to give rangers and reptile experts the slip.

The colourful creature – a native of North America and a species that is often kept as a pet – was spotted and photographed on Sunday, May 15, but has been keeping a low profile ever since.

It is not venomous, but if it was disturbed by a dog it could give the pet a nasty nip so dog owners are asked to keep an eye out for it.

Milk snakes resemble coral snakes which are venomous – but they do not have the black markings separating the red and yellow stripes that mark this creature as harmless.

This snake was sighted in Christchurch Park last Sunday afternoon and park patrol have identified it as a snake which appears to have escaped from someone’s house and if seen again it might cause a little panic with its colours!

It was at the entrance to Soane Street and there have been no further sightings.

If anyone sees it, the council advises that they don’t try to pick it up – report it to the Reg Driver centre or parks’ patrol who can call the RSPCA.

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A spokesman said: “It’s quite an exotic looking snake and while we stress that it is not dangerous it could cause concern if a visitor sees it. We advise keeping dogs away from the snake and for people to report it so we can return it to its owner.”

Milk snakes are related to North American king snakes and eat a variety of small creatures, including frogs, mice small birds and lizards.

They live across North America from southern Canada to the northern countries of South America – the weather in Britain at the moment should suit them – but they are largely nocturnal, liking to curl up in leaf litter during the day.

This picture was taken on Sunday afternoon and shown to the park rangers to allow them to identify the snake – it is clear enough for them to have been able to give a positive identification and to be sure the creature is not dangerous.

Milk snakes are one of the most popular snakes for people to keep as pets and there is no requirement for owners to have a special licence to keep them.

They are often used to being handled by people, but only by those who know how a snake should be treated.