A MAN who was bitten by what is believed to be an escaped pet snake has warned others to be vigilant.
James Griffiths was rushed to hospital on Monday following the incident in the back garden of his home in Hale Avenue, New Milton.
“I went to pick up my dog’s water bowl to fill it up and the snake was underneath that,” he explained. “It bit me on my right hand – it was so quick, and then it just slithered off.
“I was pretty shocked because it’s the last thing you expect to see. I lived in Africa for 20 years and nothing like this ever happened there.
“My wife called 999 straight away and within minutes an ambulance arrived and took me to Bournemouth Hospital.”
James was kept in overnight and underwent various tests including blood tests and ECGs.
“I was discharged around midday on Tuesday; I’m fine but the hospital said I should try to get the word out,” he said. “They didn’t know what type of snake it was, but they don’t think it was indigenous and believe it to be somebody’s pet that has escaped, because they should all be hibernating at this time of year.
“Of course, they were worried because it’s very unusual for people to get bitten by snakes in this country.”
He described the reptile as black and “about the length of the width of the A&T.”
“There is a bit of swelling around the puncture wounds, but apart from that I’m okay,” said James.
A spokesperson from the RSPCA asked anyone who spots a snake matching this description to contact the charity immediately.
“It may well have escaped or it could have been dumped – people just can’t cope with them,” she said.
“We would urge people not to try to rescue it themselves, but to call our emergency number on 0300 1234 999 straight away. We have a team of specialist exotics officers, and we would rescue the animal in a way that wouldn’t hurt it. From there we would identify it.”