A six-foot boa constrictor has been reported on the loose in an Essex nature reserve visited by hundreds of children every week.
Experts say the reptile – probably an abandoned pet – is probably hiding in a dead log or up a tree.
“It’s highly unlikely it would pose any danger to a dog,” Daniel Hepplewhite, a reptile expert who was first alerted to the animal, told The Independent. “But it would eat squirrels or rats, other small creatures like that.”
He added it would be able to survive in the UK until winter.
He said a woman had reported seeing the snake on 20 August. She sent a picture taken on her phone which allowed him to identify it was a boa. Basildon Council have since put up the warning signs.
“There haven’t been any sightings since then so we’re unsure what’s happened,” said Mr Hepplewhite, who runs the Snakes Alive reptile experience in Billericay.
He suggested the owner may have already tracked the snake down or that it may even have been a hoax.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies