FOUR snakes were left to die after being dumped in a plastic box by their heartless owner.
The upsetting discovery was made by a member of the public, who spotted two sealed plastic boxes in undergrowth near Mountbatten Close in Gosport on Monday.
Inside the boxes were three boa constrictors and a python who had all been left without food or water.
Animal rescue charity the RSPCA was called to the scene but could not save the snakes. The organisation has now launched an investigation into the incident.
RSPCA animal collection officer Karen Gregor said: ‘It sickening to think someone simply left these snakes to die. There is never an excuse for abandoning an animal and we urge people to ask for help if they are struggling to cope.’
She added: ‘The poor snakes had been left hidden in undergrowth in plastic storage boxes that have been clipped shut. They were found by a member of the public who had been geocaching who contacted the RSPCA after discovering there were snakes in the boxes.
‘Sadly they were in a really bad condition. They were all very thin, and had been left without food, water or heat. I rushed them to an exotic specialist vet who was sadly unable to save them.’
Inspectors from the organisation are now urging people with information about the incident to come forward and call them on 0300 123 8018.
In 2016, the RSPCA received 6,888 calls to its cruelty line about reptiles with 1,689 reptiles collected by the charity’s officers – which is a 23 per cent increase over five years.
The charity has said exotic pets can be ‘difficult’ for inexperienced owners to cope with and is urging people to do their research before buying the animals.
Reptiles can be expensive to care for; the animal may grow very large, live for a long time, become aggressive or require a licence or other paperwork to be legally kept or sold.
They have the same needs as in the wild, which must be met in captivity by law under the Animal Welfare Act.
The RSPCA currently has dozens of rescued reptiles in its care looking for homes with knowledgeable and caring owners.
For more details on rehoming reptiles, see rspca.org.uk/findapet or call 07815 525 578, to speak to the reptile centre team.
To donate to the charity, see rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3.