A Corby couple who rescue reptiles have urged people to think about whether they can properly look after snakes before they buy them.
Joanna and Jez Aldwinckle run Midland Large Snake Rescue and Rehoming from their home in Great Oakley.
Since starting out they have taken in 40 to 45 snakes ranging from small corn snakes to a 16ft 3in Burmese Python.
But Joanna, 35, says rescuing from inexperienced and unprepared owners is far too common.
She said: “There are lots of people who like the idea of buying a small 12in snake, it’s a kind of symbol to some people.
“But what they don’t think about is whether they can look after them when they are 15ft to 18ft long, and the financial costs behind updating equipment and exotic vet costs.
“They’re gorgeous animals and most of the time and in the right hands are perfectly safe.
“If someone takes them on who doesn’t know what they’re doing, that’s when it could become dangerous for the animal and the owner.”
Mrs Aldwinckle also warned about the frequent danger of buying snakes from people on social media, having paid £40 to rescue an anaconda from Chichester herself.
She said: “The seller wasn’t even asking would-be owners if they had experience and that’s wrong.
“I could go on Facebook now and buy you a fully grown reticulated python snake for £300 but if you’ve not had snakes before it could be hazardous for both your and the animal’s safety.
“We’re not selling these animals, we just want to give them to a good placement home.
“We’re a non-profit organisation and it’s a passion of ours.
“People who need to rehome an animal should also look at rescuers and make sure they’ve got the right experience before they take one on.
“We do not have an adoption fee either, where many unregistered rescuers do when legally they cannot.
“We also work with and take on animals for the RSPCA if the need arises.”
Their work is completely self-funded and while they do take on animals that are dumped, Joanna added that there are many people who have to give up animals for legitimate reasons such as health issues.
Jez, 45, added that people can pay up to £1,000 for a snake without fully understanding what they are doing.
Anyone wanting further information about rehoming snakes can contact Joanna and Jez on 07933 071250 or by visiting their Facebook page.