For days a woman in Hampshire was too frightened to leave her flat because she believed there was a snake on the move in her building – but it turned it was just a children’s toy.
Two RSPCA officers got a surprise when they were called out to rescue the red-herring reptile earlier this week.
RSPCA inspector Jan Edwards was one of the two members of staff sent to deal with the incident in Copse Close in Fleet.
She said: The woman spotted the snake in the communal hallway of her block of flats on Tuesday and said it had slithered up the wall.
‘The following day she spotted it on the windowsill and contacted us to say she was worried because it didn’t appear to be moving.
‘I went down to help and, when I arrived, it quickly became clear that it wasn’t an escaped pet snake – but a child’s plastic toy.
‘I think someone may have been playing a prank on the poor woman. She had been so frightened that she hadn’t left her flat.’
The yellow toy, which has red eyes, has now been adopted by Jan as her RSPCA van mascot.
The charity said the incident followed a case of ‘hisstaken identity’ in Manchester, where two strips of clothing material were confused for a pair of snakes.
Other laughable jobs attended by the RSPCA include toy tigers being kept in rabbit hutches and decorative stone owls stuck on roofs.
The charity urged all callers to check there is an animal in need before calling it for help.
Callers are also urged to monitor the animal from a safe distance and update the charity if anything changes.
To report animal cruelty or an animal emergency please contact the charity’s 24-hour hotline on 0300 1234 999.
News from The News, Portsmouth