RSPCA: Albino python sent through post

Eight-foot snake almost ended up on a plane

A live eight-foot snake has been found in a cardboard box sent from Harlow to Exeter by post.

The albino reticulated python was spotted through an X-Ray machine at Stansted Airport, where it was due to be put onto a plane last Friday to complete its journey. The reptile is commonly kept as a pet and had already spent eight hours in the postal system.

As Royal Mail will not allow the transport of live animals by post, RSPCA inspector Steve Reeves was called to rescue the snake. He said: “It may sound strange, but it would have been easy to miss the fact that there was such a large snake in this parcel. It was just curled up and was very still – so the mailmen picking up the parcel would have had no reason to know what was inside.

“All the machine picked up was that there was something organic in the shape of a snake – so they must have got quite a shock when they opened up the package. It makes you wonder what could go undetected.”

Luckily this snake was unharmed, and was taken to a wildlife centre in Essex while its owner was traced. It had been bought via the internet and the new owner has since organised for a specialist courier to pick the snake up.

Inspector Reeves said it had a lucky escape as there were all kinds of welfare problems involved with sending an animal like this through the post. He explained: “Snakes are very sensitive to their environment and could well become ill if this is wrong. For instance, a cold-blooded reptile could suffer if it was put into a cold place like an airplane hold.

“Even with ‘fragile’ written on the box the python was in danger from bumps and mishaps along the way and snakes are sensitive to stress, such as from loud noise and vibrations, which can lead to illness.

“No-one apart from the sender knew there was a live animal in the box. It would not have had the temperature, humidity or lighting that it needed for the whole of the journey which could have gone on for some time if the flight was delayed or even re-directed elsewhere.”

Sophie Adwick, Exotics and Trade Officer for the RSPCA, said: “This python is a living creature with specialised needs, not some object to be tossed into the mail so thoughtlessly.

“This shocking case shows just how easy it is to order an exotic animal via the internet and the complete disregard that some people have for animal welfare. If you are thinking about getting an animal, visit a reputable seller or rescue centre, not a website.”



Notes to editors


— Find out more about the RSPCA’s campaign about exotic animals at

— For photos and interviews please call 0300 123 0244/0288

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: Website:

Get some Pet respect! Our new educational interactive resource gets key stage 2 pupils exploring out what it takes to makes pets happy and healthy. Find out more at