13 snakes found dumped by bin inside two Buzz Lightyear pillowcases

Tania Snuggs, news reporter

The RSPCA has begun an investigation after 13 snakes were found dumped inside two Buzz Lightyear pillowcases next to a bin.

They were discovered on Thursday behind Farringdon Fire Station in Sunderland.

A member of the public spotted the bedding moving and saw the reptiles inside.

They immediately rang the animal welfare charity and collection officer David Dawson came to rescue the royal pythons, which originate from West Africa, saying they had been left in "extremely cold conditions".

He said: "It must have been a very strange discovery for the people who found them.

"Reptiles like snakes are completely dependent on their owners, who need to provide them with the correct environment, including heating and lighting, so abandoning them like this leaves them very vulnerable.

"It's quite unusual for someone to have this many pythons and to abandon them in what appears to be a child's pillowcase.

"We are now appealing for information, if anyone saw anything unusual in Station Road on Thursday evening, or if anyone knows anything about where these snakes may have come from, please contact us on the inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018."

The RSPCA is urging anyone thinking of buying a snake as a pet to "do their research before getting one".

If snakes become too cold they may not be unable to feed or move normally, and their immune system will not work properly to fight disease, meaning the animals can become very ill.

The charity says reptiles often end up in their care after people realise they are not easy to care for, or once the novelty wears off.

One of the snakes has died, but the others are being treated at a vets in Darlington before they are due to be taken to a specialist reptile facility.