One of the world’s deadliest snakes has been rescued by the RSPCA in Manchester after surviving a 4,000-mile trip from Pakistan.
A forklift driver at Manchester Brick Specialists in Salford spotted the saw-scaled viper in a shipment of bricks that had arrived from south-east Asia last month.
The tiny yet highly venomous creature was soon confined to a cardboard box by the manager, Michael Regan, and reported to the RSPCA.
Staff at the brick firm researched the type of snake it could be but were unaware of how dangerous it was – the viper is one of four species that together account for the highest number of human fatalities in India.
“I knew to keep a safe distance but obviously had no idea how deadly this snake was – it was pretty shocking,” Mr Regan said.
“Looking back now, it really was a good job it was spotted and dealt with or who knows what could have happened… I am glad it is now safe in a new home,” the 40-year-old added.
RSPCA Inspector Ryan King said he was initially sceptical about the call.
“The report came to us that a saw-scaled viper had been spotted but I was a bit sceptical… sometimes we get to jobs like this and it turns out to be a harmless grass snake – we have even attended snake reports which turn out to be plastic toys,” he said.
“However, I only had to take a quick look to realise we were dealing with a reptile which was more than capable of killing people with its highly toxic venom.”
Mr King, dressed in protective clothing, was able to safely place the creature in a snake bag before its transportation to a new home with a special licence to care for venomous reptiles.
“It is amazing that he survived a 4,000-mile journey and managed to live for weeks – and in such a cold climate – when arriving in England,” Mr King said.
“It was quite an honour to deal with this snake and I am pleased he has a home where he will be looked after.”
The RSPCA would always recommend that anyone who sees a stray exotic snake to keep a safe distance, call their helpline on 0300 1234 999 and monitor the animal until they can get there.