The RSPCA has launched an investigation after 13 snakes were dumped behind a fire station in pillowcases.
The royal pythons were found inside the bedlinen - including one children’s Buzz Lightyear pillowcase - behind Farringdon Fire Station in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.
The RSPCA said a member of the public contacted them after spotting the pillowcases moving and seeing the snakes inside on Thursday night.
Animal collection officer David Dawson came to rescue them but sadly one of the snakes died.
He said: “When I opened up the pillowcase, there was a bundle of snakes inside. It must have been a very strange discovery for the people who found them. They were abandoned next to a bin round the back of the fire station and left in extremely cold conditions.”
The rest of the snakes were taken to a vets in Darlington before being moved to a specialist reptile facility.
Dawson said the RSPCA is appealing for information on where the snakes may have come from.
He said: “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.”
The RSPCA warned that snakes can’t produce their own body heat so rely on their environment to maintain their body temperature and as royal pythons come from West Africa, they need a heated environment.
If snakes get too cold, they may be unable to feed or move normally and their immune system won’t work properly to fight disease so they can get ill, the charity said.
“Reptiles often end up in RSPCA care after people realise they're not easy to care for, or once the novelty wears off,” the organisation warned.
“Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, as their needs are just the same as they would be in the wild and are fundamentally linked to certain behaviours, diets or environmental conditions that can be difficult to replicate in a home.”
The RSPCA urged prospective buyers to do their research before getting a pet snake, and only consider keeping one if they can ensure they are fully able to provide for their needs.