ANYONE asking for snakebite in a city pub would usually expect a heady cocktail of lager and cider in a pint glass.
But workers at the Montague Bar found themselves faced with a far more exotic creature when they discovered a snake lying in their basement.
The unsuspecting St Leonard’s pub manager had only gone down to the cellar on Wednesday to change beer barrels, and was stunned to find a metre-long cornsnake lying motionless on the concrete floor.
Now the Scottish SPCA is appealing for its owner to come forward after officers rescued it close to death, suggesting it could have been on the loose for some time.
Manager JY van de Kieft said: “When I opened the door I thought it was a rubber snake, because my son has one just like it.
“So I raced upstairs to confront the barman on why he had played a trick on me.
“He didn’t know what I was talking about, so he reluctantly came downstairs, and we both stood there thinking the other was responsible for the prank.
“Then it moved and we both jumped back, though I don’t think we screamed like girls.”
It is thought the animal must have escaped from a local household, slithered through the pipes and up through the drains under the pub – usually used for disposing of excess beer.
Because the snake, now named “Monty” by SSPCA staff, was suffering from near hypothermia, it was not in a position to move quickly or cause any real anxiety to staff.
“It’s quite funny looking back on it now,” said Mr van de Kieft, who has worked at the Montague for two years.
“I’ve never seen anything like it and we did get a real fright.
“A lot of our customers have been laughing about it, but I hope it never happens again.”
He instantly called the police, who summoned the SSPCA.
Its staff are caring for it in the rescue centre in Balerno, and want the owner to come forward. In the meantime, they will work to keep him warm and help him gain some weight.
Animal rescue officer Steph Grant said: “Monty was extremely cold and is thin so could have been straying for a while.
“Snakes need heat and can’t survive for long in the cold.
“Cornsnakes are popular pets so it’s likely someone is missing Monty, although we can’t rule out the possibility of abandonment.
“I spoke to neighbours in the flats above the pub and no-one recognised Monty, although they said someone had recently moved out so we are keen to hear from them.”
“If no-one comes forward, we’ll be looking to find Monty a knowledgable new owner.”
Anyone who recognises the snake should call the charity’s helpline on 03000 999 999.