A WALKER answering the call of nature got the shock of his life when he realised he was relieving himself right next to a 6ft boa constrictor.
Iain Lowson, 63, of Torphichen, West Lothian, was walking through woods at Ravenscraig on Wednesday morning when he discovered the snake, which is thought to have been abandoned only hours before.
The exotic male reptile, who has been named Hank by his rescuers, was close to death due to the cold weather but has now warmed up after being taken into care.
The retired civil servant said: “I was on my way home from Bathgate and realised I had to go. While I was doing so I spotted what I thought looked like a snake in the undergrowth.
“I told myself I was just being silly, but when I had a closer look I realised I was right. It was so still I thought it was dead at first, but then I saw it was moving its head slightly. It gave me a bit of a start.”
Mr Lowson called the police, who told him to contact the Scottish SPCA. He then led officials from the animal charity back to where he had made his shocking discovery.
“It’d moved about ten feet, and at first the SSPCA inspector thought it might have died from the exertion,” Mr Lowson said. “It was a bit thicker than a Pringles tube and there was a load of fresh straw nearby so it certainly looks like someone dumped the poor thing.
“It was very cold and frosty so I can’t imagine it could have been out there that long or it would have already been dead. I just hope it recovers, it looked to be in a bad way.”
The SSPCA is appealing for any information about who may be responsible for abandoning him to almost certain death in freezing temperatures.
Inspector Jennifer Surgeon said: “It is highly likely that this poor snake has been abandoned, due to the remoteness of the location where it was found.
“Hank, as we have called him, was very lucky to have survived as the cold weather could easily have killed him. In fact, he was extremely subdued when we arrived and we were not sure whether Hank was even alive as he was completely limp when I picked him up. However, after spending time warming up beside the radiator in my van, Hank soon began moving again.
“He has now been vet checked and taken to our Edinburgh and Lothians Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre at Balerno for onward care and attention.
“Hank is approximately six feet long, weighs over 5kgs and, despite the circumstances he was found in, appears to be in good overall health.
“We are appealing to the public to contact our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999 if they recognise this snake and know who might have owned him, as abandoning an animal is an offence.
“In the meantime, we will look after Hank until we can find him a loving new home.”