shop staff in the Capital were left shocked when they discovered a 3ft long snake slithering across the store’s loos.
Native to the humid south-east of the US, the corn snake is most commonly at home in scrubby undergrowth and not the floor of a Fountainbridge bathroom.
But that’s where the unsuspecting members of a card craft workshop discovered Strawberry,who had been missing for five months.
Emma Dennison, who co-owns Stamper Grove with husband James on Grove Street was stunned when a customer calmly pointed out the species of rat snake on the floor of the toilet craft store on Saturday.
She said: “I was waiting outside to go to the loo and I heard shouts of “it’s real, it’s real” – I thought they might have found a mouse but the tutor of the workshop Sarah Allan, told me there was a snake in the toilet.”
Emma ran to the front of the shop: “I am scared of snakes but I didn’t realise how much until Saturday.”
Fiona Christie, the customer who found Strawberry, was surprised by her own reaction. “I headed to the loo at the end of our class and something caught my eye. I clocked that there was something on the floor and stepped over it.
“Emma’s kids sometimes come into the shop and I thought they had left a rubber toy on the floor.
“But when I turned around and looked properly at it, the tail started moving.
Instead of screaming, Fiona remained calm. “It actually looked quite sweet,” she said. “It didn’t look fierce or as if it was about to swallow me whole.
“It was obvious it wasn’t dangerous and the poor wee thing looked quite terrified. It’s not quite what I expected from a Saturday craft class and we weren’t charged any extra for the entertainment.”
As tutor Sarah, phoned the SSPCA, Emma started to contact her neighbours and struck lucky straight away. Richard, in the flat above, admitted he used to have a snake but it had been missing for five months.
She said: “He came straight down to the shop and owner and pet were immediately reunited.”
The non-venomous breed of snake is harmless to humans. Their calm temperament make them one of the most popular types of snakes to keep as pets, and can live up to 15 years. Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Snakes are fantastic escape artists and they can squeeze themselves through the tiniest gaps. They can also survive for long periods of time without food or water.
“It’s quite common for us to rescue corn snakes from all sorts of situations, often bathrooms in blocks of flats. We think they may use the drain pipes to move from one property to another.”
The relatively mild winter and prevalence of mice amidst the old city tenement buildings could have contributed to Strawberry’s survival.