A snake up to 5ft long, spotted on the loose in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday, was still at large yesterday.
Karen Phillips (nee Frost) stumbled across the reptile – thought to be a boa constrictor – in Sextons Meadows while on her way home from Hardwick Heath at around 9.40am.
“I was literally within inches of it,” said Karen, who was walking her dog, Malcolm, at the time.
“It could have bitten me I was that close to it. It was a close call,” she added.
The brown snake was curled up on the side of a footpath ‘trying to keep warm’.
Karen yanked Malcolm out of the way and warned passers-by to ‘be careful’ in case it ‘lashed out’.
She took a photograph on her mobile phone and called the police.
By the time the 48-year-old, from Bury, returned with animal experts, the snake had disappeared. But it is thought to have been a boa constrictor.
“I knew it wasn’t a grass snake because I’ve seen grass snakes in Thetford Forest but I didn’t know it was a boa constrictor,” said Karen, adding that she believed it could have been up to 5ft at full length.
A Tweet on Sunday by Suffolk Police said: “A 3ft snake, possibly a boa constrictor, was seen on a footpath in Sextons Meadows, #BuryStEdmunds this morning. If you see it call 101.”
Hundreds of townspeople took to the Bury Free Press Twitter (using #buryboa) and Facebook pages after warnings the reptile would be looking for warmth and could sneak its way into people’s homes.
Andy Robbins, of the RSPCA, said: “If it’s out there, chances are it’ll be a pet.”
He added: “The weather’s getting colder and boa constrictors aren’t indigenous species so aren’t used to this temperature.”
Boas are not venomous. They squeeze the life from their prey before swallowing the body whole.
Any snake-spotters are urged to ‘err on the side of caution’ and not approach it.
Call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or police on 101.