A St Neots resident came across a seven-foot boa constrictor while out running in the town.

The giant reptile was found inside a brown pillow case that had been dumped in bushes by a footpath in Riverside Park.

The RSPCA, which was called to collect the snake, has subsequently launched an appeal to find out more about the exotic animal, which was discovered at about 9am on November 29.

RSPCA inspector Stephen Reeves said: "Sadly, this is not unusual for us to be called to collect an abandoned snake. We believe people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are, and once they grow in size they can no longer cope.

"The RSPCA is rescuing more than 1,500 reptiles every year, and this number appears to be on the increase. The number of calls received by the RSPCA relating to abandoned, stray or neglected reptiles has increased by 71 per cent in the past five years.

"This snake appeared to be in good health, so we can only guess that the owner just no longer wanted him and decided to dump him, when they should have contacted their local reptile rescue centre for help."

Boa constrictors typically measure between six and 10 feet in length and can weigh in excess of 45kg. They are non-venomous and hunt small mammals like rats and squirrels.

The snake was taken to South Essex Wildlife Hospital for care and will remain there until a new home can be found.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing animals in need of care log on to www.rspca.org.uk/give.