The young camper spotted something yellowish lurking in the bushes Sunday around Chipmunk Creek.
It turned out to be a six-foot long albino python.
It is being housed safely at the SPCA facility, confirmed Ivanna Ferris, manager of the Chilliwack branch B.C. SPCA.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Ferris about the abandoned snake.
In fact it’s illegal to abandon an exotic pet in the wild — or any pet for that matter.
“It’s quite tragic. Although not everyone has the means to take care of an animal like this, someone at some point loved this creature.”
A family from Port Coquitlam had been camping in the Chipmunk Creek area, off Chilliwack Lake Road, when one of their three young daughters spotted what turned out to be the abandoned python.
“The family had some previous experience with reptiles as pets, and so they were quite comfortable with handling it,” she said. “They knew it was a pet snake and not something indigenous to the area.”
They gently retrieved the snake, and loaded it in their vehicle and dispatched it to the protective custody of the Chilliwack SPCA facility.
“From what we can see he seems to be healthy,” said Ferris. “We’re lucky he was found.”
The large snake weighs about 10 lbs and they figure he’s pretty hungry.
“We suspect it hasn’t eaten in a while.”
The snake is headed to the Dewdney Animal Hospital in Maple Ridge, where veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton will be providing the care required to house and feed the reptile.
“He agreed to take it since we’re not equipped here to provide that kind of specialized care,” she said.
It’s not unheard of, finding this type of abandoned exotic pet, said the SPCA official.
“It happens. Like last summer we had a similar python found in a park. But overall it’s an infrequent occurrence.”
The SPCA staff were all quite nervous about handling the reptile. But clearly he was habituated to human touch.
“He’d been handled before,” she noted.
She had a message for pet owners.
“It’s against the law to abandon your animals, regardless of whether or not this was a situation where someone had a lack of resources.”
The challenge is that there are simply not enough rescue facilities in B.C. to accommodate them.
“People have to really think about the long-term commitment they are undertaking before they invest their time, family and money on a pet like this.”