Terrified residents of a street in Southampton were faced with the sight of a huge snake trying to force its way into a house through an open bedroom window.
The “very dangerous” albino Burmese python, which weighs six stone, was spotted by neighbours as it made its way across a roof in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, in the early hours of the morning.
It attempted to get inside the upstairs window of a terraced house, but residents inside managed to use a broom handle to fight off the snake and poke it back out, before it fell 20ft onto the bonnet of a car below.
Neighbour Jenny Warwick, 62, said: "I saw something on the roof and thought it must be a plastic tube, but then its head started moving…
"It's not what you want to see first thing in the morning, I think it's very irresponsible to let it loose.”
A neighbour looked after the serpent, which is one of the largest snakes in the world, in her conservatory until it woke up.
The woman – who did not wish to be named – keeps snakes herself but insisted the serpent in question was not hers.
She said: "It's a very dangerous snake and it’s massive.
"I felt sick when my friend told me it was trying to get into someone's house. There could have been a baby in there or anything.
"I used to keep snakes and I know that when they're hungry they can turn nasty.”
The owner of the snake later collected it after he was contacted by locals.
RSPCA scientific officer Evie Button said: “Snakes are excellent escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid to make a break for it…
"Snakes become more active during hot weather. So we would urge all pet snake owners to be extra vigilant at this time of year, invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and make sure that enclosure is kept secure – and locked if necessary – when unattended.”
Burmese pythons are native to south-east Asia and usually feed on birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
They are capable of inflicting severe bites and killing by constriction and require custom-built enclosures if kept as pets.