THIS slippery customer caused quite a stir when it was spotted outside a popular takeaway.
The Mexican hognose snake was seen slithering on the pavement outside the Waterfront chip shop at Navigation Point, at Hartlepool Marina.
The 2ft-long reptile, native to Texas and Mexico, had been put under an ice cream box for safety by a worker from the Black Olive bar before being picked up by contractors David Brown and Freek Sijsling.
The pair, who work for offshore wind firm Van Oord at the marina, took it back to Freek’s flat, at Navigation Point, for safe-keeping and rang the RSPCA.
But when the RSPCA were not available at that time, around 10.30pm on Wednesday, they rang the police for advice.
Officers were sent to the scene and they have passed the snake on to Joe Griffin, of Hartlepool-based North East Reptile Rescue Service.
Facilities manager David, 34, who is originally from London, but living in town temporarily, said: “We were coming back with our take-aways when we saw the guy from Black Olive with this snake.
“It definitely wasn’t a native snake.
“My colleague wouldn’t leave, knowing a potentially-venomous snake was loose, so we took it to his flat.
“The RSPCA rang him the next morning and said it was mildly venomous and confirmed it was a Mexican hognose snake.
“It’s not something you see on the floor of the marina every day.
“We heard that two or three weeks ago a corn snake was found at the marina, so this was not just a one-off.”
Now Joe, who runs the reptile rescue service, is appealing for the snake’s owner to come forward by calling him on 07922 953233.
Joe, 43, from Windsor Street, Hartlepool, said: “The police brought the snake round about 11.30pm as anyone in authority, like the police or RSPCA, who have got a problem with reptiles usually bring them to me.
“Judging by the health of it I would say it’s definitely escaped from someone’s house.”
The dad-of-six added that he had posted on reptile-related social networking sites to try to find the owner, but has so far had no luck.
He wants the owner to contact him with proof of ownership, such as a registration document from the shop from where it was bought.
The discovery of the snake follows a similar find, as reported in the Hartlepool Mail on Wednesday, when Inspector Lee Rukin, of Hartlepool Police, was handed a corn snake that was found by workmen at the back of West View General Store, in Miers Avenue.
RSPCA officials called to collect that snake had also picked up a tropical snake in undergrowth in Millpool Close, on the town’s Central Estate.
People who discover a snake should contact the local RSPCA office on (0191) 5273497 if there is no imminent danger.
If the snake is a threat, ring Cleveland Police on 101.