POLICE had their hands full after a slippery customer was found behind a shop.
The 4ft-long snake was discovered by workmen at the back of West View General Store, in Miers Avenue, Hartlepool.
But they weren’t keen on touching the yellow specimen so headed over the road to the new community safety office in the West View area of town to alert police officers.
Inspector Lee Rukin lifted the animal out of undergrowth and put it in a box in his office before the RSPCA arrived to pick it up.
He joked: “I didn’t mind picking it up. I’m ex-Army and spent some time in the jungle. It’s spiders I’m frightened of!”
An RSPCA officer collected the reptile, which is thought to be a type of corn snake and will have been kept as a pet.
Insp Rukin added: “These grown men came running across to the police station.
“They weren’t too keen on touching it, but it seemed friendly enough. It is definitely a domestic snake that has been kept in some kind of vivarium.
“It’s not your average police job, but I’ve had a few incidents like this now. They often go into warm places, such as behind washing machines.
“It’s a bit different and kept us all entertained.”
And bizarrely, it wasn’t the only snake to be found in Hartlepool yesterday afternoon.
The RSPCA also picked up another tropical snake in undergrowth in Millpool Close, on Hartlepool’s Central Estate.
Insp Rukin said: “The officer had another snake in his van already as a resident had contacted them directly to say they had found it.
“The RSPCA said they didn’t know what it was, that it was undernourished and it was a bit feisty so I didn’t fancy going near that one.”
Insp Rukin advises people who find snakes to not touch them unless they feel “100 per cent comfortable” and are confident they will not be hurt.
He added: “If you are in two minds, just try and secure it as best you can and don’t handle it with your hands”.
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.