This slippery customer made an unexpected appearance at an animal shelter.

The 5ft boa constrictor was discovered among donations of food and bedding left outside the RSPCA centre in Patcham, Brighton.

A letter from the snake’s for- mer owner said unforseen personal and financial issues had meant they could not longer keep the snake.

Cheryl Wood from the RSPCA said: “We often get people leaving food and other donations outside the centre.

“On this occasion we saw there was a large plastic box and when we opened it, the snake was inside.

“The letter was very apologetic and said handing it over was a last option.

“Obviously it was not quite the right way to do it, but at least the snake is safe and we can work to find him a good home.”

The snake is between four and five-years-old and is unlikely to grow any longer. Ms Wood said: “Snakes can make delightful companions but they need careful looking after.

“This boa constrictor is used to being handled and is in good health. “We can offer help with getting the equipment needed to look after him and anyone interested can speak to our reptile team for more information about his care.”

Ms Wood said the snake’s arrival brought the number of boas being cared for at the centre to ten. She said: “All our vivariums are now full so we cannot take in any new reptiles until we can find some homes.”

The reptile unit was opened at the centre about three or four years ago and it is very well used, with many animals in need of rehoming.

The charity is currently fundraising so it can expand the centre to meet demand. Anyone interested in offering one of the boa constrictors a home can visit or call 01273 554218.

The centre in London Road is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30am to 4pm.