Only snake of its kind in Britain for sale in Wisbech - and could be worth thousands
PUBLISHED: 08:35 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:25 02 June 2010
A SNAKE believed to be the only one of its kind in the country is now on sale at DK Reptiles in Wisbech. The short snouted grass snake is so rare the Natural History Museum took eight weeks to identify it - and staff are unsure how much to sell it for.
Story by: TOM JACKSON
A SNAKE believed to be the only one of its kind in the country is now on sale at a Wisbech pet shop - but there's one small problem.
The short snouted grass snake was given to DK Reptiles as part of large collection by someone who could not look after it any more.
It is so rare that the Natural History Museum took nearly two months identifying it - and as a result staff are unsure how much to sell it for.
Stefan McNally, deputy floor manager of the Union Street shop, said: "We are intending to sell it but we have no idea how much the snake is worth. We could be sitting on a gold mine - it could be worth thousands of pounds.
"We were given it with some common snakes and some corn snakes, but the owner didn't know what it was. We got in touch with Colchester Zoo, London Zoo and the Natural History Museum to find out.
"The Natural History Museum came back to us and said this is only the second one they have seen in 40 years, and they believe it is the only one currently alive in the country."
The short snouted grass snake - psammophis brevirostris brevirostris - was originally found in Africa. Importation stopped 28 years ago.
It is about 4ft long, is rear-fanged and venomous but will not kill so does not need to be licensed. Its venom is neurotoxic, meaning it attacks the nervous system.
Mr McNally said: "Most of the information we got back was from the Natural History Museum but it took them about six to eight weeks to get back because even they struggled to find out what it is.
"It has been quite a task to find out, but every day we are finding out more about it."
He added: He HHHH"Its venom potency is low - I have been bitten by it several times.
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