AN RSPCA animal welfare officer rushed out after a member of public reported discovering a venomous snake that had been left on top of a wheelie bin.

The snake in question was described as a cobra, a type of poisonous snake with specialised fangs fixed to the top jaw at the front of the mouth.

When latched onto a victim the snake can inject deadly poison down its needle-like fangs and into the prey’s bloodstream.

Luckily, on arrival at the scene in Shildon, County Durham, RSPCA officer Ron Crawford quickly realised the dangerous snake wasn’t a live cobra - but was actually a rubber toy coiled up on a bin lid.

Mr Crawford said: “The caller had managed to secure it in a plastic tub before calling us for help describing it as a brown snake that had been abandoned.

“Unfortunately, we are called out to a lot of snakes that have been abandoned - often by owners who have taken them on without realising how much of a commitment they are and without understanding the specialist care they need.

“However, once I arrived at the scene I quickly realised this wasn’t your usual snake abandonment - and the snake in question was in fact a toy.

“The caller was lucky it was rubber and not real - cobra can be extremely dangerous.”

The RSPCA advises that people treat any unidentified animal with caution, and that potentially dangerous animals should not be handled.