Residents in a County Durham street were shocked to find a three-foot snake on one of the garage roofs of a house - but even more shocked to discover it was someone's pet that had been missing for more than 12 months.

The RSPCA were called to an area in Spennymoor, County Durham, earlier this month after reports that a three-foot-long snake had been spotted in a resident’s garden.

Inspector John Lawson was sent to the scene on March 18 after the shocked homeowner said the reptile was under a plastic recycling box.

The Northern Echo: The corn snake on the roof in SpennymoorThe corn snake on the roof in Spennymoor (Image: RSPCA)

Despite scaring a few Spennymoor residents, the snake had disappeared by the time the RSPCA inspector had arrived. 

However, after a search of the area a resident spotted the reptile on top of a nearby garage roof so the RSPCA officer came to the rescue using a sweeping brush handle to save the reptile.

The RSPCA has confirmed that the snake was actually a pet who had been missing for about a year.

“I think it came as a bit of a shock for the resident when they found a snake in their garden and they did the right thing trying to keep an eye on it,” said RSPCA inspector John Lawson.

The Northern Echo: The corn snake after it was rescuedThe corn snake after it was rescued (Image: RSPCA)

"But they are great escape artists and the pet soon managed to slither off.

“I had no idea where she had gone until someone spotted her on the garage roof. There were a lot of squawking crows around so I suspect one of them had picked the snake up and then dropped her when they realised they had bitten off more than they could chew.

“After I rescued the snake a resident living nearby came over and was delighted as it was her missing pet from a year ago called Agnus."

The Northern Echo: The garage roof that the snake was trapped onThe garage roof that the snake was trapped on (Image: RSPCA)

He added: “I was gobsmacked that the reptile had survived so long as snakes aren’t able to produce their own body heat so they rely on their environment to maintain their body temperature.

"If snakes become too cold they may be unable to feed or move normally, and their immune system will not work properly to fight disease, meaning the animal can become very ill and often die.”

After finding the snake and managing to rescue it safely,  John took the corn snake to a vet for a check-up and she was found to have a respiratory infection from being outside in the cold and was treated for this.

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Mr Lawson added: “The vet believes Agnus had gone into brumation mode (similar to hibernation) and her body had shut down to survive.

"It is amazing that she survived for so long without heat - and also survived after a crow had decided to try to fly off with her.”

The corn snake has made a full recovery in RSPCA care and due to a change in circumstances his owner decided to allow the animal welfare charity to rehome her.