A 16ft python found dead in a canal could have been living wild for a number of days and was capable of attacking people, police say.
The body of the snake was found floating in the canal near to Norden Bridge by walkers at around 4pm on Sunday, March 1.
Police say it is “fortunate that no one came to any serious harm” and believe that it may have outgrown its owners.
A reptile expert attended the scene and recovered the python, which measured at over 16ft 5in.
It is believed to have been around 12 to 15 years old and it may have been living in the wild for a number of days before it died.
Following an autopsy, the reptile showed signs of respiratory disease which could have contributed to its death.
Officers are now investigating the circumstances surrounding how the python came to be in the canal and are appealing for anyone with any information that could assist with their enquiries to come forward.
Ribble Valley Wildlife Crime Officer PC Carl Chew said: “Experts believe that a python of this size could have been capable of attacking a person so it is fortunate that no one came to any serious harm.
“There are specific offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Animal Welfare Act in relation to releasing a python and we would urge anyone with any information as to where the python came from to contact us.
“It is a possibility that the python may have outgrown its home and owners can contact Pip Reptile Rescue if they require any help or advice about caring for or rehousing reptiles. Similarly, we would urge anyone thinking about getting rid of their pets, particularly those which may pose a risk to the public, to contact an animal charity for advice so that they can be rehomed safely and responsibly.”
Rishton councillor Ken Moss said: “We don’t know the details of how it came to be there. There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation, but we’re trying to find out who the owner is.”
Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org.