A COUPLE walking their dog found a 12ft python curled up under a tree in Oswaldtwistle.
Peter and Nicola Hawkins, of Park Lane, were shocked to discover the exotic snake, which RSPCA officers believe had been dumped, as they embarked on their daily stroll with golden retriever Archie in woods off Cobb Lane.
The animal organisation is now appealing for information on the black and grey Burmese python, which they have nicknamed Percy.
Nicola, 44, spotted the snake by the roots of an upturned tree and, thinking he was dead, her husband went to have a closer look.
But when Percy winked at them, the surprised couple went to call the RSPCA before returning to point inspectors in the direction of their unusual find.
By the time they arrived the sun-worshipping snake had found itself a warmer spot, stretched out by a nearby stream.
Peter, 41, said: "It was a bit of a shock when we saw it. It was so huge we had to bring a dog cage to carry it down to the inspector's van.
"Its head was twice the size of my hand and apparently the python is strong enough to wrap itself around someone and strangle them."
RSPCA inspector Jason Bowles managed to lift Percy into the cage before enlisting some youths to take turns carrying him back on the 15-minute walk to his vehicle.
Inspector Bowles said it looked like Percy had been dumped by owners who did not know how to care for him properly.
He added: "Snakes are cold- blooded and cannot regulate their own body temperature so they need a heated vivarium if they are to survive.
"If the weather hadn't been quite so sunny at the weekend dumping Percy would have been a death sentence."
Anyone with information about Percy can ring 08705-555999 and leave a message for Inspector Bowles.