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Giant snake skin found in Islington car garage

Garage owner Peter Das-Heffernan left, with office manager James Walls who found the snake skin. Garage owner Peter Das-Heffernan left, with office manager James Walls who found the snake skin.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
8:44 AM

A five foot long snake skin has been discovered in a car garage, just a few miles away from where a colony of the creatures have invaded Regent’s Canal.

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A snake skin was found at an Islington garage.A snake skin was found at an Islington garage.

Office manager at J&J Autos in Blundell Street, Holloway, James Walls, said this is the third snake skin he has found at the site in six months.

The skin, which is several inches wide, has not yet been formally identified, but he believes it could belong to an Aesculapian snake, the same as those spotted on the banks of the canal.

The species can grow up to two-metres long, are capable of squeezing cats and small dogs to death and have been placed on a list of invasive species.

The snakes, which are native to Central Europe, have been labelled as a “non-native species of high concern” by the London Invasive Species Initiative (LISI).

Mr Walls said: “I was going to get changed after work and saw this giant skin on the floor by the lockers.

“I asked if anyone else had seen it but they didn’t believe me and thought I’d planted it there for a joke.

“The skin felt really soft. You can see the whole face – even the eyes and it’s all in one piece.”

He said the first snake skin was found in November by the entrance to the garage office, which he thought was a prop used by a photography studio next door.

When another skin was discovered in January, Mr Walls approached their neighbours to ask if it belonged to them but they had no idea where it came from.

This latest skin was spotted at the back of the garage underneath a toolbox.

Mr Walls said there are small splinters coming out of the skin from where the snake must have slithered across the floor.

“We keep hearing movement coming from upstairs where we store things so I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find it,” he said.

The skin is now hanging in the garage.

“Certain people won’t come in to this part of the garage now but most customers don’t mind it.”

Islington vet, Caroline Allen has urged residents not to “panic”.

“People get very scared of snakes because of the stories you hear but there’s no evidence of other animals or people being adversely affected,” she said.

“In my 16 years here I have not come across an incident of a dog being bitten by a snake, so my advice would be not to panic.”

Ms Allen, who is clinical director at Canonbury Vets and is also standing as a Green Party candidate in the European elections, added: “It’s interesting that we’re starting to see a change in the fauna and flora which could be linked to climate change and potentially and how this could affect the species we see.”

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