Police are appealing for information after a 16ft python was found dead in a Lancashire canal.
The reticulated python was discovered floating in the canal at Rishton near to Norden Bridge by walkers at around 4pm on Sunday.
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.”
Anyone with information can contact Lancashire Police on 101 quoting log number LC-20150301-0942.