A snake owner was kicked out of a supermarket in Beckenham after taking his pet python with him on a shopping trip.

Staff and customers were stunned when the man strolled into Waitrose on Southend Road with his Royal Python draped around his neck.

Anxious shoppers looked on in horror as he wandered the aisles for around 10 minutes before security and store management asked him to leave.

Rachel Davies, who lives nearby on Southend Road, was shopping at the supermarket on Saturday when she saw the snake enthusiast enter at around 7.30pm.

The 45-year-old said: “It was around his neck. He went inside and he was holding the head of the snake.

"People started looking, huddling into small groups and taking photos.

“He didn’t seem the least bit concerned.

“Some people were joking that he was off to the deli counter for his snake to choose a snack.”

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Waitrose, Southend Road, Beckenham (Photo: Google)

A Royal Python, also known as a Ball Python due to its tendency to curl up when it is frightened, is non-venomous and typically docile.

The African species can grow to 6ft long and feasts on small mammals like rats and mice.

Ms Davies, an Environment Agency worker, added: “Nobody was at risk but I think people were alarmed because nobody knows much about snakes.

“One lady with her baby was really concerned.”

A Waitrose spokesman confirmed the reptile owner was turned away from the Beckenham store.

He said: “With the exception of customers accompanied with their guide dogs and assistance dogs, we do not allow animals into our branches.”

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “Snakes are protected under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which means the owner has a 'duty of care' for the animal.

“Snakes are ectothermic animals, meaning they are reliant on the environment to warm up and cool down and must have access to a range of temperatures.


“Taking a snake outside would mean it is no longer in an appropriate, familiar and safe environment and could lead to it suffering from distress and health problems.

“The RSPCA recommends that you do not remove snakes from their enclosure for longer than 15 minutes at a time.”

Did you see the slippery customer causing a commotion in Waitrose on Saturday? Call the news desk on 01689 885726 or email harriet.collier@london.newsquest.co.uk.