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Sheppey carpenter finds snake hiding in roof during work on Master's House, Sheerness


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It's not the type of thing workmen normally expect to find while renovating a building.

But carpenter Tom Ratcliff stumbled on a snake hiding under roof tiles 21 feet (7m) high at the top of former council offices Master's House in Trinity Road, Sheerness.

Snake found in Master's House, Trinity Road, Sheerness, during renovation work. Picture: Swale council
Snake found in Master's House, Trinity Road, Sheerness, during renovation work. Picture: Swale council

He said: "I still can't imagine how he got there. He must have been picked up by a bird and then dropped. All the downpipes were blocked so he couldn't have climbed up any of those."

Tom, 36, from Warden Bay, admitted: "It's the weirdest thing I've ever found on a building site."

News of the strange discovery was announced on Swale council's Facebook page yesterday.

It said: "It's funny what you find when you start doing some some jobs around the house.

"The contractor carrying out the refurbishment of Master's House in Sheerness got a bit of a surprise when he started work in the roof area.

Sheppey carpenter Tom Ratcliff, 36, has given a home to an African corn snake found hiding in the roof of Master's House, Trinity Road, Sheerness
Sheppey carpenter Tom Ratcliff, 36, has given a home to an African corn snake found hiding in the roof of Master's House, Trinity Road, Sheerness

"So did this African corn snake which was living happily up there.

"We think it made it's way there after a fire at the pet shop a couple of years ago. It's been checked over and is happy and healthy."

It went on: "We've managed to find it a new home. We hope it enjoys it there as much as it did at Master's House."

Tom has since taken pity on the snake, which he has dubbed Bruno, and given it to his eight-year-old son Austin for a pet.

Tom first took the snake to Cuddles 'n' Bubbles pet shop in Sheerness Broadway which reopened in October after a fire gutted the premises in May 2020.

'My son has him in his bedroom'

He said: "They put him under a heat lamp for me and then my wife Vicki suggested we keep him. So I ended up buying a tank.

"He was only a hatchling, about four months old and one foot long, when the guys found him. He wasn't moving so I wound him round my hand and climbed down the scaffolding ladder with him.

"He's doubled in size since we've had him home and have been feeding him. My son has him in his bedroom and loves him."

Tom added: "We already had two dogs, two cats and a tortoise but I had no experience of looking after a snake before. But corn snakes are safe and not venomous."

Master's House is being renovated by Astral Building Contractors as part of a £1.3million Swale council scheme to turn it into a community and business hub.

Renovation work started on Master's House, Sheerness, in January as part of a £1.3m scheme to turn it into a community and business hub
Renovation work started on Master's House, Sheerness, in January as part of a £1.3m scheme to turn it into a community and business hub

It was previously used as offices by Sheerness Urban District Council, Swale Borough Council and, more recently, by Sheerness Town Council. The building dates back to 1894.

Reader Peter Whiting said: "These types of snakes originally come from Florida or Texas in the USA, not Africa. They can grow up to two metres (6ft) in length."

Also today, police impounded an 'alligator' found by a jogger on Sheppey.

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