Don’t panic ... but Skittles the snake has slithered off
A young Gozitan man is mounting a search for his three-year-old Brazilian Rainbow Boa after it went missing in Msida.
Named Skittles, the five-foot boa constrictor with a distinctive iridescent sheen, is very gentle and docile, according to its 21-year-old owner Stephan Mintoff.
Although the non-venomous snake went missing from his apartment in Triq Ta’ Xmiexi some two weeks ago, it was only yesterday that Mr Mintoff printed flyers and posted a Facebook comment asking for help from the public.
Despite making sure all the snake’s cubicle openings were closed after he cleaned it, Mr Mintoff believes Skittles escaped after some sand got stuck in the sliding doors of its compartment.
He immediately looked for her “all over the place” in his house and neighbourhood.
Since boas seek dark and humid places, Mr Mintoff appealed to Msida residents to look for the snake in bushes, cushion covers, bathrooms, behind the fridge, under sofas, in cupboards and garages.
But there was no need for panic. Skittles is “not aggressive at all, and is most probably too weak after two weeks missing”, according to its owner.
Skittles is “fully-legal” Mr Mintoff added, since she is not harmful and does not exceed the required length. He is willing to give a €50 reward for its return.
Anybody who is not scared of the snake is being asked by its owner to gently scoop it up from its belly and put it in a box. The reptile should not be touched from the top as it might become irritated, he added.
Luke Sultana, a veterinary surgeon with a special interest in exotic animals, confirmed the Brazilian Rainbow Boa was neither venomous nor aggressive.
However, he said the reptile should not be touched because it can still bite. Dr Sultana added that the snake had the potential to kill small animals, such as rabbits.
Veterinary doctor Trevor Zammit warned that each snake had its own character, irrespective of species.
“If you don’t know it, don’t touch it, and call the animal welfare officers. Nowadays, you wouldn’t even touch an abandoned bag you see on some pavement, for fear it might be dangerous, let alone an animal you can’t handle,” he said.
Dr Zammit said this was not the first snake to go missing in Malta, and the police were in the past called in after even larger snakes were sighted.
Anyone who comes across the boa is being asked to contact Mr Mintoff immediately on 7931 8517 or e-mail [email protected]m.