A man has been jailed stabbing a snake in the head with a screwdriver because it hissed at him.
Michael McCann, 36, was investigated by the RSPCA after a 3ft-long boa constrictor was found dead at a property for homeless residents in South Shields, Chronicle Live reports.
When questioned, McCann admitted to hitting the snake with a fire extinguisher before grabbing a tool to inflict more damage in May 2020.
He claimed that when leaving to go to the shop a day earlier, the reptile bit him in the porch.
RSPCA Inspector Rachael Hurst launched an investigation after being contacted about the incident at a multiple occupancy house for homeless residents in South Shields on May 28 2020.
Speaking at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, she said: “When I arrived at the property I was shown into the front porch by support workers and there was a snake in the corner which appeared deceased. There were also blood stains on the carpet.
“When I picked the snake up his jaw was embedded into the carpet which made it difficult to free. There was an open wound on the snake’s head and he appeared to be in poor body condition.”
After speaking to a number of staff and residents at the hostel, Inspector Hurst interviewed two men.
She added: “No one seemed to own the snake or knew where he had come from but they believed he had been posted through the letterbox.
“He had been in the porch for a few days and nobody had mentioned it or attempted to move him.
“When one of the residents was leaving to go to the shop, the snake apparently bit him on the leg.
“He said that the following day he passed the snake again and when he hissed at him he hit him with a fire extinguisher and stabbed him in the head with a screwdriver.
“I removed a screwdriver from the scene and took the snake to a nearby vet for an examination and post mortem.”
Vets established that the snake was in poor condition, underweight and showed evidence of poor skin shedding.
The RSPCA suspect the snake had either been neglected and then abandoned at the hostel or was an escaped pet that had been straying for some time.
Following the sentencing hearing, Inspector Hurst added: “This poor snake was already in a poor condition and was likely extremely frightened and confused.
"He needed help but, instead, was viciously attacked, seriously injured and left to die, as vets suspect, a long and slow death.
McCann was sentenced to 17 weeks in prison and was disqualified from keeping all animals for 10 years.
He was also ordered to pay a £128 victim surcharge.