MORE than 770 calls about exotic animals were received by the RSPCA from Greater Manchester last year, new figures show.

The animal welfare charity has released its annual statistics, revealing the plight of the more unusual animals being kept as pets in the UK.

Members of the public in the county contacted the charity about an exotic animals 773 times in 2018. They carried out 228 rescues.

Nationally, the charity received a total of 15,790 calls about abandoned, stray, sick, suffering and neglected exotic reptiles, mammals, birds and fish, more than 40 a day, or more than one every hour.

Among the exotic animals the RSPCA was called about in Greater Manchester last year was a snake found inside an oven in Stockport.

The snake slithered into a home in Hazel Grove, giving a couple a fright when they went to put chips in the oven.

RSPCA inspector Andy Harris said: “When I arrived I expected to find a small corn snake but this snake was quite long - at least three foot. It was an African brown house snake, which is a non-venomous species, so I suspect that he is a pet that has been abandoned or escaped.

“It must have squeezed through a wall cavity of this couple’s home and there is a hole at the back of the oven where the gas jets come up so was probably attracted by the warmth. It was lucky the couple didn’t pre-heat the oven first.”

The snake was named Sammy by the specialist reptile keeper who adopted the reptile. The original owner of the snake has never been found.

Stephanie Jayson, RSPCA Senior Scientific Officer for exotics, said: “Although their numbers are small compared to more common pets, we have real concerns about the welfare of reptiles and other exotic animals kept as pets in this country.

“Reptiles and other exotic pets are completely reliant on their owners to meet their welfare needs including requiring the correct levels of heat, light and humidity, plus an appropriate diet.

"Many of the animals we’re called to help are found stray outside, where they can very quickly suffer in the cold."

The RSPCA say they rescued over 4,000 exotic animals in 2018, including more than 500 snakes, more than 300 turtles, 145 bearded dragons, five raccoon dogs and even four marmosets and one wallaby.

In Greater Manchester, officers rescued 228 exotic pets in 2018.

Last year, the RSPCA received 25,104 calls reporting cruelty, neglect, injury and suffering of all animals in Greater Manchester, including 7,300 about cats, 7,907 about dogs and 791 about horses.