A woman got the “fright of her life” when she woke up to find a 3ft snake snuggled up next to her in bed.
The royal python, believed to be an escaped pet, had curled up next to her as she slept.
After jumping out of bed she rushed out of her bedroom and closed the door before calling the RSPCA for help on Monday morning.
However, by the time the charity’s animal collection officer Jill Sanders had arrived at her flat in Kensington, west London, the snake had slithered away and could not be found.
Ms Sanders said: “The poor resident must have had the fright of their life waking up to a snake in their bed.
“They jumped out of bed and closed their bedroom door to contain the snake but, when I arrived, I couldn’t find where the python had slithered to.
“I left my details and told them to contact me as soon as they saw it again.”
The python was eventually caught by Ms Sanders in a corridor the following evening when she was called back to the flat.
The RSPCA does not know how it got inside the property, but believes it must have escaped from its owner nearby.
The animal welfare charity says it collects more snakes in the summer as they have more energy in the warm weather and are good escape artists.
Ms Sanders added: “I’ve been called out to a number of stray snakes in recent weeks and many of these appear to be escaped pets.
“We would always recommend owners invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and that the enclosure is kept secure, and locked if necessary, when unattended.
“Reptiles, particularly snakes, can be extremely good escape artists and will take the opportunity of a gap in an enclosure door, or a loose-fitting lid.”