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A 5ft (1.5m)-long snake called Allan was cut free from a car by firefighters after escaping from a container while its owners drove along a motorway.
The corn snake wriggled out of its vivarium as Ellie Bond and her partner drove from Nottingham to Oldham to visit family for Christmas.
After discovering he was missing, the pair searched the car and found him trapped in casing near the gear stick.
He was eventually freed by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Ms Bond, 25, said: “He’s quite chunky so he was properly trapped, and I was worried he would hurt himself trying to get free.
“We tried using butter to help lubricate the area but he still couldn’t move.
“It was also snowing so was very cold for him – which is also very dangerous for a snake – so I was scared he would die if we could not release him quickly.”
The couple called the RSPCA who requested help from the fire service.
Firefighters cut through a small piece of metal to get to the snake, while Ms Paxton-Taylor covered Allan with a towel to keep him safe.
RSPCA inspector Angela Paxton-Taylor said: “It was awkward as there was me and five firefighters in a Citroen C1 working hard to free Allan, but it worked.
“A few scales were missing and he was very cold but we were able to warm him up and he is doing well.”
Corn snakes, native to North America but kept as pets in the UK, are not venomous but can bite if stressed.
The RSPCA advises owners their environment must be kept at 20C or higher to keep them healthy.
Ms Bond said Allan has fully recovered from the ordeal and was now “back to his lazy self”.