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A python is shown in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, August 10, 2015.HO/The Canadian Press

A python spotted in a Metro Vancouver conservation area is a long way from its native African home.

City of Burnaby staff saw the snake curled up on a road on Burnaby Mountain near Simon Fraser University around noon on Monday, said Dave Ellenwood, the city's director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural.

Not knowing whether the unusual brown and black reptile was native to the area, workers snapped a picture and took it to a local group that rescues wild animals, which determined the snake is definitely not from B.C.

In fact, the snake — which was less than a metre long — is a ball python, a nonvenomous constrictor.

"What we generally do is we try and consult people who know more than we do about these sort of things," Ellenwood explained. "And that's when they got the information that it was an exotic pet. They speculate that somebody probably dumped it in the park."

Staff returned to the park to capture the snake, but it had slithered into the bushes and couldn't be found.

It's rare that the Burnaby staff see such pets in parks, but it has happened before, Ellenwood says.

"Irresponsible people will think it's a good idea to take an exotic pet and dump it off in an open space, a green space, thinking it would be better off for it."

Abandoned pets are an ongoing problem for animal welfare organizations, but exotic pets such as snakes come with their own issues, says Yolanda Brooks, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Rescue Association.

"They obviously get too big for a person or they live for a long time and then they just send them to the habitat that they think will be good for them," she said.

"Just chucking it out and hoping it will fend for itself is not good for the native species, it's not good for your pet."

People should think carefully about owning exotic pets such as pythons because they take a lot of specialized care, Brooks added.

"While owning a dog or a cat is a big commitment, having an exotic pet is an even bigger commitment."

The python likely won't survive very long on Burnaby Mountain because of the cold weather, terrain and predators, Brooks said.

However she said the snake could also present problems for some native animals while it's around.

Ellenwood said staff from both the Burnaby SPCA and the city continued to look for the python Tuesday, and warned park users to keep an eye out for the stealthy reptile.