A BAFFLED dad noticed some scaly bulges in his Christmas wreath and was horrified to discover it contained a dead snake.
Karl Gaskell, 43, and his wife Nicki, 40, bought the natural decoration – made from branches and tightly bound straw – from a supermarket to hang on their front door.
When dad-of-two Karl noticed a funny smell he cut open the £12 Co-op Christmas decoration and made the horrifying discovery.
Industrial chemist Karl, from Castletown on the Isle of Man, said: "The smell was so bad. The smell lingered for days.
"I don't know what compelled me to put my nose up to the wreath after I spotted these strange grey scales, but I did.
"You could tell it was some kind of dead animal – a reptile, not a mammal.
"And for a moment, I panicked because I thought – 'what if it was from China?'.
"I suddenly thought if it had come from Asia somehow, poisonous snakes remain poisonous long after they've died.
"So I had it checked out by the Natural History Museum, who got straight back to me.
"We were just super unlucky I think, because it was the first wreath we'd bought ever.
"It's really put us off getting one again this Christmas."
Karl, Nicki, and their daughters Aemilia, 11, and Claudia, eight, have vowed never to get another Christmas wreath again.
Karl's email to the Natural History Museum, dated December 12, says: "The specimen in your photos is a dead grass snake, Natrix natrix.
"They do hibernate in straw piles and I see fresh cereal straw in your photo.
"You may find sources calling the British grass snakes Natrix helvetica, after a recent split (2017)."
He complained to the Co-op and they apologised via email.
HISS AND MAKE UP
The reply said: "We take any complaints like this very seriously and will be talking to our supplier to find out how this has happened.
"I can only imagine how upset you must have felt and I really am sorry.
"We want our products to be the best they can be and for you to find what you did is not good enough.
"We will refer this to our suppliers and also make our technical team aware.
"However can I ask if you still have any packaging the receipt for this item. We need some product details.
"Once again, I am so sorry for what happened, in the meantime, if I can do anything else to help, please let me know."
A spokesperson for Co-op said: "We would like to offer our apologies to our customer who, like ourselves, will have been shocked.
We go to great lengths to ensure the quality and safety of our products, and this is not something we have previously experienced.
"We are keen for our customer to get in touch so that we can say sorry, and fully investigate this with our supplier."
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