A 4ft-LONG snake rescued in Bury has been reunited with his owner — who lives 10 miles away.

The corn snake, aptly named Mysterious, disappeared from a flat in Heaton, Bolton, in mid March when his owner Stuart Smith was moving house.

The 27-year-old mechanic was left scratching his head when the non-venomous reptile went missing and thought he would never see his pet again.

But the Bury Times came to the rescue, as Stuart read an article about a corn snake being caught in the back of a van in Bury last week, after bosses of Bury Van Hire, based in Limefield Brow, called in reptile expert Crocodile Joe.

Crocodile Joe has now reunited Mysterious and Stuart, bringing an end to the three-week puzzle.

“The weirdest thing is that Mysterious has probably been living in this van for three weeks and lots of people will have hired it out without having the faintest idea,” said Mr Smith, who lives with his girlfriend Lorraine at their new house in Astley Bridge.

He added: “The snake went missing during the move.

“He had managed to rub his nose against the door of the vivarium and prise it open — then he went on an adventure.

“We turned the place upside down looking for him.

“We searched the flat we were leaving, the new house and the van, but had no luck and I thought that was the last we would see of him.

“The female snake he lives with has been acting very differently in the last few weeks and she is really relaxed now he is home.

“I’m just really glad – and thankful to Crocodile Joe for all his help.”

During the rescue, Crocodile Joe, who learned about snakes while living in Australia, coaxed Mysterious out of the van with a dead mouse.

Crocodile Joe said: “I’m delighted that we have got a happy ending.”