WHEN seven-year-old Mia Chambers' pet corn snake escaped just days before she was going to bring it to school for 'show and tell' she was devastated.
But after 18 MONTHS on the loose, her slippery friend Corny turned up across the road in her neighbour's garden.
Mia and her mum Anita John, from Normanston Road, South Croydon, had given up all hope of finding Corny. But Anita was amazed when a friend contacted her to say she'd seen someone post that they'd found a snake on Facebook – and the person who found it lived just across the road.
"Mia was so devastated when it went missing," said Anita. "She even wrote a letter saying 'please come home Corny'. She was only little at the time.
"When we went round to see, it had the same red and black colours; we knew it was Corny as soon as Mia saw it."
Anita was amazed the little corn snake had survived the cold winter, especially as they're native to the warm south east of the USA, but Corny had learnt to cope with Croydon's harsh outdoors.
"It must have hibernated through the winter, but it was digesting a little mouse it had managed to catch," said Anita.
Mia became interested in snakes after a friend had one as a pet, and after various visits to zoos and pet shops, she kept pestering her mum for her own.
Anita said: "She saw the little baby ones and kept asking for one, but I said 'no way'. But in the end, I gave in. When she got it she used to hold it all the time.
"She wasn't afraid at all. She was so happy to have Corny back."
But Corny's return has come at a cost.
"I've only just sold the tank on eBay for £10," Anita explained.
"It cost me about ten times that!"