An ornament left police and residents confused in a hiss-terical case of mistaken identity.

Police were called at 6.36am this morning by the RSPCA after a member of the public said a snake had been spotted near local schools around the junction of Carshalton Road and Shorts Road Carshalton.

Officers spotted the 'snake' in a garden patio, but decided to keep their distance, advancing to within a couple of metres of the reptile, which appeared to blend with the colour of its surrounds almost, as a police spokesman said, "as if for its own protection."

One of the officers said: "It wasn't moving but they can stay still for a long time.

"We didn't want to move in too close in case we disturbed it."

Officers then went to the nearby flats where a resident revealed the snake was in fact a garden ornament.

Talk about a case of hiss-taken identity.