Warren F. O'Rourke
Last Updated on October 12, 2011
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The python has, and I fib no fibs,
Three hundred eighteen pairs of ribs.
In stating this I place reliance
On a seance with one who died for science.
This figure is sworn to and attested.
He counted them while being digested!
-- Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971)
Ogden Nash's funny little poem about a guy who was eaten by a python seems irreverent and flippant when we remember that pythons actually do kill humans from time to time. In 1993 a big Burmese python strangled his 15-year-old owner in Commerce City, Colorado; in 1996 a Burmese python strangled his 19-year-old owner in the Bronx borough of New York City; in 2010 a Burmese python killed a two-year-old toddler in Sumter County, Florida. (There are more examples from 2008 and earlier that you can read about near the end of this page.) Yes, from time to time, all around the world one finds similar examples. Recently, an assistant zookeeper in Caracas, Venezuela, was killed by a Burmese python at the main zoo in Caracas; and just a few months ago an eight-year-old Kenyan boy was killed and eaten by a big reticulated python. Recently a 69-year-old Vietnamese man from Hanoi was fatally strangled by his 45-pound pet python. Clearly big pythons (or anacondas or boa constrictors) are not animals to be careless around.
There are also stories here that strongly imply that the same people who are raising giant constrictor snakes are very often the same people who are dealing in drugs like cocaine and meth.
And, for the conspiracy theorists, there is the whacky story from the last years of the Vietnam War that says the CIA released the pythons in Florida after an unsuccessful black op called "Project Squeezer." According to this theory, the CIA was trying to train large Burmese pythons to swallow pig carcasses containing C-4 time bombs. If such booby-trapped Burms were released in the jungles they would likely crawl into Viet Cong tunnel complexes and a day or so later blow the complex up. U.S. Army brass rejected the project as being "nuts," so the CIA was stuck with a couple of hundred large Burmese pythons. The spooks made a botched effort to release the snakes into the sugar cane fields of Cuba, but ended up turning them loose in Everglades.
Another more serious theory is that hundreds of pythons escaped into the wilds of South Florida when Hurricane Andrew destroyed the facilities of several dealers in exotic reptiles.
And, of course, private owners of such large snakes get tired of caring for the monsters which can live for 25 years or longer, so they just release them in the nearest swamp. And sometimes the snakes escape on their own.
Whatever the case, the big constrictors are now appearing all over the place and people are having surprise encounters with pythons, boa constrictors, and anacondas. Most encounters with big constrictor snakes in the U.S., however, are more scary than deadly. And they are still not an everyday occurrence. If you live almost anywhere in the United States, even in Alabama or as far north as Rumford (Maine), your chances of encountering a python or a boa constrictor or an anaconda lurking in your back yard or hiding in your car or snoozing in your kitchen cabinet or wrapped around your hot water heater or hiding in your toilet where the serpent could bite your behind are not very large yet, but the odds of such things happening are getting better all the time. More and more often these days news and Internet stories appear about humans having startling "close encounters" with large constrictors, about pet constrictors escaping or being released into the wild, about re-capturing the escaped snakes, about governmental and other efforts to influence the discussion about private ownership of the giant constrictors, and about how to control the growing problem of such monstrous serpents breeding in the wilds. Here are some summaries of recent news articles and Internet articles. The stories with Alabama connections are usually printed in green.
On this site you will find a link to my page about human-alligator encounters.
EVENTS IN 2010 AND 2011
April 18, 2011 -- A Kansas police officer is being hailed a hero for freeing an albino python from the neck of its owner. The owner, Chrystal Wilson, was treated at the hospital for piercings to her neck and released. The incident happened earlier this week at her home in the 600 block of Grand in Lyons in Rice County. Police say her albino python latched onto her neck when she took it out of its cage to feed it. Her children called 911 for help. Officer Max Bryant responded to the call. He was shocked to see the eight-foot python latched to her neck, but he quickly took the snake by its jaws, slowly prying it from her neck. While the City of Lyons is calling him a hero, honoring him for his bravery, Officer Bryant says he was just doing his job. The snake is now with a friend because police are concerned for the safety of her children. Wilson is also being cited for harboring a vicious animal.
April 17, 2011 -- Ornithologist Carla Dove, the Director of the Feather Identification Unit of the Smithsonian Institution, published her research on the bird remains found in the stomachs of 86 Burmese pythons captured in the Florida Everglades during January of 2011. The birds she identified ranged from 8-inch-long grebes to 3-foot-long Florida wood storks. Dove said that Burmese pythons are drastically altering the ecosystem of South Florida.
March 30, 2011 -- Rosemarie Pirrelli of Pompano Beach (Florida) wrote a letter to the editor of the Sun-Sentinel newspaper complaining that Florida Wildlife Commission officials are doing too little to solve the problem of ecosystem destruction by Burmese pythons in the Everglades. In her letter she alluded to the fact that the unusually cold weather and droughts of the winter of 2010-2011 had done little or nothing to reduce the breeding population of Burmese pythons in South Florida.
September 15, 2010 -- Dan Chauvin, the animal control officer for Northbridge (Massachusetts), got called to a residence where a four-foot python had wrapped itself around the engine of a car. Chauvin said the snake was just trying to find a warm place. No one in the area admitted ownership of the snake, so Chauvin turned the snake over to the reptile expert at a local Petco. If no one claims the snake, it eventually will be sold.
September 6, 2010 -- According to a website posted in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma) and accessed on this date, pet-grade ball pythons are readily available all over Oklahoma. The typical price per snake is about $150. By comparison, the same pet stores will sell you Maltese Terrier or Toy Poodle pups for about $800 apiece.
September 6, 2010 -- Lula Sain of Forrest City (Arkansas) opened her kitchen cabinet to find a plastic bag. What she found instead was a three-foot-long ball python. Miss Lula got a broom and swept the snake onto her kitchen floor and then called the fire department. The firefighters removed the snake from her residence, but they didn't know what to do with it. The snake had apparently escaped from another residence in the neighborhood, but no one in the area admitted to being the owner of the python. So they gave the python to the son of one of the firefighters to keep as a pet. (As you will see from several of the entries below, ball pythons are master escape artists.)
September 5, 2010 -- Title 18 of the United States Code is the section of the federal legal code which lists federal crimes. As of this date similar bills to amend Title 18 (H.R. 2811 and S. 373) are very slowly inching their way through the House and the Senate. The bills propose adding Burmese pythons and other constrictor snakes to the Title 18 list of "injurious" animals and plants which may not be imported into the United States and which may not be used in any manner in interstate commercial enterprises. Both bills have been reported out of committee but as yet have not been scheduled for debate by the full House and the full Senate. Groups which advocate or oppose the bills continue to lobby individual Senators and Representatives to bring the bills up for debate (they are the advocates) or to prevent the bills from coming up for debate (they are the opponents).
September 5, 2010 -- Here's the text from a current internet ad from a Jefferson County (Alabama) company that opposes the bills in the entry above for September 6, 2010, and which is trying to raise funds to support USARK (United States Association of Reptile Keepers), the main organization that lobbies against the bills:
Dixie Pythons and Boas
We are located in McCalla (Alabama) and are owned and operated by Will and Angie Pridmore. We are proud to produce and sell quality animals, for pets or breeding, and customer service that will exceed your expectations. We are currently working with Ball Pythons, Burmese Pythons, and Boas. Thank you for visiting our site and check out the available link before you leave. We will update it periodically with animals that become available. Please inquire if you have any questions or don't see something you are looking for. You can visit us in person at the West Alabama Reptile Expo located at the Bessemer Civic Center, Bessemer (Alabama).
ATTENTION VENDORS: A portion of ALL vendor table fees will be donated from each show to USARK. Join us in supporting one of the organizations that fights for OUR rights to enjoy these wonderful animals!!!
If you are getting bored with pythons, remember that
really big gators wander around in South Alabama.
September 2, 2010 -- Singapore is one of the richest and most developed cities in the world, but the people there are beginning to have python sightings in their urban areas. In the past few weeks there have been three very large pythons found in the city. All of the three were over ten feet long and were found inside of or very near residences. One was found on the deck of a second-floor apartment. The people in Singapore are starting to get very nervous. (The U.S. is not the only place where huge pythons are being spotted in places where the snakes haven't been seen before. Australia also has seen a big increase in the number of human-python encounters.)
August 26, 2010 -- Firefighters in Thousand Oaks (California) were called to condominium complex where they found and captured an eight and a half foot albino Burmese python in the shrubbery beside one of the condos. Nobody has reported a missing snake like that.
August 26, 2010 -- A Sebastian (Florida) woman was hospitalized after being bitten by her son's 12-foot pet albino Burmese python. Since it has been illegal since July 1, 2010, for individuals in Florida to own pythons, Florida Wildlife Commision officers confiscated the snake.
July 29, 2009 -- Police in Wales announced that the ball python mentioned in the entry below for July 23, 2009, is still on the loose.
July 27, 2010 -- On page 2-A of The Birmingham (Alabama) News is a short article which explains that most of Alabama is a suitable habitat for one or more species of the big constrictor snakes like those currently annoying people and disturbing the ecosystem in South Florida. July 26, 2010 -- A Covina (California) man shopping in a large discount store was paged on the store intercom and told to return to his PT Cruiser. A crowd had gathered by his car because they saw a seven-foot boa constrictor crawl under the car. The man opened his engine compartment and found the big snake. He started the car in hopes that the snake would leave, but it didn't. Police advised him to drive home and wait for animal control officers to remove the snake. The police followed him home; but when they arrived there, no trace of the snake was found.
July 23, 2010 -- The U.S. is not alone in the problem of escaping constrictors. A 4-foot Royal Python (known in the U.S. as a ball python, a species noted for its ability to escape captivity) that got loose in Wales (Great Britain) is proving to be a slippery fugitive, eluding a hunt in Tycroes, near Ammanford, led by reptile expert Geraint "the Snakeman" Hopkins. Hopkins has said that such a "small" snake won't be able to eat small children but can deliver very painful and damaging "small bites." Hopkins has been trying to find the snake for four weeks.
July 21, 2010 -- According to The New York Post, a five-foot-long python was found and captured at a New York City gas station. The snake was spotted near some garbage at the East 161st Street business in the Melrose section of The Bronx on Tuesday. Police were able to get it into a box. The snake will be checked over at an East Harlem Animal Shelter and then taken to a habitat facility far from The Bronx. Authorities believe the snake is an abandoned pet.
July 19, 2010 -- The 57-year-old Over-The-Line San Diego (California) beach baseball tournament officials announced new rules for competitors and spectators this year. Among those new rules was a ban on boa constrictors and other large snakes. It seems that a lot of the beach folk in Southern California like to drape big constrictor snakes around their neck and shoulders and then go strolling on the beach and scaring the crap out of other beach patrons.
July 16, 2010 -- As of today, the new anti-constrictor law in Florida has gone into effect. No Floridian can own pythons, anacondas, or boas unless he or she is licensed to deal in such snakes commercially. That does not, however, cure the problem. There are still thousands of potentially giant constrictors in the Everglades and the greater Miami area. And all over the U.S. we continue to hear reports of such snakes escaping or being released into the wild. One source says that the sale and importation of snakes is a 3 billion dollar a year industry, and of course all we good captialists don't want to interfere with free trade.
July 15, 2010 -- A Short History of Celebrity, a newly released book by Fred Inglis, reports that during her acting career between the 1860's and 1915 the extremely famous actress Sarah Bernhardt usually took her pet reptiles with her on tours. She usually travelled with an alligator and a python.
July 14, 2010 -- Some invasive Florida Burmese pythons have high levels of mercury, enough to merit concern from anyone interested in hunting them to eat, according to preliminary research by USGS researchers. Pythons are at the top of the food chain -- they eat over 35 different species of mammals and birds, some of which are endangered and even alligators. As predators, these pythons are at a higher risk of mercury bioaccumulation because mercury builds up in organisms higher on the food web. One possible strategy to reduce the population of invasive pythons is to allow hunting; however, if the mercury content of the pythons is too high, the flesh of the pythons could present an unsafe level of mercury exposure to those humans who consume it. So far, the USGS Mercury Research Laboratory has analyzed over 50 python tail-tissue samples, with about equal numbers of adults and hatchlings. These results show that on average, tissue from the adults contained high levels of mercury, and the hatchlings were on average 22 times higher (!) in mercury levels than their mother. An additional 100 samples are scheduled for further examination. This study, Mercury Bioaccumulation in Everglades Pythons, will be presented on July 15 at the 2010 USGS convention.
July 14, 2010 -- Barbara Smoyer Park in Princeton (New Jersey) has a ten-foot constrictor living in the reeds and grass at the edge of the park pond. Park patrons have spotted the giant snake several times, but animal control has not been able to absolutely identify or capture and relocate what they believe is either a python or a boa constrictor. Police have issued the usual warnings about the danger to small pets and small children.
July 14, 2010 -- Remember Mickey "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees" Dolenz? Well, he just joined the cast of the Syfy gator versus python movie mentioned in an entry for June 24, 2010..
July 9, 2010 -- Today the Danville (Virginia) Police Department issued a public safety warning. A five-foot-long boa constrictor has escaped from its owner's car. According to the police, this snake poses a threat to cats, dogs, and very small children.
July 8, 2010 -- Interfax, a Russian News Agency, reports that motorists stalled in a traffic jam in Samara (Russia), a city south of Moscow on the Volga River, watched in astonishment as a six-and-a-half-foot python slithered into the road and climbed into one of the waiting cars. Officials from a nearby zoo captured the python, which had escaped from a private residence.
June 24, 2010 -- The Syfy Network will soon start shooting a movie entitled Mega-Python vs. the Gatoroid. The made-for-tv film is set in the Everglades and deals with the struggles of alligators versus invasive Burmese pythons.
June 23, 2010 -- Ferguson Township (Pennsylvania) has a ten foot python on the loose. The pet snake escaped from an outdoor enclosure in the driveway of a residence in the township, which is located near Penn State University. Local police have not heard any reports of python sightings but have warned residents to keep windows and doors closed and keep small pets indoors. A ten-foot python is a really big snake.
June 17, 2010 -- Chapel Hill (North Carolina) mail carriers are worried about encountering pythons or boa constrictors after one mail carrier found a four-foot-long snake skin which was obviously shed by a critter at least four feet long. A professional herpetologist examined photos of the snake skin and identified it as having come from either a boa or a python.
June 15, 2010 -- While in Africa for the 2010 World Cup, British royal princes Harry and William were handling a nine-foot-long rock python at a herpetology center in Botswana when the big snake peed all over the place.
June 14,2010 -- An exotic and expensive python was found living the good life on the seventh floor of a luxury Darwin (Australia) vacation condominium. The black-headed python was discovered by staff in the bathroom of the Harbour Lights Condominium. (Condo records show that the apartment was last rented to a group of wildlife photographers.) A local expert says the snake is worth up to $1200. Animal rescue was called to retrieve the animal from the bathroom. However, this is not the first time a snake has mysteriously appeared in a Darwin building. Two years ago a similar black-headed python was captured in the 10th floor of a ritzy Cullen Bay condominium building. It was believed to have travelled to the tenth floor through the building's plumbing pipes.
If you aren't interested in pythons and alligators, don't
forget that Alabama has lots of rattlers like these guys.
June 11, 2010 -- A couple of days ago actress Salma Hayek and her costars from the up-coming movie Grownups were shooting a promotional interview near Malibu when a large python "with his mouth open" crawled onto the set. Hayek freaked out and climbed in her chair and then on top of one of her costars. The reports don't say how a python managed to visit the set. And, of course, there is the irony of Salma's sexy python dance in the 1996 George Clooney and Quentin Tarentino vampire flick From Dust Til Dawn as depicted in the image to the right. How could Salma who danced so calmly with a ten-foot-long albino python in 1996 go absolutely bonkers in 2010 when a python slithers by?
June 11, 2010 -- An Omaha (Nebraska) man is dead after being strangled by his 25-pound, nine-foot-long pet red-tail boa constrictor. The snake owner was showing off his boa to a friend when Mr. Boa suddenly decided to wrap himself around his owner's neck and start squeezing. One police official said that the friend did not know how to come to the aid of the snake owner.
June 10, 2010 -- Ball pythons, such as the one depicted to the right, are a very popular pet grade constrictor snake, but the little devils are most expert at escaping and then hiding after having escaped. For example, a few days ago in Blackburn (England) the Howarth family's four foot long pet ball python escaped. Ms. Howarth advertised in the local newspaper for five days. Her ads alarmed several old ladies in her neighbourhood, but no info came about the whereabouts of her snake. But someone suggested she look under the floorboards of her house. She did. Her little python Irwin had been hiding right beneath her feet for five days. From the picture, you can see that Ms. Howarth's reunion with Irwin was a joyous occasion.
June 9, 2010 -- A DeLand (Florida) pet store was burglarized. The burglars took $300 in cash and eight exotic constrictors. The stolen snakes, a red tail boa constrictor and seven ball pythons, were valued at $30,000. Five of the pythons were pregnant females with up to 30 eggs each.
June 6, 2010 -- Now there's a new invasive species worrying reptile experts and conservationists in South Florida. It's the Brazilian tegu lizard, a carnivorous reptile that is anywhere from four to six feet long as an adult, and is apparently breeding in the Everglades area. Notice that the tegu in the picture at the right has a forked tongue about nine or ten inches long. They are not much of a threat to humans, although they can inflict painful bites and can put gashes in human flesh by whipping with their tails. However, the big problem with tegus is that they eat almost any small animal, especially animals that burrow in the ground. Let enough tegus loose and the ecological balance will change swiftly as the lizards wipe out the small animals that many native species require for food. If predictions about global warming are accurate there will be ever more areas where this critter can live. Furthermore, another worry is that these creatures can live in other environments than tropical South Florida since they can hibernate in burrows during cold weather. Newly born tegus are prey for eagles, hawks, and a few other predators; however, there are few predators other than large alligators or perhaps mountain lions that could prey on adult tegus. In other words, these guys could spread rapidly all over the southern and south-western United States
June 1, 2010 -- When an Australian grandfather asked his daughter for a picture of his four-month-old grand-daughter, he received the picture to the right. His precious little Lily being cuddled by a thirteeen foot long python!!!!! Grandpa's daughter and son-in-law are both employees of a large Australian zoo, actually the zoo founded by the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter; however, Lily's parents are no weirder than thousands of American python lovers.
June 1, 2010 -- Florida governor Charlie Crist signed a new law prohibiting private ownership of large and dangerous constrictor snakes such as Burmese and African rock pythons as well as dangerous lizards such as Nile monitors and South American tegu lizards.
May 30, 2010 -- A Lakeville (Massachusetts) animal control officer failed to capture a ten-foot long giant constrictor snake, perhaps a boa or perhaps a python. A homeowner reported the snake when what she thought was an abandoned truck tire uncoiled and started slithering across the back yard of her home on Main Street. The snake is still on the loose.
May 27, 2010 -- A 56-year-old woman heard her Australian Silky Terrier yelping in distress. The lady ran into her back yard where an 8-foot python was wrapping itself around the dog. The woman attacked the python and unwrapped the dog. Immediately her husband and son captured the python.
May 25, 2010 -- A Mason City (Iowa) man was fined $69 and court costs for allowing his five-and-a-half foot long python to roam on the loose in the Holiday Inn where he was staying. A hotel spokesman said that guests in the hotel who encountered the snake in the hallways were "very upset." The snake owner told the Mason City Municipal court judge that he was "very sorry" that his snake got loose in the first place.
May 21, 2010 -- The monthly Dixie Reptile Show used to be held in the student center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, a.k.a. UAB. It moved in February 2010 to the Zamora Shrine Temple in Irondale (Alabama). If you are interested in seeing and/or buying pythons, boas, and anacondas, as well as many other exotic reptiles, here is the schedule at Zamora for the next eight months. May 29, June 19, July 24, August 7, September 18, October 30, November 20, and December 18.
May 21, 2010 -- Classified ads abound on the Internet. Here are a few currently running ads dealing with constrictors from Angola(Indiana) to Englewood (Florida) to Birmingham and Hueytown and Moody and Alabaster(Alabama). Click on the links below to see these ads. Besides the painfully obvious lack of spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills, what is your conclusion about what these ads reveal?
Classified Ad #1
Classified Ad #2
Classified Ad #3
Classified Ad #4
Classified Ad #5
Classified Ad #6
Classified Ad #7
Classified Ad #8
May 21, 2010 -- Robert Russell, president of the Florida Trapper's Association, said he recently has gotten more calls about larger snakes in the Trenton (Florida) area. Based on markings left at a location near Trenton, it appears there may be an exotic snake, perhaps a python, on the loose, Russell said about one call he received. The "slide path" from the snake showed it could be 15 to 18 feet long.
May 21, 2010 -- According to a South Carolina newspaper's on-line edition, the Rock City (South Carolina) python incident reported below (see below at April 15, 2010) has made its way into the courts.
The snake-as-a-weapon assault case that brought global attention to Rock Hill won't be resolved for at least another month. Tony Smith, 29, accused of using the four-foot-long python to attack another Rock Hill man, pleaded innocent Thursday in Rock Hill Municipal Court to an assault and battery charge related to the alleged April 13 snake attack on Jeffrey Culp. Smith asked the judge for a jury trial and a court-appointed attorney. Culp, who has a self-described fear of reptiles, told police he was attacked by a neighbor at the Executive Inn in Rock Hill. After Thursday's hearing, Culp said he was disappointed not to have a resolution to the case. "All he has to do is write me an apology letter and I'd drop the charges," Culp said.
Police charged Smith with misdemeanor assault after finding Smith still carrying the snake at the North Anderson Road hotel. Culp said he had asked Smith to be quiet earlier that night. Then Smith tapped him on the shoulder and put the snake, Moudkaii, in his face, he said. Smith squeezed the snake's mouth open so the teeth were showing, Culp said, and the snake bit his face. Nevertheless Smith, who faces 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted, said the snake never touched Culp.
"If that snake had bit him where (Culp) said it bit him, it would have been a whole lot worse," Smith told The Herald last month. "The snake has about 100 teeth."
Smith was pet-sitting for a friend at the time of the altercation. The pet's owner, Tim Villejoin, said the snake is gentle and has never lashed out at anyone. Smith's trial in front of six jurors hasn't been scheduled.
May 20, 2010 -- The president of Stetson University in Deland (Florida) announced that she has approved plans for one of the student dorms to allow students to house cats and dogs under 30 pounds in their dorm rooms. Madam President says that snakes and other reptiles will be eligible to live in the dorm in the near future.
May 19, 2010 -- I'll bet you didn't know that a top of the line Queen Anne style reptile cage is available on-line from Cages by Design for about $4500. I guess it's drug dealers and Mafia dons and Russian hoodlums and Colombian drug lords and Hollywood bad boys and girls who buy stuff like this.
May 20, 2010 -- Here's a recent incident from Fairmont (West Virginia).
When Animal Kingdom owner Mike Marino received a call from the Fairmont Police telling him that one of his large snakes had gotten loose and was found roaming around behind his East Side business Tuesday night, he had a hard time believing it. "People know I have large snakes; I just couldn't believe mine had gotten loose," Marino said Wednesday. "I had them all locked up. I wouldn't lose snakes; they are a couple of grand a piece. A lock costs $5, but a snake costs a lot more."
As it turned out, the 8- to 10-foot female Burmese python that was found outside the store at around 8:45 that night was not a resident of Marino's store, but a drop-off that had been trapped inside of a tank near the dumpster for several days. "We didn't know it was a snake," Marino said of he and his son, Logan, noticing the tank beside the dumpster about three days ago. "It looked like someone put it in a fish tank, an aquarium, and put it where someone would put trash, probably to be inconspicuous so they wouldn't be seen," he said. "They probably did that to avoid the cameras."
Upon breaking open the lock that had been keeping her inside the tank, the snake managed to get out and slither away, warranting nearby residents to call the police upon seeing her along the street. "Initially, someone first found it lying in the road. Someone backed out of their driveway and almost ran over it," Fairmont Sgt. Matt Pigott said of officers finding the snake. "It was not aggressive, not attacking, but it's kind of intimidating when there is an 8-foot snake in the area."
Pigott said that because the snake was so large it took several officers to physically put it back in the cage. And while the situation was handled well by police and did not result in anyone being hurt, Pigott said that there is potential for dangerous circumstances when animals are dropped off like this. He encouraged people who have an animal they do not want to make arrangements so that there are not large snakes running loose in neighborhoods. "It can create a dangerous situation for a neighborhood," he said. "It could be dangerous if it's on the loose, just by nature."
Logan said Wednesday that the snake, who is now being well-cared-for inside the Animal Kingdom store, was big enough that she could have attacked a small dog or child if she had been left out roaming. He also said that she has not yet been officially named.
Marino said that she was found malnourished and was acting rather "grumpy" Wednesday, which he said she has a right to be considering how undernourished she is for her size. He said that he will now keep the snake in the pet store in a comfortable enclosure more suited for her size, as the tank she was found in was too small, and nursed back to a healthy weight. Marino also expressed how upset he was with the way the snake was left outside of his store. "The snake was in the tank for three days, during rain and the cold; that's unacceptable to me," he said. "That's animal cruelty. You might as well take and beat the animal." Marino said that as the owner of a pet store, he has a passion for helping animals and will take care of any animal that someone cannot take proper care of. "If people have these animals they can't take care of, call me personally, do something to make these animals comfortable, rather than putting them out in the rain and the thunder," he said. "The snake could have gotten hit by a car and killed out in front of the store. That's no different than a dog. It's abuse the same as if it was a dog or cat."
Marino said that he does not plan on looking to press charges in the incident, that he just wants to take care of the snake. "Our goal is not to press charges, not to find out who and why, our goal now is to take care of the snake and make it comfortable," he said. Pigott said that he does not believe there is enough information to pursue charges in the incident at this time, as there is no information to follow up on to find out who dropped off the snake. But if more information comes to light, the police will follow up to find out if there are any charges they can press, he said. Marino said that anyone who has an animal that cannot be taken care of in the future is encouraged to call the store at 304-366-4366, and he will take it.
May 19, 2010 -- Classified ads by people trying to sell pythons are all over the place on the internet. For example, Alex from Chicago has been trying for a month to sell his five foot Burmese python and his four foot albino Burmese python along with the 55 gallon aquarium he keeps them in. The snakes are getting too big for the tank. (If he doesn't sell them soon they will be able to escape from the aquarium or maybe he will release them into the wild. After all, a 55-gallon tank is only four feet wide, a little over a foot deep, and a little over two feet high. It was big enough for the snakes when they were newly hatched, but is already too small for the five-foot long Burmese python. Alex's neighbors need to be on the alert for python sightings!)
May 17, 2010 -- Sara Foss, a columnist for the online edition of the Schenectady (New Yok) daily newspaper reminisces about taking her pet cat to an animal blessing ceremony held in Birmingham (Alabama) a few years ago. Her cat was traumatized by the horde of dogs at the event and Foss was pretty shaken by being in line near "a weirdo with a boa constrictor draped around his neck."
May 16, 2010 -- The five-foot boa captured a couple of days ago on a TVA walking trail in North Alabama is now living in a storage shed at an animal shelter in Florence (Alabama). Here on the right you can see him wrapped around a secretary's chair in the storage shed. It's hard to believe that snake is only five feet long. Using the chair for comparison, the snake seems more like six or six and a half feet long. Also the snake is clearly a red-tail boa constrictor. (See May 14, 2010 below.) May 15, 2010 -- When Shillington (Pennsylvania) Police Chief Corey Yochimowitz attended the borough council meeting last week about prohibiting dogs at the Greater Mifflin Community Days, Yochimowitz rose and requested that the council expand its prohibition to animals of any kind. "We've had people showing up with boa constrictors wrapped around their necks," he told the council. "It's something that our officers have encountered and I would like to see the ordinance not allow animals of any kind at Community Days."
May 15, 2010 -- Anaconda is a word that means "water boa constrictor." That huge South American snake is an ambush predator who swims like a fish and surprises his prey by swimming underneath his target and then suddenly attacking. In the picture to the right, Jesus Rivas, a community college biology instructor from Kentucky, is pictured with an anaconda that is approximately fourteen feet long and well over 150 pounds. Rivas caught the anaconda while working on a National Geographic television special in remote parts of Brazil. He managed to ship the snake by plane back to Kentucky.
May 14, 2010 -- The website of WAAY-TV (Huntsville, Alabama) reports on the capture of a boa constrictor about five feet long. A couple hiking along one of the TVA walking trails alerted the authorities who identified the forty pound snake as a red tail boa constrictor and captured it. The snake was taken to the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter. (See above.) May 14, 2010 -- Milwaukee (Wisconsin) police officers investigating a sexual assault complaint stumbled onto a crime scene literally crawling with reptiles including alligators and boa constrictors as well as smaller snakes, large spiders, and a chicken. Five of the boa constrictors found in a large storage building doubling as a residence were over 20 feet long. Altogether there were several hundred reptiles in the building, many of them uncaged and roaming about. Police, zoo officials, and animal control officers spent at least two days securig and removing the animals. A 50-year-old woman was arrested at the scene.
May 13, 2010 -- Pop singer and playgirl Britney Spears recently made a seven foot long albino python a part of her act. (See photo at the right.) The albino python is white with pale yellow markings. It was a snake very much like this one that killed a two-year-old toddler in Florida.
May 11, 2010 -- Pythons and boas are now so common in the U.S. that recipes for how to prepare such snakes as food are commonplace on the internet. Below is one example. Be careful, however. The big constrictors in South Florida are often contaminated with mercury.SNAKE EATERS STEW Gather and dice (cut up) vegetables of taste or those locally available. Capture one boa (or snake of choice). Remove head, skin and organs. Dice meat. Size of it determines number you will need as well as number of guests and size of pot, drum (i.e. cooking container). Amount of vegetables should equal amount of meat. Add water enough to just cover ingredients. Season to taste with local seasonings (i.e. salt, pepper, peppers, roots, citrus fruits, ginger, garlic, chili powder, and so forth). Bring to boil, allow to simmer off of flame for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.
Yeah! I'm gonna capture a boa and make him into stew. In what lifetime will that happen?
May 10, 2010 -- Bob Freer (pictured at the right holding a small ball python) is the number one private python hunter in the Everglades. He has caught over 40 pythons in that South Florida swamp, most of which he euthanized. He also runs an animal center specializing in the animals of the Everglades. His most frequent questions in years past were about the alligators, but nowadays his most frequent questions are about the pythons that live and breed in the 'Glades. An important point that Freer makes in his presentations is that the huge population of giant Burmese pythons are just the "sexiest" case of invasive species in South Florida. There are also anacondas, rock pythons, monitor lizards, and tegu lizards as well as many species of exotic fish and invasive plants. According to Freer, these invasive reptiles, fish, and plants are upsetting the ecological balance of the Everglades.
May 9, 2010 -- In an article on the Montgomery Advertiser website, an effort is made to promote understanding and accurate knowledge of snakes of all types, including venomous snakes and constrictors. The main focus of the article is on Dr. Bob Hastings who travels all over Alabama and nearby states with his collection of reptiles. May 9, 2010 -- City officials in Bartlesville (Oklahoma) are researching ball pythons to see if they can be exempted from that city's dangerous animal ordinance. According to a spokesman, if the research confirms that ball pythons are not dangerous to humans, the city council will amend the city ordinance so that ball pythons will be legal to possess and legal to sell.
May 9, 2010 -- Logansport (Indiana) city officials have just amended their list of prohibited vicious animals to include "constrictor snakes." It's starting to look like encounters with constrictors are widely considered a problem that needs to be controlled by ordinances, regulations, and laws.
May 6, 2010 -- According to their website at highendherps.com, High-End Herps, Inc., of Oakdale (Louisiana) specializes in "investment grade giant constrictors." (There are two grades of reptiles for sale, the very expensive "investment grade" and the much cheaper "pet grade.") One such "investment grade" snake is offered in their on-line price list at $19,900. Many of their neighbors in Oakdale have been complaining to authorities that their pets and small farm animals are disappearing as snake food, and a recent investigation found that the company had in stock twenty-two snakes over twelve feet long that were not properly licensed according to Louisiana law. The snakes were confiscated and the owners arrested. The following quotation from the website shows the dramatically defiant attitude of this husband-wife pair of dealers.
"Here's a little Factoid for all to read and to know: We currently sell and ship ANY snake to ANY and ALL states in the continental United States. More importantly, we will continue to sell and ship to ANY and ALL states, regardless of ANY seemingly potential obstacles that may appear to be in the way, now or in the future, near or far. Nothing will stand in the way of our customers getting the pythons or boas that they want. In short, we will forever fall on our sword for our customers. WE ARE IN THIS FOREVER, NO MATTER WHAT!"
May 5, 2010 -- Partly in response to the investigation into High-End Herps, Inc., a committee of the Louisiana legislature unanimously recommended a bill that would prohibit ownership of and commerce in large constrictor snakes. In a state where Republicans never agree with Democrats on anything, it appears the anti-constrictor bill is popular with everybody in the Louisiana House of Representatives.
May 4, 2010 -- On the USARK (United States Association of Reptile Keepers) website various members continue to post sophisticated advice on how to organize against government action to restrict private ownership of pythons and other non -native reptiles. There are only a few thousand members of USARK, but they are being led by people who know how to approach individual congressmen and senators. Below you see the banner web ad for USARK:
May 3, 2010 -- Python and other invasive reptile encounters are becoming such a problem in Florida that the Legislature has taken action. Seven species of large snakes and lizards are essentially banned from private ownership in Florida with the passage of a bill sponsored by Reps. Trudi Williams and Ralph Poppell and Sen. Eleanor Sobel. Wholesalers distributing to other parts of the country can still sell Burmese pythons, monitor lizards and the like. Oh great! Now the Florida snake dealers can ship their problem out to everybody else.
May 1, 2010 -- Details are sketchy so far, but it has been reported that a Prattville (Alabama) homeowner encountered a ball python in his yard in a residential area of the city near Montgomery (Alabama). Animal control workers have captured the snake and police are trying to determine who in the Prattville area is missing a pet snake. To the right is a picture of the Prattville python lurking in the homeowner's lawn.
May 1, 2010 -- There's still no sign of what happened to the nine-foot Ravenswood (West Virginia) python mentioned in the entry just below this entry.
April 30, 2010 -- Police in Ravenswood (West Virginia) reported that they have been on the lookout for a nine-foot-long python that escaped four days ago.
April 28, 2010 -- A woman in Gonzalez (Louisiana) was driving along in her newly-purchased Camry when a python crawled from under the passenger side seat and started investigating a bucket of fried chicken sitting on the seat. The woman abandoned her car and the fried chicken in the middle of the road and ran off through traffic screaming "There's a snake in my car!" A previous would-be purchaser of the car had apparently taken his python along during a test drive of the Camry. The snake was finally re-captured and returned to its original owners.
April 26, 2010 -- In Sumter County (Florida) a pregnant mother and her live-in boyfriend were arrested on third degree murder charges after their eight and a half foot long Burmese python escaped in the night and strangled the woman's toddler daughter in her crib. Authorities also removed a six foot long boa constrictor from the home. A spokesman described the mother as "high all the time" and the live-in boyfriend as "intemperate and foul-mouthed." The spokesman added that both of them have been in trouble for selling crack, heroin, and crystal meth.
April 24, 2010 -- A man in South Yazoo County (Mississippi) who was keeping a python, a puppy and a pig named Lexus in an old trailer home, was in the trailer when a tornado sent it airborne. The man, the puppy, and Lexus the pig escaped without any serious injury. The python simply escaped. (There are surprisingly large numbers of pythons scattered about the trailer parks in the South.)
April 15, 2010 -- When a guest at a motel in La Vista (Nebraska) lifted the seat on the toilet in her room, she found herself eyeball-to-eyeball with a five foot long python. Local authorities assume the snake was an escaped or released pet looking for a warm place in the extremely cool Nebraska early spring.
April 15, 2010 -- In an argument over playing music too loud at a motel in Rock Hill, South Carolina, one man assaulted another by hitting him in the face with a four foot long python. According to the victim, he was also bitten on the face by the snake and was frightened so badly that he almost had a heart attack.
April 9, 2010 -- Reptile City, a Honey Grove (Texas) internet dealer in "pet grade" snakes, lizards, iguanas, and so forth, updates its online catalog of available pythons. The current retail prices for "pet grade" pythons, both babies and adults, range from $59.99 to $399.99 with free shipping on orders of more than $100.00. (At the right you can see what a six foot long $399.99 green tree python looks like.) Reptile City ships hundreds of pythons a year all over the U.S. There are dozens of on-line sites where the large constrictor snakes can be purchased from people who import and re-sell many different species of the constrictors. EBay and Craigs List frequently offer pythons and boa constrictors for sale. And all sorts of newspapers and magazines published classified ads by individuals trying to sell a few snakes.
March 30, 2010 -- Along a road near the edge of the Everglades and within a half-mile of several residences the largest male African rock python to be found in Florida so far was captured by three hunters. It was fourteen feet long and weighed 150 pounds. (See picture to the right.) This very aggressive species has been known to attack humans. And the females are even larger and more ferocious than the males. So if this whopper of a male is hanging out near where people live, there's almost surely an even larger and nastier-tempered female somewhere nearby. The record female Florida python was found in 2009 and was seventeen feet long and weighed over 200 pounds! But what I really want to know are two things. The first is what are those guys smiling about? And the second is what do they do with the snake now that they've caught it?
March 25, 2010 -- The city council of Boaz (Alabama) passed a dangerous animals ordinance which, along with owners of other kinds of dangerous animals, requires owners of pythons, boa constrictors, and anacondas over six feet in length to purchase a $25 license for each snake. The snake owner must also show proof of $500,000 worth of liability insurance. A $500 fine and up to six months in jail is the penalty for violating this ordinance.
March 24, 2010 -- Appearing before a congressional subcommittee considering a federal ban on interstate sales of pythons and other dangerous snakes and reptiles, Shawn Heflick, a lobbyist for USARK (United States Association of Reptile Keepers), testified that such a ban would not halt the spread of such animals into the wild but would actually worsen the problem. Heflick argued that millions of snakes in the inventories of people who are legally selling such reptiles today would no longer be of value to the dealers and many of those snakes would end up being released into the wild by dealers who could no longer afford to house and feed them.
March 15, 2010 -- A man in Picayune (Mississippi) built an outdoor cage for his ball python. Even though the cage was properly constructed, the snake escaped anyway and is now lurking about Picayune. By the way, this is that snake's second escape.
March 11, 2010 -- A landscaping crew from Sand Castle Construction Company working on the premises of a large home on Marco Island (Florida) was surprised when the nine-foot Burmese python in the picture to the right crawled out from under the lanai on the property. The snake was about as big around as a grown man's leg. The construction workers called the Florida Wildlife Commission. FWC workers captured the snake and removed it to their headquarters.
An FWC spokesman said that the snake was probably not an escaped pet and may well have been a born-in-the-wild Everglades Burmese python. The spokesman added that a nine-foot Burmese python was not that much of a danger to humans unless they were very small, but that such a snake might live for thirty or more years and get to be fifteen to twenty feet long.
(Marco Island is a barrier island on the extreme south-western Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. That's very close to the Everglades area. The python in this entry would easily be able to swim out toi the island.)
March 8, 2010 -- Here's a blog post from the New York Times blog discussing pythons as pets and the irresponsibility of python owners who release the snakes into the wild: "Let's face facts. You have to be somewhat deranged to want a boa constrictor for a pet!" The majority of the posts on that blog express or imply that same point of view.
February 8, 2010 -- But there are, of course, people who are very fond of their big snakes. Teenager Elizabeth Bearden, for example, says it's hard to explain why she's so fond of the giant Burmese pythons her parents raise at their home in Landon, South Carolina. She describes how she got to know Daisy, an 18-foot, 230-pound python. "At first, with Daisy, I was scared," she says. "But after a while, it was really fun." Daisy is one of about 30 Burmese pythons - or "burms," as owners often call them - that the Beardens keep at their home near Charleston. Elizabeth, 13, is fascinated by the giant reptiles. "They're so sweet," she says. "I don't know how to explain it. They're like a dog to me, pretty much. Except that they don't jump all over you like a dog. They're a lot calmer." (See Elizabeth and one of her pythons in the photo to the right.)
January 13, 2010 -- In Osceola County (Florida) a 12-foot green anaconda was captured at a public park.
January 13, 2010 -- In Miami-Dade County (Florida) four African rock pythons, including two that measured 14 feet, were captured during a three-day exotic snake hunt in western Miami-Dade County. Two other rock pythons were spotted but escaped. Eleven African rock pythons have been found to date, raising concerns that the snakes have established a breeding population.
EVENTS IN 2009
December 29, 2009 -- Here's part of a story about two college room-mates: "While I was at work one day, my roommate traded my Burmese Python to his drug dealer for cocaine. When I got home and realized my snake was gone, he apologized. He then offered to split the coke with me. Well while he was in the bathroom I took a lump of the Urates (the white part of the snake shit) and crushed it up in a bag and switched it with his coke. He sat there doing the shit all night, complaining about how it was cut with something. The dealer actually called the house and asked me to come get the snake because it bit him. So all in all I had my snake back, a bag of coke, and an awesome story." (When I was in college in the early 1960's, the weirdest drug event I ever knew about was the case of a grad student who took too many dex tabs and went berserk in the reference room of the library and started pulling books off the shelves and was screaming incomprehensible gibberish. Ah! College life has surely changed in the last half-century!)
November 7, 2009 -- On this date the question of just how to control the exotic non-native snakes in Florida went before Congress. The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security decided to take on the issue of controlling the snakes, especially Burmese pythons and African rock pythons, by considering changes to the Lacy Act, which regulates what kind of plants and animals can be imported into the U.S.
October 22, 2009 -- An op-ed column in the Wilmington, North Carolina Star-News discusses the significance of a seven foot boa constrictor captured in the Cape Fear region. The columnist says that global warming and snakes that adapt to hibernation in winter could lead to establishing a population of large constrictor snakes.
October 19, 2009 -- KTLA-TV (Los Angeles, California) reported the a box containing three large boa constrictors had been abandoned on a street corner in Compton (California). One of the snakes was dead; one was carried off by a neighbor; and one escaped. The escapee was recaptured when he was found inside the engine compartment of a neighbor's car. Boas always look for warm places. Firefighters finally dislodged the snake with a garden rake, a neighbor provided a canvas snake bag, and the firefighters kept the snake overnight at their fire house. Animal control picked the snake up the next day.
October 17, 2009 -- The United Kingdom edition of The Times reports that some snake experts say that conditions in the Florida Everglades are right for African rock pythons and Burmese pythons to mate and produce hybrids big enough to attack and swallow adult humans.
October 13, 2009 -- Riviera Beach (Florida) police were going door-to-door handing out flyers warning that a five-foot-long python was on the loose and was last seen sunning itself on the front porch of a local residence.
October 7, 2009 -- Two brothers driving down a North Carolina road spotted an especially large snake lying injured in the roadway. They thought it was an over-sized eastern diamondback rattlesnake, so they stopped and approached the snake which had been hit by a car while crossing the road. It turned out to be a seven foot long, one hundred pound boa constrictor. The men loaded the snake into their truck and took the critter to a vet.
September 13, 2009 -- Mrs. Raven Johns found a fifteen foot long, two hundred pound python that had slithered onto her front porch in the town of Tanner near Decatur, Alabama. Enjoying the warmth of early fall sun on the yellow pine boards of the Johns' porch, the snake was blocking the front door to the house and Mrs. Johns was screaming "It's an anaconda!" The python eventually slid down the steps and crawled up under the porch where it was very difficult to get it out. Evidently it had escaped or been released into the wild. Eventually game wardens, animal control workers, and police got help from a local snake owner and managed to capture the snake. Somewhat inanely, a spokesman said "Such a large snake is potentially very dangerous to animals and children." To the right is a picture of animal control officers and a local snake owner (the guy with the elaborate tattoo on his left arm) struggling to put the snake in a canvas bag. Once the snake was bagged, the police gave the animal to the helpful snake owner despite the fact that it was not one of his snakes.
September 11, 2009 -- An almost four hundred pound Burmese python who was 36 inches around his greatest girth was removed by authorities from a home in Apopka, Florida. The snake was 17 feet long and 23 years old. Florida Fish and Wildlife authorities siezed the monster snake but intend to return it to the owner when all licensing regultions have been fulfilled.
August 28, 2009 -- In New Port Richey, Florida, an undercover Florida Fish and Wildlife agent arrested a 19-year-old man for illegally possessing pythons and illegally attempting to sell the snakes on Craigslist. The agent also confiscated the twelve snakes, some of them up to nine feet long.
August 18, 2009 -- A Seminole County (Florida) man found a seven foot long albino Burmese python coiled around his trash can.
August 11, 2009 -- Within a period of about two weeks a ten foot python and a five foot boa constrictor were found in Riverfront Park in St. Joseph, Missouri, a very popular gathering place on the banks of the Missouri River. At the right is a picture of the ten-foot St. Joseph, Missouri, python which is believed to be an escaped or released pet, and it really terrified some of the people strolling in the park on that summer afternoon. The boa constrictor which was found in a nearby shopping mall parking lot a couple of weeks earlier was probably also a released or escaped pet. Unfortunately for such snakes, the winters in Missouri are so cold that non-native snakes like boas and pythons either die of pneumonia or freeze to death unless they find a nice warm place like a garage or a laundry room or an attic or a toilet bowl or a washing machine or some other place in a human habitation where they can find shelter.
August 6, 2009 -- In the past few weeks in East Manatee near Bradenton (Florida) a man has captured two pythons. One was a three and a half foot long ball python, but the other one was a fourteen foot long monster Burmese python captured near a supermarket. Justin Matthews of Matthews Wildlife Rescue captured the ball python snake in the 4900 block of 34th Avenue East, and is keeping it at his facility at Mixon Fruits Farms. Matthews is also keeping the 14-foot Burmese python, nicknamed "Sweetie," captured recently a block from a Sweetbay supermarket in East Manatee.
July 30, 2009 -- PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal rights organization with about two million members. The head of PETA's legal department is upset with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's efforts to eradicate Burmese Pythons in the Everglades. Here is part of the letter that attorney sent to the FFWC.
"I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 2 million members and supporters to express our concerns regarding the manner in which Burmese pythons and other reptiles may be killed pursuant to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's permit programs. PETA is concerned that the methods of euthanasia -- a word that is derived from the Greek terms for "good death" -- as set forth in the Burmese python permit do not appear to be accepted methods of euthanasia for reptiles and thus may lead to an unnecessarily cruel death for these animals."
July 6, 2009 -- Yuma, Arizona, firefighters and members of Humane Society of Yuma spent a lively afternoon capturing what they thought was a python on the front porch of a residence in that city. The snake, variously estimated from six to ten feet long, was believed by authorities to be a pet which had either been let loose or which had escaped. When examined by experts a couple of days later, it turned out that the snake was actually a six foot long boa constrictor. The picture to the right shows Yuma police officers delivering the snake to an animal shelter. No one ever tried to claim the snake and no one requested help in finding an escaped boa, so authorities eventually concluded that a pet owner had released the snake into the wild when it got too big.
June 19, 2009 -- A New York City teen woke up in his family's ground-floor apartment and found himself face-to-fang with a three foot long boa constrictor. He ran out the room, called 911. When the cops came, they caught the snake, put it in a pillow case, and gave it to the animal control officers when they arrived. Apparently it was an escaped pet boa that scared the whole family by crawling in through an open window.
June 18, 2009 -- The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at Aiken, South Carolina, begins a python study to determine the range of areas in the U.S. where climate, topography, flora, and fauna would allow breeding populations of pythons to survive. The SREL's tentative conclusion was that pythons can find many areas suitable for them to breed and survive in the southern third of the mainland U.S.
May 2, 2009 -- Bloggers are full of ideas about how to deal with the pythons of Florida. Here's an example.However, if the Burmese python does so well in the swamps of the southeast U.S., why not rename it the American python and accept its presence? Yes, we don't like the idea of a species being introduced in a new environment by pet owners dumping their unwanted animal toys, but what about the other ways that species can spread to new habitats naturally?
April 16, 2009 -- On a flight from Alice Springs (Australia) to Melbourne, four baby pythons somehow escaped from their shipping container in the cargo bay of the plane. The four little snakes were part of a shipment of twelve snakes. The four escapees were never found.
January 1, 2009 -- A New Year's Day fire in a St. George, Utah, trailer park forces firefighters to contend with almost two dozen oversize pythons. One of the firefighters who owns large snakes himself tried using mouth-to-mouth to save a large python.
EVENTS IN 2008 AND BEFORE
December 6, 2008 --The Prattville, Alabama, Police Department investigated the theft of twenty-two Amazon boa constrictors from a storage shed in the snake owner's back yard. November 10, 2008 -- 25-year-old Amanda Black of Virginia Beach (Virginia) was fatally strangled by her 13-foot-long pet reticulated python named Diablo. (The picture at the right shows the relative sizes of a 25-year-old woman versus a 13-foot-long python.) Ms. Black was trying to force the snake to take a vet-prescribed medication when he coiled around the woman's neck and began to squeeze.
November 8, 2008 -- Science News reports the discovery in Colombia of the fossilized remains of an ancestor to the anaconda and boa constrictor named Titanoboa. This snake lived about 60 million years ago and is estimated to have been a litle over 41 feet long and to have weighed a little over 2500 pounds. One of the professors at the Unversity of Florida where these fossils are being studied tried to explain just how big that snake was. "If she was crawling down the corridor of the Biology Building, she would be too big to fit through classroom or office doors because she was longer and wider than a standard public school bus."
October, 2008 -- A lady in Gorham (Maine) went into her laundry room to wash a load of clothes and found a spunky eight-foot reticulated python when she lifted the lid of her washing machine. On that same day, just a few miles away, another eight-foot reticulated python was found coiled under a pick-up truck in a heated garage.
October 11, 2008 -- Kelly Pickler, the American Idol star from season #5, recently purchased a two-foot-long python in Nashville. Commenting to reporters Pickler said "I'll have to be careful so that Simon" -- yes, she named the python for Simon Cowell -- "doesn't eat my puppy Moo Moo."
October 9, 2008 -- A Bridgeport (Connecticut) man was holding his girlfriend hostage by intimidating her with a nine foot long boa constrictor. When the police arrived, the man started ordering the snake to attack the policemen. "Sic those cops, Snaky! Sic 'em!" Evidently the man had not trained the boa to attack on command, so the police simply handcuffed the guy and initially led him off to the local psych clinic and eventually to the Bridgeport jail.
August 19, 2008 -- A Muskegon (Michigan) policeman responding to assist a man trapped in his pickup truck by an aggressive seven foot long snake arrived on the scene and found himself being attacked by a Burmese python. Even though the snake had been run over by the truck, it was still fighting mad and lashing out at the police officer. The snake, probably an escaped or released pet, took three shots from the officer's pistol before the animal died.
March 8, 2008 -- Here's what Steve Mirsky, an expert on pythons has to say: "I'm not afraid of timid alligators, but hungry Burmese pythons give me the willies. Anyway, the US Geological Survey recently did an analysis of potential temperatures around the country by the end of this century. And then analyzed where Burmese pythons would be comfortable, based on their home territory, from Pakistan to Indonesia. The result: pythons could colonize a third of the US. Did I mention that they can be over 20 feet long and 250 pounds? Might be the best motivation to do something about climate change."
February 19, 2008 -- In the photo at the right you see Bindi and Robert Irwin, the children of the late Steve Irwin of Crocodile Hunter fame. Bindi was bitten by a boa constrictor when she was 18 months old; Robert was bitten by a boa constrictor when he was four years old.
September 5, 2006 -- A 23-year-old man from Lanesville (Indiana) was crushed to death by his 14-foot-long pet python. Police found his body and the snake in a shed on the man's farm in southern Indiana. A paramedic on the scene said that the injuries which killed the man were clearly inflicted by the snake.
October 27, 2005 -- A farmer near Des Moines (Iowa) thought he saw an abandoned tire in his corn field. When he picked it up, it turned out to be a sick but quite alive 11-foot python. The python named Attila had been missing from a fellow farmer's property for about four weeks. The snake and his owner were joyously reunited.
June 23, 2005 -- They should know better in Africa, but apparently they don't. In South Africa. a fisherman is recovering in hospital after a python grabbed him and tried to swallow him alive in Limpopo (South Africa) on Wednesday morning. John Malepe, 21, was fishing with a friend along a river in The Willows village near Hoedspruit about 11:00 and then went into the bush to relieve himself. "About five minutes later I heard him shout for help and scream 'A big snake, a big snake!'," said his friend, Andrew Rashidi, 39, on Thursday. Rashidi, a former soldier in the 113 Battalion in Phalaborwa, said he rushed to Malepe's aid and found a large python wrapping itself around Malepe's slender frame. "He was in a sitting position and the snake's head was just in front of his face," he said. He threw rocks at the python, which opened its mouth and started hissing. When the rocks didn't make the giant snake release Malepe, Rashidi used a stick to repeatedly stab the python inits gaping mouth. "It was only then that the snake released John," said Rashidi.
July 6, 2004 -- On July 6, two Loveland (Colorado) girls on vacation in Montana climbed a hillside in the area of Livingston to improve cell phone reception so they could call friends. "We were just going up for a hike, and my dog sniffed out a hole," Izzy Effler, 13, remembers. The curious canine apparently spooked a large rattlesnake which emerged from the hole and struck at (but did not bite) Izzy. Morgan Beadwell, 12, then stepped on another rattler, but quickly jumped away unharmed. Within moments, other snakes began appearing until the youngsters were surrounded by at least a half-dozen deadly vipers. Utilizing the cell phone, the frightened youngsters called Izzy's father, Brian Effler, for help. Accompanied by a teenage nephew, Mr. Effler grabbed a pellet gun and rushed up the hillside. They shot two snakes, and when two others slithered into holes, the girls scurried through the clearing and down the hillside to safety.
February 2, 2003 -- According to the September edition of the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Coroner's Office reported the death of an eight-year-old Pittsburgh boy who was killed in his sleep by the family's pet Burmese python.
March 9, 2002 -- According to the Associated Press, a Greensburg (Pennsylvania) man whose 8-year-old daughter was squeezed to death by the family's 11-foot python was found innocent Thursday of involuntary manslaughter but guilty of endangering the girl's welfare. Robert D. Mountain, 31, was negligent but not grossly reckless in leaving Amber Mountain home alone with the snake last August, Judge Richard McCormick Jr. ruled in the non-jury trial. Mountain could get up to five years in prison. Amber was found unconscious on the kitchen floor with the python, named Moe, coiled around her body. She died two days later at hospital from compression of the head and neck.
February 13, 2002 -- According to the Colorado City Gazette, Richard Barber was pronounced dead 30 minutes after his 11-foot-long Burmese python wrapped itself around the snake-owner's head and started to squeeze. Before the snake was under control, it began wrapping itself around one of the para-medics who had unsuccessfully tried to rescue Barber. The para-medic was then rescued and survived with only minor injuries.
October 2001 -- A man in Merced (California) noticed that both his 200-pound python and his 30-pound pit bull were missing. He found them both at the same time. They were under his house, but the pit bull was inside the stomach of the python. (Pythons are generally good at escaping from their enclosures.)
1996 -- A 15-year-old resident of the Bronx borough of New York City was attacked by his escaped 13 foot long Burmese python as the young man was sleeping. The snake grabbed the boy's bare foot in his mouth and then quickly coiled around the boy, squashing the life out of the lad. Authorities were at a loss to explain why the snake attacked, but a spokesman theorized that the snake was probably hungry.
1995 -- San Bernadino (California) Mormons were forced by the EPA to indefinitely delay plans for building a new chapel in the community of Running Springs because the building site will impact on the range of the Southern Rubber Boa, a species of boa constrictor native to the southwestern U.S. By the way, the adult rubber boas are seldom longer than two feet.
1995 -- In the photo on the right is Keith, a ten foot long boa constrictor who inhabited the plumbing of a block of flats in Manchester (England) and who occasionally popped out of the loo and slithered around on the floor. Flat tenants were forced to resort to piling bricks on the toilet lid to keep Keith from popping out into their homes. Keith escaped from his owner and spent about four months popping out of poopers before being re-captured.
June 29, 1993 -- Drug Enforcement Agents at Miami airport found 36 kilos of cocaine wrapped in condoms and stuffed into Boa constrictors. The snakes, imported from South America, were still alive when found, and consisted of 312 animals averaging about five feet in length. The cocaine was only found by accident when one of the snakes was seen to have an unnatural bulge. Officials X-rayed it to see what was inside and removed two condom-wrapped pellets, each containing four ounces of cocaine. Despite observation the officials were unable to apprehend anyone in relation to the case.
1993 -- A 19-year-old resident of Commerce City (Colorado) was wearing his ten-foot-long python around his neck while shopping for a live chicken to feed the snake. The scent of the chicken got on the guy's clothes. Well, pythons don't see all that well, so the snake tightened his grip around the young man's neck apparently mistaking the owner for the chicken. When police got to the scene, the python and the chicken were just fine; the young man was dead.