The deaths of two young Canadian boys who were strangled by a python earlier this week, has many people, including East Texans, worried.
Longview Animal Control said they are finding exotic snakes in unexpected places.
They said those snakes either escaped from their enclosures or were turned loose.
Meet Stretch, a Red-Tail Boa surrendered to the Humane Society of North East Texas by his owner, who said the snake is now too big and too expensive to care for.
“You buy one that is two feet long and of course you are feeding it small mice and little bitty things; when they get to six to eight feet, they can grow up to this length within about a year to two years. They become far more expensive to feed and you have to handle them on a daily basis and they become quite challenging the bigger they get,” said Chris Kemper with Longview Animal Control.
Kemper said these snakes can live 20 to 40 years, so it’s a long-term commitment people need to consider before purchasing certain species of snakes.
Kemper said in the past few months, he has retrieved large exotic snakes from a resident’s yard, a Longview motel room, and a city park.
“We did find one a few months ago that was actually loose in our Broughton Park. It was a Burmese Python; it was loose on the basketball court,” Kemper explained.
While handling the Red-Tail Boa that is around six to eight feet long, he said “For a snake this size, absolutely a small pet could be at risk as could a small child. We’re not on their menu. They are not going to try to wrap around us and kill us to eat us, but snakes get scared.”
Which is what experts believe may have happened with the two Canadian children who died of asphyxiation when an African Rock Python reportedly escaped from its enclosure.
“It comes across as a tragic recipe of disaster. This is a powerful reptile. This is one of the longest and strongest and biggest snakes on the planet, and they are a voracious predator in the African Savanna where they live and they don’t belong in the presence of young children,” said Jeff Corwin, a wildlife biologist.
Although that particular python is known for its ill temper, Kemper warns that more docile snakes, if given a reason, can become aggressive.
Kemper is asking East Texans to really do their research before taking in a snake they may not be able to care for later on.
The Humane Society of North East Texas is taking care of Stretch until they can find the snake an appropriate home.
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