Recently, we received a call in reference to a reticulated python that was in desperate need of a home. Apparently, the snake was purchased at a petshop and was being kept in the basement of a residence in North Georgia. The python, measuring about 12 feet long, escaped through a window. About 3 days later, the snake was found by a neighbor in a storage shed. The owner of the snake then had his escapee back home but was soon notified by his landlord that he and his family were being evicted due to this incident. The snake then went to "Snakes of Georgia" which is a rescue group based out of North Georgia. On Sunday July15, 2007, Snakes of Georgia personnell delivered the python to us at Southeastern Reptile Rescue. So far, the python has been rather docile and has already participated in its first educational program that was presented to over 150 attendees at the Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia on July 16. Below are some news items concerning the python now known to us as "Hercules".
BREAKING NEWS: Python found
Hercules, a 12-foot python that had gone missing over the weekend from his home at the corner of
Published: July 11, 2007 10:24 pm
?Hercules' back home
Python found in neighbor's storage shed
By Victor Alvis
Hercules the python is back safely at home in a secure cage ? but his owner's family is now looking for shelter.
Albert Hooker, Smith's neighbor on
"I think it scared Albert a little bit," Hulett said. "I've got eight beagles out back, but I didn't like the idea of walking around at night with a python on the loose."
Sometime on Friday, the snake had pushed against a single-pane window in the basement of the Smith home to break the second of four panes. Hercules made his way through a grassy field past a neighbor's dog trot holding six dogs of various sizes. The snake crossed a dry drainage ditch and went up a five-foot rise between pine trees before crossing Hooker's back yard and entering the sky-blue storage shed.
"Everybody was making him out to be a ?killer snake,' but I would be more worried about all the stray dogs running around out here," Smith said. "We're hoping we can find a zoo or some place like that where we can donate him. We're looking for somebody to take him in. If I'd known it would have been this much trouble, I wouldn't have got him."
Smith said he took off work Wednesday from a local carpet mill to look for a new place to stay since landlord Richard "Junior" Steelman served him eviction papers.
"They should be out seven days from (Wednesday), unless they take it to small claims court. I paid $70 for the paperwork today, so they'd better throw him out," Steelman said. "Either me or (the snake) one is leaving. I'm not going to have it there. I worry about little kids. (The Smiths) said it was so tame it would lick his face. But I don't know what it will do around strangers ? or when it gets hungry."
The Smiths said they were up-to-date on rent, and produced receipts for payments from April through June. But Steelman has said they never told him they were keeping such a pet on the property and noted damage that had been caused to the property.
Terry Manis of Chatsworth, who runs the Snakes of Georgia wildlife program, was called in by Gary Cowart, director of the Murray County Animal Control, since this was the first such call the office had received.
"I've been the director since we opened our doors. We've had calls where people have left snakes in an aquarium after vacating a property, but this was new," Cowart said. "On our end, the python had gotten out Thursday night or Friday morning, and we didn't get the call until we came in Monday morning, three or four days later, and nobody had seen anything."
Manis said the three-day-old trail offered no clues, and rain made it unlikely the cold-blooded creature would show its face Monday or Tuesday.
"Catching it is not a problem. Finding it is the problem. We want people to be careful but not live in fear," Manis said Wednesday before learning the snake had been found. "It's a grassland predator, very intelligent, and can ambush prey along trails. It's going to have to eat, and that's what's got me worried a little bit."
But Manis ? who caught 26 wild snakes in homes last month, one sitting on a computer keyboard ? said he was more worried about poachers finding the snake and killing it before he could catch it. He correctly predicted the snake would be lying low in a cool, dry place, trying to regulate its body temperature.
"There's no sense in killing a snake if you can catch it. The python's owner had only had it two months and didn't have enough heat lamps or a large enough cage for it," Manis said. "This is a good lesson for people who want a big snake. It probably cost (Smith) $200, but it's costing him a lot more now."
Smith said he purchased the snake at Tropical Pet Paradise in
The pet store currently has animals such as a ball python, monitor lizards, Chinese water dragons and iguanas for sale.
A man in
Connie Haynes, technical assistant for the special permits unit of the Wildlife Resources Division of the state Department of Natural Resources, said there are no state regulations governing pythons.
"It has to be named in the wild animal code," Haynes said. "There's a section where they list by order, genus and species exactly which animals you would only be able to possess with a permit for commercial purposes. Anything that's not named in there you can have as a pet."
And pythons are not named.
"No boids are," Haynes said. "Boids refers to the boa family and the boa family includes pythons, boas and anacondas, three groups of snakes that are included. So none of the boas are named in the wild animal code."
Licenses are required for businesses that want to use exotic animals mentioned in the code for commercial purposes.
"There are all kinds of laws and rules and regulations that go with a commercial business that would have a wild animal like that," Haynes said.
As for a python getting loose, Haynes said, "I wish that didn't happen as often as it does, but it does."