MILFORD - The tale of a missing 15-foot python ended with the reptile’s death about midnight Saturday June 15.
An elderly woman had called police to report the snake had appeared in her front yard on South Bois D’arc, several blocks over from where it came up missing about two weeks ago.
“The homeowner was out there screaming and yelling. She was quite upset,” Police Chief Carlos Phoenix said, saying the woman wanted the snake destroyed — immediately.
“She wanted the officers to shoot it right then, but they said they had to wait for me. She told them, ‘I hope when he gets here it reaches up and bites him in the butt,’ ” Phoenix said with a chuckle. “She told me later, ‘Carlos, I’ve got to apologize to you.’ ”
Plans had been to contact the owner if the hand-raised snake was located, but officers’ attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful. Phoenix said he went to the house where the owner had been staying, but was unable to make contact with anyone. The chief was en route to the scene when a sheriff’s deputy, who is also a city councilman, made the decision to shoot the snake, which at that point was attempting to flee into a nearby field.
“If it would have gotten into the cornfield, we would have lost it,” Phoenix said. “It was trying to get away and that’s when he (the deputy) felt for the safety of the citizens and other animals it would be best to put it down.”
The snake apparently had managed to squeeze through a small gap by the door on its cage in the 400 block of S. Crossmain after a heavy thunderstorm June 2.
Phoenix said he felt the snake, which had been fed shortly before it disappeared, had gone on the move because it had grown hungry again.
“You have a town of 700 people, a town full of elderly people, small dogs, and this snake is apparently now becoming hungry,” he said. “It’s looking for food, and it’s going to do what it’s got to do to eat.”
The chief said a number of people had talked to him about the snake’s disappearance in the midst of the small town.
“We had a lot of concerned citizens about the snake,” Phoenix said. “There were actually people not letting their kids go out in the yard without them there. There were a lot of concerns about that snake still being out there running around.”
Phoenix said the owner, however, had told him he had turned down people’s offers to look for the snake in return for a reward if they found it, telling them, “Don’t worry about it, it’s gone.”
There also had been some thought that someone might have taken the snake, which had been posted for sale by its owner and left outside in its cage the weekend it disappeared.
Although the owner was upset when contact was finally made and he was informed of the disposition to the matter, Phoenix said he had explained when the snake was reported missing that odds were, if someone found it in his or her yard, it would be probably be shot before he could get there.
“This woman didn’t have a gun otherwise she would have probably done it herself,” Phoenix said.
As a result of the snake incident, Phoenix said he expects the city council will look at its ordinance relating to exotic animals.
“I’m pretty sure they’re adding snakes to it,” he said, saying the question has also come up as to how many people may simply turn their snakes loose when they become too large to deal with or they just don’t want to take care of them anymore.
There might have been less concern if the snake had escaped during the winter, as the elements would probably have killed it first.
“It’s pretty much a tropical snake, so when we do have a little bit of a harsh winter, most likely it will kill it if one is on the loose,” Phoenix said. “These snakes cannot survive in the cold at all. I was talking to a lady here who had a snake. When we went without power for about 24 hours last winter, it actually died because it was not getting enough heat. That one was about 3- to 4-feet long.”
E-mail JoAnn at email@example.com