Python escapes in NB neighborhood

February 15, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

NEW BOSTON — Snakes aren’t an uncommon sight in neighborhoods near the foothills of Appalachia, but it wasn’t a common garter snake or black snake that a postal worker found on a porch in New Boston on Thursday.

According to New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton, a postal carrier was startled when she stepped onto a porch Thursday to deliver mail at 220 West Ave., in New Boston and came face-to-face with a 4-foot-long ball python. Hamilton said the snake was about eight pounds. He said it was about three inches thick at its center, and looked as if it had just eaten.

The postal carrier reported the sighting to the village, and Hamilton responded to the scene. When he arrived to the house, he said he found the snake near the sidewalk being chewed on by two large cats. He scared away the cats, but said the snake was barely moving. It died shortly after.

“I don’t know if it came from that house or if it came from somebody just turned it loose in one of those abandoned houses there and it had crawled over on that porch; but this time of year, a ball python don’t want to be out in this type of weather. Snakes usually, this time of year, are in dens,” Hamilton said.

Ball pythons are non-venomous constrictors, coiling their long bodies around their prey and tightening until all air is squeezed from its victim’s body and it dies. They are typically found in Africa and are not indigenous to southern Ohio, but many pet shops sell them as pets because they are generally very docile creatures and not known for attacking humans.

But they are still considered exotic animals and have to be registered with the village, Hamilton said. When an exotic animal goes missing the owner has to notify the village, police, and animal control. Failure to register an exotic animal is a minor misdemeanor. If the animal causes harm or damage, the owner could face more serious charges.

“People don’t understand. They go to these pet stores and buy these ball pythons. They have to understand these things can get up to 9- or 10-feet long, and it’s their own choice if they want a snake in the house if they have children,” Hamilton said. “This one here is small compared to some I’ve seen. You get a kid out playing — you read about it in the news all the time of these pythons killing children. I’m not saying this one would do that. I don’t know if the cats wouldn’t have got it, what would it do next?”

The snake is now being kept by the village until its owner comes to claim the animal. Hamilton said that because the snake is dead now, and it didn’t hurt anyone, he would let the police department decide whether or not to charge its owner. If no owner comes forward, he said the animal will be destroyed.

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com.