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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Python on the loose?

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Arkansas Wildlife Officer Steve Taylor said he thinks the skin of a Burmese python found in Riverbend Park near Hardy was just that -- skin.

"I don't believe there is one out there," Lt. Taylor said.

Taylor said he was called to the camper park several weeks ago after someone found a 12-foot python skin near the park's guard shack on Bluffs Road.

Taylor said after he investigated the snake skin, he didn't think much more about it.

The skin was located in a flower bed. The flowers and other foliage was still upright, not typical if a snake had actually shed its skin inside the flower bed, Taylor said.

"It would have to be a pretty big snake," he said. "Because of where and how it was placed, I don't think the skin was left there by a snake."

Taylor said he thinks the skin was placed in the flower bed purposely.

"I think somebody placed it there as a joke," he said. "It was definitely not left there by the snake."

But, Taylor said anyone who spots a Burmese python should contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

The pythons have infiltrated Florida, especially in Everglades National Park. Park officials say the snakes are being illegally released into the park by owners who no longer want to take care of them. The snakes have begun to breed, causing concern for the park's wildlife, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Burmese pythons can reach up to 20 feet in length and weigh more than 200 pounds in adulthood.

The snakes are considered docile compared to other large snakes but are aggressive feeders and have been linked to several human deaths due to owner complacency, ignorance or error, according to experts.

Pythons are constrictors and most feed on birds and mammals. Large pythons will usually eat something about the size of a house cat, but some large Asian species have been known to take down adult deer and gazelles, according to an online encyclopedia.

The large snakes coil around their prey, tighten and squeeze hard enough to stop their next meal's breathing and blood circulation, according to Wikipedia.

The snakes swallow their prey whole, taking several days or even weeks to fully digest it.

In October 2005 a 16-foot Burmese python burst after swallowing a 6-foot alligator, killing both the snake and the alligator, according to the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

Reports of python attacks on humans are extremely rare. According to Siar Antrianir Reptiles, a 10-foot Burmese python strangled an 8-year-old girl in Pennsylvania in August 2001. After the attack, the child fell into a coma and was declared brain-dead two days later.

Five years earlier a 13-foot Burmese python killed a 19-year-old man in New York. A neighbor found him in a hallway outside his apartment with the snake wrapped around him, according to the Web site.

In 1993 an 11-foot pet Burmese python killed a 15-year-old boy in his bed in Colorado. The snake bit the boy on the right foot and apparently suffocated him, the Web site said.

In June 2003 an 80-pound Burmese python escaped from his cage and wrapped himself tightly around the leg of his owner's mother, the foundation said. Paramedics freed the woman when they arrived.

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