Thursday, 21 April 2011

Illinois Residents Report Large Snake on the Loose

Posted: Monday, April 18th

BUSH -- People in Bush are begging for help after reports began circulating that there is a large snake on the loose in their neighborhood.

The animal was first spotted about a week ago Residents believe it is a boa constrictor or a python, possibly someone's pet that was released into the wild. Experts say that's not necessarily the case.

"It's the whole talk of town. Every body's scared to death. Afraid to let their kids out or their dogs," said Bush resident Lester Taylor.

"The kids are always inside. They are never let out here by themselves," Misty Gurley told News Three.

Residents say the snake is preying on animals in their neighborhood, and they want it caught before it kills again.

Most of the reported snake sightings have been in an area near 6th Street. Rumors circulated that the animal killed a large German Shepard-mix dog that lived at one home.

Lester Taylor says he spotted the snake in the alley behind his house. He describes it as about 6 inches in diameter and 12 feet long.

Taylor tried to trap the animal.

"I got a stick I pick up trash with, it has a nail in it," he said, "I poked the snake in the tail and was trying to hold it until somebody come to help me. He just ripped it out and went on in the tree."

Neighbors contacted Hurst police for help. Chief Ron Harvel spent several hours looking for the animal in the alley that runs behind 6th St. Harvel did see a snake. He calls it dark brown in color.

"The snake I saw was not a python, was not an anaconda, was not a boa constrictor," Harvel said.

Neighbors snapped two pictures of the animal. SIU ecologist Brooke Talley and Department of Natural Resources Herpetologist Scott Ballard analyzed them. Both insist the snake in the photos is not an exotic reptile

"It's not a boa or a python. What we actually have is a black rat snake, and those get really large, they go to five or six feet," Talley said.

Black rat snakes are common in Illinois. Talley says they are not dangerous to humans or pets.

She explains it's possible someone released a pet boa or python into the wild. But even then, she says it's unlikely that it killed a dog, cat or even ducks

"That would not happen," she said, "That's way too big for what they would prefer to eat."

Some people think that a neighbor released two pet snakes. Police tell News Three they don't have any reports of missing snakes. Authorities recommed that if you see the snake, call 911 right away and they'll come check it out.

Experts also encourage residents to leave the animal alone. Some of the people that live near the area where the snake has been spotted set up traps in their yards. Talley explains that this time of year is breeding season for snakes. The reptiles more active during that time, and that's likely why people have spotted them.

By: Emily Finnegan
(Via Chad Arment)

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