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Wilmington, NC - Ben Mitchell of Critter Control made one of his more interesting pest-catching visits Tuesday.
Basking in the front yard of Kevin King's Rocky Point home was a python.
King was going up and down the street knocking on doors to find the python's owner, Mitchell said on his way to "rassle" the critter – 3 feet, 2 inches long.
Mitchell, who made the rescue trip for free, said that normally such animals are destroyed unless they can be taken to an appropriate place to save them. So, his mission Tuesday was to pick up the snake and transport it to the safety of the Cape Fear Serpentarium in downtown Wilmington.
Those are people who know how to handle and save snakes, he said.
"I don't rehab snakes," Mitchell said, "and wouldn't have the knowledge to help it if it's trouble."
As it turns out, it was safe.
When Mitchell arrived, he found the snake in good shape – in a cardboard box and in the shade, protecting it from the worst of the heat.
Later, the python was delivered to his new home at the Serpentarium, where it was identified as a ball python – so named because it rolls into a ball when frightened. Native to West Africa, the snakes are popular pets due to their relatively small size and docile temperament.
Though Mitchell said it was probably a pet that got loose or was let go, it isn't the first non-native constricting snake to make the news around here.
In October 2009, two brothers on their way to Wilmington for an appointment noticed a snake along N.C. 133 near Orton Plantation. They thought it was a rattlesnake but it turned out to be a boa constrictor that stretched at least 7 feet.
The brothers, Billy and Ronnie Ballard, brought the injured snake to the StarNews before it too made its way down to the Serpentarium.
Experts theorized that it was a pet that had survived in the wild, but would have been doomed by North Carolina's frosty winters.
But a federal study that came out that same year determined that giant snakes, specifically Indian or Burmese pythons, could use hibernation to squeeze an existence out in coastal North Carolina – a habitat that could get even more snake-friendly with climate change tied to global warming.
The constrictors, either having escaped or been intentionally released after growing too big for their owners, already have made a home in Florida's Everglades and have slowly been expanding their presence northward.
Credits: By Wayne Faulkner - StarNewsOnline.com