Add another page to your “Well, You Don’t See That Everyday” file.
In the wee morning hours of Thursday, April 24, two UC Police Dept. officers happened across 13.17 feet and 85 pounds of Burmese python coiled up, cold and near death in a parking lot on the Devereux Loop. Police think that someone, most likely the owners, had taken the snake out to the parking lot in an effort to see something cool. Next to the snake lay a dead rabbit, so you can assume dude and bro decided to feed the snake, but it decided that munching on some moron’s appendage was a tastier option.
Burmese pythons, native to northwestern India and southeast Asia, are cool snakes but a bad idea for a pet. On average, the snakes can grow anywhere between 10 and 20 feet in length, and weigh as much as 200 pounds. They feed primarily on cute, fuzzy mammals and small reptiles. Burms, as any herpetologist website will refer to these slithering beauties, don’t possess syringe-like fangs but have smaller curved teeth for latching onto prey and working them backward down their reptilian gullets.
Burms are fine creatures, the bad boys of the animal kingdom. They spend their mornings laying in the sun, warming up for the day’s hunt. When it finds a tasty, Disney-esque creature, it strikes. Nature designed the dental work in such a way that when the animal tries to struggle, the snake’s teeth just sink in deeper, inching Thumper closer to his cute digestive doom. If the Burm tries to take on something more Bambi-sized, no problem; it can unhinge its jaw to take on something four to five times its head size.
After eating, the snake will lie around, keeping warm enough to digest the meal, like grandpa after Thanksgiving dinner.
Unfortunately for snake lovers everywhere, Burms violate the cardinal rule of pet ownership: If it can swallow your head, then it doesn’t make a good pet. Other animals that fall into this category include bears, the great cats and, my personal bane, dolphins. (Yes, I realize that a dolphin couldn’t swallow your head, but they’re nasty creatures anyway and would turn on you faster than you can say “Flipper.”)
Burmese pythons are also incredibly difficult to take care of. A fully-grown Burm can defecate and urinate as much as a horse. If their cages become too moist or dirty, they can suffer from belly rot. Feeding them chickens can give them salmonella poisoning and their food should be killed before feeding. Many that exist in captivity carry a disease called inclusion body disease, which is always fatal to pythons and can be transmitted quite easily from snake to snake or even from snake to human to snake.
What happened last week is a perfect example of the problems associated with snake ownership. People think snakes are cool, so cool that they need to be frightened and taunted into doing something even cooler. But some things belong in the domestic environment and other things don’t. Again, if it can swallow your head, it needs to stay in the wild.
The irresponsible pricks that butchered the snake last week deserve all the pain and humiliation they get. The snake should’ve died feeling satisfied though, since one of its provokers is probably doubled up on a toilet somewhere, experiencing the worst colon rush of his or her life. Veterinarians stated that the snake was infected with cryptosporidiosis, a disease caused by the feces of ingested animals and whose symptoms include nausea, diarrhea and light fever.
Nature: 2. Meatheads: 1.
Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus opinion editor.