Yikes! 4-foot ball python found outside Sarasota apartment

Sarasota Police Department officer Officer Maiah Taylor holds the boa constrictor. SPD image

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Police officers serve in the line of duty to protect the community from harm and apparently from scary reptiles too. Sarasota police officers got a call they don’t get every day- a woman found a ball python in her back patio.

At 5:30 Thursday morning, Sonya Clifton walked to her back patio and saw her cats staring at the ground. She recalled, “I bent over and looked down, and you know I wasn’t awake yet. And then I look down again and I’m like ‘Oh my God, it’s a snake.'”

RELATED: PHOTOS of Florisnakeda Snakes

Lying outside her lanai was a 4-foot long ball python. Clifton said, “Oh I’m terrified of [snakes!] Scared to death of them!”

She immediately tried to get help but Animal Services wasn’t available that early. She said, “Their office was closed ‘til 8 o clock…that was a long time to wait.”

So she reached out to the police, and some unlucky officers got the assignment. Officer Maiah Taylor said, “I was cringing….I’m a little bit IMG_7785afraid of snakes.”

After they arrived, Officer Todd Tschetter happened to have a pole in his trunk, so he was able to safely get the snake away from Clifton’s home. Clifton said, “[The police officers] were great, they were absolutely great, they made me feel more at ease.”


These officers never know what to expect each day, but they’re committed to serving the public however they can. Officer Tschetter said, “I prefer that animal call than some of the calls that I have to go to. I’d rather have that than a bank robbery…someone is shootin’ at you or something like that, so handling a snake isn’t a big deal.

Officials believe this animal is a former pet. The snake is now in the care of animal services, and if its owner doesn’t show up, then Florida Fish and Wildlife will help find it a new home.

Did you know that venomous snakes and pet pythons live in Tampa Bay neighborhoods? Click here to find out

Are you wondering what kind of pets your neighbors keep? The map below shows residents with licenses to possess or exhibit venomous reptiles or reptiles of concern.

Here is more information about the snakes and reptiles identified above.

  • VIPERIDAE: A poisonous viper known for long fangs. It’s found around the world, such as true vipers, bush vipers, rattlesnakes, pit vipers and adders.
  • ELAPIDAE: These tropical and subtropical venomous snakes include cobras, adders and mambas.
  • COLUBRIDAE: This is the largest snake family, comprising 2/3 of all snake species. It’s a catch-all that includes venomous such as boomslang, as well as nonvenomous snakes including king snakes, garter snakes and rat snakes.
  • HELODERMATIDAE: These venomous lizards include gila monsters. They have grooved hollow fangs in their lower jaw.


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