Manatee Co. neighborhood on edge with python on the loose

PARRISH, Fla. (WFLA) – An escaped Burmese python is on the loose in a Manatee County neighborhood and residents are on edge. The snake has been spotted around the Ancient Oaks neighborhood in Parrish, and experts say it could be dangerous to pets and children. 

Helen Borman has spotted cougars, bobcats and wild boar on her backyard wildlife camera. But earlier this month, a captured image had her perplexed. It was a large creature coiled up.

“When I checked my camera, I saw there was something on there I had never seen before…I saw this huge snake,” recalled Borman.

She sent the images to wildlife expert Justin Matthews, who confirmed it was a Burmese python.

“This is a dangerous snake to be around people’s pets, children,” said Matthews.

Burmese pythons are among the largest snake species in the world and have 88 teeth. This was likely an escaped pet. The snake is at least eight feet long.

“They get large enough, they could actually kill a full grown man,” Matthews explained.

Matthews is one of the few people in the region who are licensed to own one. These massive pythons snatch their prey at night.

“When it walks back by, the snake grabs it and then starts constricting,” said Matthews. “It squeezes until the heartbeat stops and then they swallow it whole.”

The snake is on the move. Some neighbors have reportedly seen it, and the snake possibly left a track at a nearby golf course. Locals are being cautious.

“They’re walking their pets out in the road rather than on the sidewalks or by the preserves,” said Borman.

As the weather cools this week, the snake may emerge, so Matthews will be working around the clock on the lookout. He’s also partnered with a professional python wrangler.

“We got the cold front coming and I’m gonna be out from early morning, Wednesday morning ’til Wednesday evening, looking for it. But, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Matthews.

Neighbors are keeping their pets away from wooded areas. Borman is keeping her dog safe.

“I won’t let her out at night. We don’t want anything to happen to her,” said Borman. “That is creepy. I come out here every night with my flashlight…. and my .45,” said Borman.

If you spot the snake, immediately report it to Justin Matthews Wildlife at 941-822-3272, or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922.

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