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Published: Tuesday, 6/25/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Python eludes South Toledo owner

4.5-foot-long snake disappears from home

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
An albino Burmese python similar to this one has gone missing from the home of its South Toledo owner. The 18-month-old snake was last seen on June 16. An albino Burmese python similar to this one has gone missing from the home of its South Toledo owner. The 18-month-old snake was last seen on June 16.
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A 4.5-foot long albino Burmese python has gone missing from its home on Western Avenue near Airport Highway.

Its owner, Chad Luce, last saw the snake June 16.

“He somehow got out of his cage,” Mr. Luce said. “I’ve searched the house, and he’s nowhere to be found.”

Otis, who was named after a character on the Andy Griffith Show by Mr. Luce’s dad, has a history of escaping his cage, but has never gotten out of the house before.

Mr. Luce acquired the 18-month old snake from a friend when the snake was a baby.

According to ReptileChannel.com, the Burmese python (python bivittatus) is one of the six largest snakes in the world, native to a large variation of tropic and subtropic areas of Southern and Southeast Asia. Its albino form is especially popular. They are white with patterns in butterscotch yellow and burnt orange.

Burmese pythons eat amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals that vary in size from small rodents to deer. They are often found near water and are sometimes semiaquatic, but can also be found in trees. Wild variations of the species average 12-feet long, but may reach up to 19 feet. They are good climbers, according to the site.

Mr. Luce is offering a cash reward for the snake. He can be reached at 419-262-8936.

Gary Hune, a board member of the Toledo Herpetological Society who has owned snakes for almost 30 years, said the police often refer callers to him when they get calls about snakes being found. The public can reach him directly at 419-349-8405 when they find a snake.

“I’d much rather someone call me than hurt the snake,” he said. “The snake didn’t do anything wrong."

Snakes are clever at hiding and this one could be in Mr. Luce’s plumbing system or up in the rafters of his attic, Mr. Hune said.

Val Hornyak, lead keeper of the Toledo Zoo Herpetology Department, said the snake might be able to get through an open door, loose window screen or other opening. More likely, it’s looking for a snug, warm place such as under or behind a refrigerator, washer, dryer, couch, or in a desk drawer.

If the snake is healthy, it could go several months without eating, Ms. Hornyak said.

Although the snake in question is not big enough to kill anyone, it could try to bite, Mr. Hune said. In order to move a snake safely it is best to throw a towel over its head so it cannot see, he said.

“There’s a greater chance of a dog or cat hurting it than the other way around,” Mr. Hune said. “It could kill a rabbit or cat, but isn’t big enough to swallow it.”

Mr. Hune also owns an albino Burmese python, which is about 6 feet long and about 10 years old. He uses it in his Reptiles on Wheels educational program.

“They are quite friendly when properly socialized,” he said.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @TanyaIrwin.



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