13 FOOT BURMESE KILLS OWNER
Based on a New York Times Report by David Herszenhorn. Thursday -
October 10, 1996.
According to the New York Times, 19-year old Grant Williams of 365
East 183rd Street Bronx died as the result of an attack by his 13 foot
long Burmese Python which may have mistaken him as food.
The victim was found at about 1:30 PM on October 9th by a neighbor
lying in a pool of blood with the snake coiled around his torso in the
hallway of his apartment building. He was pronounced dead at Jacobi
Medical Center. An ambulance crew removed the snake from the victim
and it was taken to the Bronx Zoo.
According to the report Williams and his 17 year old brother Lamar
purchased the snake at a local pet store known as Pet City about five
months ago for $300.00.
This attack may be a feeding related incident as a live chicken was
found nearby, still in the box. Williams was apparently getting ready
to feed the snake, out of its cage. Pythons, like other snakes, have
an acute sense of smell. The detection of a food odor such as a
chicken and the proximity of Williams to the snake evidently led the
snake to mistake Williams as its prey or food.
This case, like others including cases seen by the undersigned in the
E.R. indicate that prey items such as rodents, chickens or rabbits do
not have to actually scent a human in order for a snake to attack
them. The mere presence of the food in the vicinity can set off a sort
of feeding frenzy.
Therefore feeding snakes, especially large ones capable of
inflicting significant injury or death, should be done with extreme
HerpMed strongly recommends that owners of large boids feed them only
in their enclosures or cages. Under no cricumstances should such
snakes be fed in the open or in a unrestrained manner. The mere
presence of food in the vicinity can set off an attack as has been
demonstrated countless times, often with tragic consequences.
Food should be inserted into the cage quickly and caefully, preferably
using long-handled tongs such as barbecue tongs. It need not be alive
and should be pre-killed to facilitate handling. It is important that
a snake in olfactory contact with food or prey not be permitted access
to its human caretaker. Feeding a large boid is not the same as
feeding your dog or cat.
Large boids should not be allowed to free-roam. They can unpredictaby
attack anyone in the household or escape by pushing out a window or
screen with relative ease. Anyone considering the acquisition of such
an animal should have the space and funds to house it adequately and
safely without resorting to allowing it free roaming privileges. Such
snakes should not be handled before or after feeding for several days
and then only if there are no olfactory stimuli to provoke a feeding
attack. In addition such animals should not be handled unless two or
more people are present capable of removing the snake should it
attempt an attack. Many jurisdictions prohibit the keeping of such
animals without proper permits or licenses. Doing so is not only a
legal violation, it is a breech of the public safety -- your own,
other members of your family and that of your neighbors and friends.
Questions, suggestions, comments for these guidelines are solicited.
Please contact: mailto://[email protected].
Please feel free to republish this page or disseminate this
information as widely as possible among the community of reptile
hobbyists and keepers.