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Salem Police Called to Retrieve 6-Foot Boa Constrictor

Salem Police Called to Retrieve 6-Foot Boa Constrictor

The Boston Herald via YellowBrix

August 31, 2010

SALEM — As a police sergeant, Mike Wagner is used to dealing with all kinds of criminal suspects. But when he was dispatched to Kings Court condominium complex last week, Wagner ended up apprehending an unusual escapee.

It was a 6-foot boa constrictor.

A surprised neighbor saw the snake in the grass outside the Tiffany Road complex Wednesday afternoon and called police. Wagner arrived about 1:40 p.m. to find the reptile on the lawn.

“It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen around here,” Wagner said yesterday. “He was fully extended.”

The snake, cold and wet from rain and temperatures in the 60s, barely moved. It was only after Wagner picked it up that the creature wrapped itself around the sergeant’s arm.

“I grabbed him by the head and the body, and just picked him up,” Wagner said, explaining how he saw an officer grab a large snake the same way on the television show “Cops.”

The snake, described as a common boa constrictor, didn’t put up a struggle as Wagner apprehended the reptile — just like anyone else on the loose, but without needing handcuffs.

The female boa, nicknamed Sammy by Wagner, was taken to Zoo Creatures in Plaistow, which specializes in the care of snakes and other exotic pets.

If no one has claimed the snake after a week, Zoo Creatures is allowed to keep the animal and sell it, Wagner said.

The snake, which could grow to 8 feet long and about 5 inches wide, was malnourished when she arrived at the shop, but is slowly recuperating, according to Ryan Caron, general manager of Zoo Creatures.

“She is recovering,” Caron said yesterday. “I’m just waiting to see if she has a respiratory problem.”

Since the snake was skinny, Caron suspects the reptile either escaped or was released to fend for herself in the wild.

Snakes can develop respiratory ailments even several days after being exposed to the cold since the air temperature needs to be between 78 and 90 degrees, Caron said.

“They are pretty easy to take care of, but some people are not responsible,” he said. “It got caught in that cold, rainy weather.”

Caron said an animal needing care is dropped off at the store an average of once every two weeks because the owner has trouble meeting its needs or is told by a landlord that the pet needs to go.

Snakes are the most common animals Zoo Creatures receives, but the public shouldn’t be worried about snakes on the loose, he said.

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