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An examination by a veterinarian determined the reptile has bruises and cracked ribs but is otherwise healthy.
Daily file photo by Deangelo McDaniel
An examination by a veterinarian determined the reptile has bruises and cracked ribs but is otherwise healthy.

Hartselle python has new friend; likely was loose for little time

By Deangelo McDaniel · 340-2469

HARTSELLE —The python that Hartselle officers captured Tuesday is probably not the one reported missing almost 12 years ago, a Cullman woman who rescues snakes and did not want to be identified said Wednesday.

She said pythons are tropical animals and would not survive one winter outside in the Tennessee Valley.

Hartselle Police Chief Ron Puckett said officers carried the reptile to Pet Depot in Decatur on Tuesday “because they have the facilities to take care of it.”

The woman picked up the snake Tuesday night and carried it to a veterinarian’s office Wednesday morning, She said the python has bruises and cracked ribs.

A driver who called the Police Department on Tuesday shortly after noon, said he thought he ran over the snake on Nance Ford Road.

Sgt. James Holladay responded to the call and, with the help of Lt. Robert Finn and a passer-by, captured the snake.

Hartselle, like most municipalities, does not have an ordinance that bans exotic animals. Puckett said police want to find the snake’s owner and return him.

The Cullman woman who now is caring for the snake said he is healthy, suggesting that he was well cared for and probably escaped or was released within the past week.

George Devalle of Decatur owns a python. He said it’s not uncommon for snake owners to release pythons in the wild, especially when they grow to the point that the animals need more than mice to eat.

“People have them as pets, and sometimes when they have children, they turn them loose,” Devalle said.

Devalle said his python is between 6 and 8 feet long. He said he traps rats to feed the animal.

“They will not eat dead animals,” he explained. “The heat of the animal being alive is what attracts the snake.

Because the snake did not strike at the officers, Devalle believes someone probably let him go.

“They probably couldn’t take care of him anymore or were moving,” he said.

About 10 years ago, Hartselle responded to a home in the area when a pet owner reported a python missing.

Officers never found the snake, leading some to believe that the python captured Tuesday may be the same one.

“I just don’t think so,” Devalle said. “If that snake had managed to survive in the wild for 10 years, he would have tried to bite the cops.”

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