A Florida jury has convicted a couple of 3rd degree murder and child neglect after their 8-foot-6-inch, 13-pound albino Burmese python killed their 2 year old while she lay sleeping in her crib in 2009.
Watch the Video of the Verdict and Case Details:
Should Children and Pythons Cohabitate?
The Humane Society has logged over 200 constrictor incidents in the US. This isn’t a case of ‘it depends on how you raise them’ as goes for many dog breeds. Pythons are fed live animals and locked in steel cages or covered in glass tanks for a reason: they kill.
Many people purchase the snakes when they are small, controllable and subdued. Unfortunately they don’t remain that way – some breeds reaching up to 30 foot in length and being contained in enclosures that are far too small; causing an increase in aggression. The fact that the vast majority of constrictor deaths are due to the snake actually finding a way out of it’s enclosure should be a red flag to their propensity to escape. And, far worse, to seek out a more natural encounter with the closest food source.
In 2010, Florida Senate passed a law banning the owning, breeding and selling of “pythons and other reptiles of concern” with the allowance that the Dept of Fish and Wildlife can add new breeds to the ban as they see fit in the future. This law was largely passed due to another issue with constrictors being released or escaping into the wild (primarily during hurricanes). It became so prevalent that they are now breeding in the Everglades and threatening the population of animals they consider as prey…including attacking and defeating even adult alligators. The vast majority of constrictor attacks on people end the same way: killing the snake (often cutting it’s head off) just to get it to release it’s hold. Why then do we continue to think we can control these powerful animals? Much less the child asleep and unaware…
If an adult wishes to keep an aggressive reptile then that’s an assumed risk. As it is for any other adult making the choice to remain in the home. But a child has no choice and, ironically, is usually the first victim. To be fair I don’t think constrictors are the only dangerous pet. Ferrets are known to maim children to the point of chewing off fingers and I would never have one (or any other rodent) in a house with an infant or small child – but the major difference is that death by ferret is practically unheard of.
Let me be clear: I do not hate snakes. They are beautiful, amazing animals that deserve to live in their natural habitat, squeeze their natural prey and live long snakey lives. And I know there are snake owners who take proper and responsible care of their pets. But a home with a small child is no place for an animal known as a man eater.
Ban List for Constrictors in Florida according to Bill 318:
1.Burmese or Indian python (Python molurus)
2.Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)
3.African rock python (Python sebae)
4.Amethystine or scrub python (Morelia amethystinus)
6.Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus)
7.Any other reptile designated as a reptile of concern by the commission