15-foot python found in Missouri backyard
WARREN COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) -- It had been a terrifying past few days for a neighborhood in rural Missouri: there was massive snake on the loose.
Small animals had disappeared, and parents were keeping their children close.
Then the terror finally ended around 2:30 Tuesday morning.
Troy Dement, 3, told FOX 2 all about it.
"You know there are snakes out here," said.
True, residents are used to seeing snakes around, but 14' 7", 160-pound Burmese Pythons? You don't see those every day.
"[Troy] he was right by my side the last 3 days because I didn't want him near something of this size," said Troy's mom, Leagh Dement.
Larry Fahrig, a neighbor, says he was the first one to see it when he spotted the beast going after his poodle on Sunday night. He called his neighbors for help but the snake slithered away before they arrived.
Burmese Pythons are carnivores. They kill their prey by constriction; suffocating small animals then swallowing them whole.
One neighbor had two dogs disappear, but doubted the snake ate them. Another one had three chickens vanish in recent days.
Though other common predators in the area like owls and coyotes typically leave behind partial carcasses or a pile of feathers, these chickens disappeared without a trace.
Residents called the sheriff's department but said it was of no help.
They finally contacted a snake expert who offered to capture it for them but said it would be a few days because he was out of town.
"I was terrified," said Pauline Horstdaniel after seeing the snake. "I got my husband out of bed. He was out there in his underwear with his gun."
They feared his handgun wouldn't be enough to stop the snake, so they called Troy's dad who killed the snake with two blasts of a shotgun.
Residents didn't want to kill the snake but felt they had no choice.
"It's a shame that animals have to be killed because somebody just didn't care about it," Fahrig said.
From its markings the snake appeared to be a Burmese Python, which don't grow or live in the wild of Missouri.
Though it's somewhat of a common exotic pet, there were no reports of any missing pet snakes in the area.
A Department of Conservation spokesman told FOX 2 pet Burmese Pythons often get too big for their owners to handle and the owners dump them in the wild.