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2014-03-20

A snake is a snake is a snake - not!

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Several readers had comments regarding the article "'Giant huge snake' found on riverbank," published in the Thursday, March 13, edition of the Bandera County Courier.
It appears the "giant huge snake" encountered by law enforcement officers on the banks of the Medina River was not a Burmese python but rather a Columbian red-tailed boa constrictor.
Alan Kamion with the Office of Administrative Services in the Harris County Community Services Department has two of each species. He suggested that if both snakes were Googled, the differences would be apparent. Well, maybe to an expert it's apparent. Refer to photos accompanying this article.
Additionally, Jennifer Greene, online marketing manager of LLLReptile and Supply Company, Inc., in California, pointed out what is also obvious to experts.
She suggested the Colombian red-tailed boa constrictor in the front-page photo was a full grown adult that was likely an escaped pet or a recently deceased one that had not been disposed of properly.
"As noted in the article, the climate in most of the US is much, much too cold in winter for any larger tropical snake species to survive overnight," Greene wrote in a Monday, March 17, email to the Courier. "Temperatures below 70 degrees often result in respiratory infections that lead to death, and freezing temperatures will kill any tropical species overnight."
She also noted that Burmese pythons are "hot topics" right now. No doubt because they are currently decimating indigenous species of animals and reptiles in the Florida Everglades.
Closer to home, Roy Chancy, assistant general manager of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District, had a Colombian red-tailed boa for 29 years. "When I saw the picture, I immediately knew what it was. It really took me back. Who told you it was a python anyway?"
The answer to that question is: Every law enforcement officer interviewed by the Courier. According to one, a "snake scientist" - aka herpetologist - had even confirmed the snake's species. It just goes to prove you can't believe everything you hear - and certainly not everything you read in a newspaper!
Let it be known, the next time a "giant huge snake" is found on the banks of the Medina River, snake guru Chancy will receive the first call from the Courier.