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Python found at Montague sewage plant

Recorder/Franz
Shane Rich of Greenfield and his daughter Alexis, 14, with the two ball pythons that were found in Montague, with the one his daughter is holding demonstrating its name sake behavior.

Recorder/Franz Shane Rich of Greenfield and his daughter Alexis, 14, with the two ball pythons that were found in Montague, with the one his daughter is holding demonstrating its name sake behavior. Purchase photo reprints »

MONTAGUE — All manner of things could be expected to show up at a sewage plant, but what a guest discovered Thursday morning was decidedly unexpected.

“We thought it was a boa constrictor, but it actually turned out to be a python,” said Tina Tyler, an employee of the town’s sewage treatment plant. “Much better, right?”

The snake was found next to an outdoor treatment tank in the early morning cold before 6 a.m. by another employee of the plant on Greenfield Road.

“The first gentleman who got here was doing something near the tank and happened to step on it a little bit, and he looked down and he went ‘whoa — it’s a snake,’” Tyler said.

“So we ended up catching it and putting it in a rubbish barrel,” Tyler said, lifting the sluggish snake from behind the head.

Tyler theorizes that the snake chose the spot for the tank’s relative warmth.

Fortunately for its discoverers, the reptile eventually turned out to be a ball python, a nonvenomous species with the not particularly aggressive habit of curling into a ball when threatened.

Tyler said after looking the markings up online, employees initially thought it was a boa constrictor, also nonvenomous and, Tyler said, not particularly worrisome at 3 feet long.

After consultation with the police dispatcher and attempts to reach a Wendell animal rescuer, employees called Black Jungle Terrarium Supply, a Turners Falls shop specializing in snakes, frogs and carnivorous plants.

The shop directed them to a former employee, Shane Rich, who handled another recent snake discovery. Shane’s wife Cindy Rich came to collect the snake, Tyler said, and established the snake’s species.

Through the Montague Police dispatcher, Rich and the terrarium supply, Tyler gathered a second python, closer to 5 feet long, that had been found Sept. 27 in the area of the bike path, which passes close by the treatment plant.

Black Jungle co-owner Richard Revis said ball pythons are popular pets due to their relatively small size and docility, and were most likely released into the wild by a pet-owner leaving the area who didn’t want to deal with finding them a new home.

Revis said the snakes are native to Africa and releasing them in New England is a death sentence.

The snakes are too large to make appealing prey for possums or raccoons and need little food — small rodents — themselves, but the climate is too cold for the snake’s health even in summer and they would have died in winter, according to Revis.

Most pet stores will not accept unwanted pets because they already have enough of their own, Revis said, but classifieds can do the trick.

“It is so very simple to re-home things through Craigslist,” he said.

Some rare ball python variations will sell for over $20,000, according to Revis.

Revis said the Richs breed pythons and now have charge of the snakes.

Cindy Rich said Thursday’s snake is in pretty good condition, and the first snake is eating well and gaining weight.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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