Giant snake ‘circled man and ate dog’

TIGHT SPOT: Police estimate the boa constrictor seized at Singleton on Tuesday was 2.3 metres long. It is also suspected to have consumed a small dog and possibly circled a man expected to be face charges. Picture: NSW Police
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A MAN is likely facing charges after reportedly evading a circling boa constrictor confiscated from aSingleton home on Tuesday.

Police believe the 2.3 metre behemoth also devoured a small dog before it was seized from a property and put down.

Investigators expect to charge the man with possessing an exotic species without a licence after the 2.3-metre snake “may have eaten a small dog and attempted to constrict its owner in his sleep.”

Only licensed zoos and exhibitors can possess exotic reptiles in Australia under NSW Office of Environment and Heritage restrictions.

Officers seized the reptile from a Wentworth Avenue address on Tuesday after reports the owner was keeping the snake at the property.

Australian Reptile Park curator Liz Gabriel said a domesticanimal “like a little terrier” was roughly the size of creature a boa constrictor would target.

“It’s more unusual they’d try to constrict a person but look, it has happened before,” she said.“Really the only reason a constrictor would do that is to eat something it considers its prey.”

There are ten subspecies of boa constrictors, with the largest recorded stretching 5.5 metres long. More typically, they reach up to four metres in length and dwell in the Americas and some parts of the Caribbean.

Boa constrictors are typically nocturnal andgenerally live alone. The size of their prey increases as they age from rodents through to larger mammals and birds.

Authorities will euthanise the snake found in the Hunter, a decision attributed to the danger it poses to household pets and native mammals.

Given the reptile’s unclear origins, it could also carry disease and pose a broader biosecurity risk.

Investigations were continuing on Tuesday night.

Hunter Valley Zoo director Jason Pearson was unaware of the find at Singleton until contacted by Fairfax Mediabut said tropical snakes often thrived in Australia,a factor in their black market popularity.

Dr. Michelle Christy, National Incursion Response Facilitator for Invasive Animals CRC, told PestSmart Connect in 2015the constrictors’ large litters of live young allowed them to proliferate quickly from small numbers.

“It isn’t out of the question that a single pregnant female could establish a large population quickly,” she said.

In 2012 a fugitive boa constrictor sparked a hunt through western Newcastle.

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