To those who don't particularly care for snakes, this is the stuff of nightmares.
We recently brought you the story of a couple of large snake skin that folks in Bangor found on two different sidewalks.
News of the Bangor sheddings made its way through New England and eventually to a man named Charles Ballas. Ballas used to own a pet shop called Never End Exotics in Worcester, Massachusettes. His specialty -- as he sold them both wholesale and retail and used to breed them -- is snakes. When a friend, who lives in Florida but is from the Bangor area, sent him a copy of our story, he recognized the shedding immediately.
"That animal's big! That's the back end of the shed, probably the back quarter of the snake, and judging by the width of the belly scales, down to the vent of the snake, I'm guessing that snake is probably 8 or 9 feet," Ballas said.
"It's a thinner-bodied snake, but it's an Unholy Terror! That's a Reticulated Python!... That is definitely a Reticulated Python. They're probably the nastiest Pythons. ... They're nasty, nasty animals."
According to The Natural History Museum, reticulated pythons are known for their enormous size.
"The reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus) is the longest snake in the world, regularly reaching over 6.25 meters in length. Reticulated pythons live in southeast Asia and while they are typically found in rainforests, woodland and grasslands, their habitat preference seems to depend on their location. Reticulated pythons are known to climb trees by firmly wrapping their bodies around the trunks and using muscular upward force."
Ballas said this 9-footer could be as young as 1 year old, which means it might have some more growing to do.
"When I bred them, I could get them 8 feet in a year, easily, but that's feeding them a lot...once a week. At that size, they could take a rabbit."
Ballas says he thinks the animal either escaped from its owners or perhaps was set free. Either way, he believes the big animal used to be someone's pet.
"That's definitely from the pet trade, or more likely somebody's pet because I know in Maine you can't sell them and the pet shops are very, very strict about it. I'd bet a paycheck that's somebody's pet."
So where should folks keep a watchful eye out for this sizeable reptile? Ballas says it's not just where you're looking, but when.
"Early morning, when the sun comes up, you'll find that thing basking, probably on the pavement because the pavement is dark and they'll go out there to absorb the sunlight. At night, they'll find someplace to hide; an abandoned car or underneath somebody's porch, some sort of crawl space. They'll go someplace where they're safe. They don't actually sleep, they just slow down a lot."
If you do spot such a snake, it's probably best to call animal control. But if you do attempt to catch it, there are some things you're going to want to be mindful of when approaching them.
"If you try to catch it, it's gonna bite you. The way I would catch it, if I saw it...the easiest way to do it is to put a towel on its head. Put a towel on its head and it will just stop. Then you pin it behind the neck and you watch out for the coils. "
"That snake isn't strong enough to actually kill a human, but it will wrap around ya, thinking it's gonna kill ya. They bite. They coil. And when their prey exhales, they don't let them inhale again."
If the thought of a 9-foot python slithering about in the city has you a bit concerned, Ballas said if it is a snake that is on the loose, it's likely the snake will only be active for the next few months.
"It's not gonna live. If you don't find it, as soon as it gets cold, it's as good as dead. That is not a native snake."
Bangor's Animal Control Officer Tricia Bruen has been informed of the situation and says it's not uncommon for snake sheddings to get thrown out in the garbage, and then pop out of trash cans in transit to the landfill.
Either way, probably not a bad idea to be a little more mindful of your own surroundings, and that of your kids and small pets, just to be on the safe side.
It's only fitting that a big snake might be roaming around the landscape might be roaming around the countryside of what is the biggest state in New England.
Here's a look at why Maine is bigger than those other states.