Last Update: 8/15/2013 2:37:00 PM
7-foot long boa constrictor goes missing from Swarthmore home
SWARTHMORE - The owners of a missing boa constrictor desperately want to find their pet of 18 years and are holding out hope he will be located before he gets himself into a jam.
"It would be nice if everyone knows he's a pet, he's not going to cause anyone any harm," owner David Spiegel of Swarthmore, Delaware County, said Wednesday. "We are just looking to get him back safe and sound."
Snakey the boa constrictor is 7-feet long and lives with Spiegel, a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior, his wife Linda, their two cats Sam and Luna, and Rudi, a tiny Morkie dog.
The pets, Spiegel said, get along famously, and the hundreds of photographs on the Spiegel's computer seem to document those friendships, as well as Snakey's longtime affiliation with their extended family.
"He's been handled and raised with people," Spiegel said. "Our children grew up with him, and we've brought him into schools."
During the summer months, Spiegel said he lets Snakey outside to soak up the sun.
"He'll curl up in a spot, and we check on him periodically," he said.
However on Monday morning, the Spiegel's went outside by the back door of their Park Avenue home where Snakey had been napping and he was gone.
"Guess we waited too long to check on him," Spiegel said.
After discovering that his pet was missing, Spiegel filed a missing snake report with the borough police department. He told the responding officer he had searched his home and property, but could not find his pet.
According to the Spiegel's, the slithery reptile had escaped once before and was located a few blocks away by a Swarthmore College employee. The man picked up the snake, put him in a pillowcase and called Linda Spiegel to come pick him up.
This time, Police Chief Brian Craig said, his department has alerted residents about the missing snake out of "an abundance of caution."
Many people fear snakes, a phobia called ophidiophobia. But is the missing boa dangerous?
"I'm not a snake expert, my thought would be that it is more of a threat to small animals," Craig said.
That is exactly what Spiegel said, adding that the snake's normal diet is rats, the smaller the better. If the rat is too large, Snakey becomes intimidated, he said.
"If he's out there long enough and gets hungry, he's going to hunt," Spiegel said, "small animals, like moles and mice."
Swarthmore Borough has no ordinance that addresses exotic pets, including boa constrictors. The fact that one is missing is no different than a missing cat or dog, an animal control officer told police.
"That is something we may take a look at now," Craig said.
Spiegel reiterated that Snakey is friendly, adding he's probably curled up somewhere chilling out.
"It's our hope that that whoever sees him isn't terrified of snakes," Spiegel said. "Were also hoping that anyone who finds him isn't angry or violent and wants to kill it."
The family has hung posters of the missing snake around the borough. If anyone spots the reptile, they are asked to call 911 immediately so it can be returned to its owners.