An “unhappy” 16-foot albino reticulated python was rescued by an animal shelter in Austin, Texas on Monday – after being missing for months.
The Austin Animal Center wrote on its verified Facebook page that they received a call about the huge reptile on Monday.
“Due to the temperatures the snake was lethargic enough that a couple of residents were able to catch it and keep it in their garage,” wrote the municipal shelter, which is run by the city of Austin.
And whereas often callers exaggerate the size of snakes when calling the shelter, in this case the python was just as big as the callers thought.
Residents said they had been seeing the massive snake in the neighborhood since July, according to the Facebook post. The shelter put the snake in temporary overnight housing, then asked the Austin Zoo to provide “more appropriate” housing for the time being.
In the meantime, shelter staff members recalled a social media post they’d seen months previously about a missing python. Some sleuthing led them to a post on community app Nextdoor, which included information about the owner of the python.
Shelter staff contacted the owner, who identified the snake based on a “unique feature.”
And they found out the owner of the snake – a female named Snow – had been visiting Austin from Dallas when a thief broke into his car, stealing a tote bag with Snow inside. It’s unclear at what point the thief let the snake free to wander around Austin.
Now snake and owner have been happily reunited, according to the Facebook post.
Reticulated pythons are one of the world’s longest snake species, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They can exceed 20 feet at their longest. In the wild, the snakes are found in southern and southeast Asia, although they are bought and sold as pets around the world.