Mack Ralbovsky, left, of the Rainforest Reptile Shows, gets assistance from Vermont game wardens Tim Carey, center, and Wes Butler as they remove a reticulated python, between 17 and 18 feet long, from the home of Pat Howard Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in North Clarendon, Vt. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)
Two snakes outgrow Vermont, move to Massachusetts
September 08, 2015
Two giant Southeast Asian pythons have been rescued by a snake collector. They were turned over to Vermont game wardens. Now they are headed to a sanctuary.
The larger of the two reticulated pythons was a female. It was picked up Aug. 25 by experts from the Massachusetts-based Rainforest Reptile Shows. They had help from three Vermont game wardens. The python was between 17 and 18 feet long. It weighed about 220 pounds. A slightly smaller male was about 15 feet long. It weighed about 150 pounds.
The snake collector is Pat Howard. He took note of their size after the snakes had been loaded into plastic tubs for their trip to Massachusetts. He said he was "smart enough to realize that snake is bigger than I can safely take care of."
"Come feeding time is the most dangerous time to be around a snake," said Howard. He has kept snakes for decades. He has almost two-dozen smaller snakes. He keeps them in his North Clarendon, Vermont home. "That is when anything goes. And you certainly want to be out of the way. A snake that size got ahold of you, if you did not have any help with you. You are a goner."
The reticulated python is named for the geometric patterns on its skin. It is one of the largest snake species in the world. It can reach almost 30 feet long. The largest can weigh 350 pounds.
Howard does educational programs with some of his snakes. He sets up a booth at the Vermont State Fair. It is in Rutland. He said he got the pythons just days earlier from a New York man who could not keep them. He called the bigger one "humongous." He knew he didnot have the permits to keep them. So he called state game wardens.
Howard said many species of exotic snakes can be bought inexpensively when they are small. People frequently call him when they can no longer take care of them.
Vermont Game Warden Chad Barrett handles exotic wildlife. He said the two pythons were probably the biggest exotic snakes his agency has had to deal with. He praised Howard for promptly turning the giant snakes over to the proper authorities.
"This one went very smoothly," he said.
The Rainforest Reptile Shows is based in Beverly, Massachusetts. It does educational and entertainment programs with snakes and other reptiles. It also will take homeless snakes, said Rainforest snake expert Mack Ralbovsky. He drove to Vermont with co-worker EmmaLee Eng to take the snakes back to Massachusetts.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How is Pat Howard smart about snakes?
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