WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A runaway reptile has people talking in a West Palm Beach neighborhood. They found a large Burmese python on the loose and the commotion has once again focused attention on a dangerous and exotic import. These kinds of pythons have grabbed national headlines for the havoc they can wreak on other wildlife in the Everglades. The snakes are adopted as pets when their small, but they can often grow into very big problems.
Residents along Kanuga Drive said they were right in the path of a seven foot long Burmese python. Police say the snake broke free from a nearby mobile home that is occupied by David Beckett, 51.
"I can catch it, I could have probably caught it," said neighbor Phillip Harris. He wonders how close the python may have come to his home. "If it got over here in my yard it's because it can actually hide over here," he said.
Wildlife officials said the snake was strong enough to push its way out of a small aquarium enclosure.
"It's going to look for every possibility to escape that small, confined area," said David Hitzig of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, where the snake is now being held.
Investigators say the python made it out of the mobile home, off of the property, and slithered hundreds of yards into a parking lot before it was finally spotted and called into police. Officers moved in and were able to round up the reptile.
A 2010 state law banned ownership of several python species. People who had them as pets before that time can keep them but only if they hold a special license. Investigators say the owner of this snake did not have proper permits of adequate caging. Beckett is charged with two misdemeanors and is due in court in July.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission intends to find the python a new home.
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