March 16, 2010

Woman finds python in her washer

— The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Nuisance wildlife specialist Richard Burton, left, holds an 8-foot long non-venomous reticulated python as wildlife rehabilitator Jen Lewis calls a friend to positively identify the type of snake, at The Kennel Shop in Lewiston, Me., Wednesday, July 16, 2008. The snake was found in a Gorham, Maine women's washing machine. (AP Photo/Sun Journal, Daryn Slover)


GORHAM — A Gorham woman got the shock of her life when she found an 8-foot snake mixed in with clothes in her washing machine.

The snake, identified as a reticulated python, somehow got into the water pipes of Mara Ranger's 1800s-era farmhouse and slithered into the machine.

After Ranger took her blue jeans out of the machine Wednesday, she reached back into the load and felt something move.

''I jumped back and all of sudden its head starts coming out of the washing machine and it looked huge,'' Ranger told WMTW-TV.

Ranger quickly closed the lid and called police and an animal control officer, but they didn't want anything to do with the reptile.

When Richard Burton, who operates Maine Animal Damage Control in Lewiston, arrived at Ranger's house, he could barely believe his eyes.

Burton reached into the machine wearing a pair of welding gloves, expecting to come out with a 4-foot snake. But when he pulled the animal out, it kept coming and coming -- all 8 feet of it.

Once out of the machine, the angry snake wrapped itself around Burton's hand, cutting off the blood flow. Burton then wrestled the scaly snake into a plastic bag, tied it shut and brought it to Lewiston.

That's where Jen Lewis, a wildlife rehabilitator who works at the Kennel Shop, identified it as a python. The snakes kill prey with their teeth but are not poisonous, she said.

The snake was resting easy Thursday at the state-run Maine Wildlife Park in Gray while arrangements were being made to take it to the York Animal Kingdom in York.

But how the snake ended up in the washing machine remains a mystery. Burton guessed it was somebody's pet and that the owner ended up tossing it out into the wild when it got too big. It then made its way through the water pipes and into the washing machine, probably after the load was done, he said.

In the meantime, Ranger said she's a little paranoid.

''Now that it's gone, I'm going to be checking crevasses and corners,'' Ranger said. ''I'm going to be looking in the tub first -- before and after, maybe even during, the rinse cycle.''

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