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July 21, 2022

Police in Lehigh Valley shoot pet snake wrapped around unconscious man's neck

The 28-year-old man was in cardiac arrest after his 15-foot snake constricted his body, police said

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Police shoot snake to death Amanda Rossmann/USA TODAY NETWORK

Police in Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh Valley, shot a 15-foot snake to death after it wrapped itself around a 28-year-old man. The man was passed out and suffering from cardiac arrest. The snake above was not the one killed by police.

Police in Upper Macungie Township shot and killed a 15-foot snake Wednesday to save the life of a man whose pet had wrapped itself around his neck. 

Authorities were called to a home in Fogelsville around 2 p.m. for a report of a man in cardiac arrest. When officers arrived, the 28-year-old man was found lying unresponsive on the floor with the midsection of the snake locked around his body. 

One of the officers fired a shot at the snake's head, which was at enough of a distance from the man's body to minimize the risk of further injury. When the bullet struck, the reptile's grip loosened and police were able to pull the animal off of the man, who was not identified  He was taken to a hospital for further testing and his condition had not been updated by police on Thursday. 

Neighbors told police that the constrictor snake was the man's pet, but authorities did not provide any information about the species. The snake's life could not be saved, police said. Among constrictor species, ball pythons and red-tailed boas are among the most popular pet snakes. 

People who own pet snakes are strongly advised to ensure that their homes have enough space for the reptiles. Zoo Check, an organization that advocates for the protection of wildlife, does not recommend having giant snakes as pets because they can be a risk to human health in unnatural habitats. Apart from injuries to people, pet snakes also are at risk of being killed or abused if their owners don't possess the skills to properly care for them. 

Most snake attacks in home settings happen because the animals mistake people for food, the organization said. 

In the wild, unless threatened, most snake species are not aggressive toward humans. About 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about five people die from such bites annually since most are able to seek immediate medical attention. Incidents involving constrictor snakes are much more rare, resulting in just 17 deaths in the United States from 1978-2013, per a report from the Humane Society. 

Last summer, a Bucks County teenager was bitten multiple times by a venomous copperhead snake at High Rocks Park in Tinicum Township. The girl survived and recovered after receiving medical care at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

In January, a Maryland man with 124 pet snakes died after he was bitten by a venomous snake.

Reptile Craze says that it is safer for people to consider smaller snakes as pets, recommending corn snakes that are not venomous and only grow to be four or five feet long. The blog says that people with children or novice reptile owners should avoid snakes such as anacondas, cobras, boa constrictors, pythons and trunk snakes.

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