This afternoon, I got my second chance to rescue the red tail boa constrictor that had showed up on a neighbor’s deck a couple of weeks back. Said neighbor’s adult son came over to say that the snake was back, and to ask whether it would help him keep the vermin down if he took it to his farm. My son Ian, who answered the door, called me to ask me. When Ian had relayed my answer back to him (“No, this is a tropical snake that wouldn’t last the winter outside” and so the snake should be captured and taken to a new home,) the gentleman indicated that he would be pleased for Ian to come and collect the snake.
Meanwhile, I drove home to oversee the more permanent placement of the now-boxed snake. I started by calling the Warrenville police to see if any escaped boas had been reported this summer—but no, they’d had no reports of missing snakes. So I called Willowbrook Wildlife Center, on the off chance that they knew of any reptile rescuers in the DuPage area. I know they can’t themselves help non-native species, but surely this snake wasn’t the only stray/released tropical reptile to have been found in DuPage County.
By the way, not only is releasing non-native species irresponsible to both the pet (which probably won’t survive long or well in the wild) and the environment (given the plants/prey eaten or otherwise killed if the abandoned pet does survive); but laws now make such practices illegal in many areas. Besides, rescue groups exist for just about any animal you can mention. If you can no longer keep a pet, a very short web search should find you a placement option—or you can offer the animal, for sale or free, on a service such as Craigslist.
Turns out I was right, that they do get calls on non-native snakes. But the bonus was that one of the volunteers working there today, Tim, not only keeps reptiles but breeds snakes, including red tail boas, and he was delighted to take her. (Tim recommended transporting the boa in a pillowcase.) If I could bring the snake over that afternoon, he could take it home at the end of his shift.
When I showed up, pillowcase in hand, Tim was waiting at the door and came out to meet me. He wanted a look right away, and was thrilled to see that I had, indeed correctly identified the neighborhood snake as a red tail boa constrictor. He checked the shape of her cloaca and decided the snake is probably a female. And, given her 4.5 foot length, he agreed with my guess that this was a “dumped” snake—a snake bought as a cute little pencil-sized hatchling by a person who did not understand the concept of “can grow to 8 feet long.”
She is very easy to handle, which made her recapture simple. Tim enthused about her good condition: well fed and looking close to ready to shed her skin. I gave Tim my email address, and I hope to have an update from him regarding the boa’s new home—and maybe some background on his other snakes: what varieties he has and how many eggs he’s had hatch out so far, for instance.
In the end, I’m very glad this beautiful boa found a knowledgeable and enthusiastic person to take care of her. And at less than 2 hours from the news the neighborhood boa had been spotted again to delivering her at Willowbrook, this may be the fastest re-homing I ever take part in.