UPDATE: Search for missing python continues Wednesday
Mat-Su Borough officials say the search continues for an escaped 17-foot python in the Meadow Lakes area.
According to a Facebook post, the animal remained missing as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“Mat-Su Borough Animal Care officer Darla Erksine searched for the snake this morning and this afternoon,” the Borough wrote. “She suspects the snake is hibernating due to the frosty temperatures at night.”
It's not every day that a 17-foot-long, 100-pound python gets misplaced.
Still, that's what one pet owner is dealing with after his pet snake disappeared early last week.
David Hyde of Meadow Lakes said Tuesday that Sam, an albino Burmese python, has been missing near W. Mallard Lane since early last week. Sam is believed to be on the loose somewhere in the Meadow Lakes area north of Wasilla, according to Hyde and Borough officials.
"I'm bummed out," Hyde said. "He was okay company."
Hyde said he was working on his house Monday when Sam slithered out an open doorway of the home. Sam, Hyde said, can consume up to about 75 pounds of food in a single sitting.
"I didn't get all the doors closed, and he just took advantage of it," Hyde said. "But (a) house that way, they're raising food as far as Sam is concerned. They have turkeys, they have chickens, they have rabbits, and he can eat any one of them."
Hyde said Sam is on a 14-day feeding cycle, and that he'd fed the snake just before it escaped. That means Sam, if still alive, likely won't need to eat for a while yet.
Still, in a statement released by the Mat-Su Borough, Animal Care Director Kirsten Vesel asked residents in the area to "bring in small pets, and be vigilant of your yard right now."
The release also stated Alaska's cold temperatures could weaken the snake or compel it to seek a warm place, such as a crawlspace or trailer.
"I was worried about my cats after the first day," said Doug Dreyer, "but now I'm realizing, oh, maybe it's a little bit chilly from what I see on those wildlife shows."
Other neighbors, especially those with small children, aren't so easily convinced.
"My kids thought we were making up some story," said Leroy Lopez, who was sent into a frenzy when his four-year-old son had wandered off Tuesday afternoon. "The guy said his snake is missing. So it's not some scary Harry Potter story - there's a real snake running around."
With the help of neighbors and Alaska State Troopers, the boy was found at a neighbor's house after a short period of time. Lopez, however, has lost any sense of safety for the time being, saying he'll likely have to keep the kids in the house or at least always have an especially watchful eye on them.
"There is a 17-foot-long snake around here," he said. "It's been missing for days. (The owner) came and told us, but I just don't get it."
Animal Control officials said the python was being legally kept in its Meadow Lakes home, but that such pets are far from common in Alaska. An animal control officer also said that the owner had been going door-to-door and posting notices around the area to alert his neighbors of the missing reptile.
"If anybody sees him, keep their eye on him, and call me," Hyde said. "I'll come get him, no problem. I'll just throw him on my back and carry him home."
Borough officials ask that anyone who spots the bright yellow snake please call 911 immediately.