Pet snake strangles toddler to death

Pet snake strangles toddler to death
July 04, 2009 Print Ready Email Article

A 2.5M-LONG pet Burmese python broke out of its enclosure and strangled a 2-year-old girl in her bedroom at a central Florida home on Wednesday.

Click to see larger image
DANGEROUS PET: US authorities remove a Burmese python from the home where it killed a 2-year-old girl. PICTURES: AP

Shaiunna Hare was already dead when paramedics arrived at about 10 am, police Lieutenant Bobby Caruthers told Associated Press.

Mr Charles Jason Darnell, the snake’s owner and the boyfriend of Shaiunna’s mother, discovered the snake missing from its enclosure.

He went to the girl’s room where he found the snake beside the girl, who had bite marks on her head, said Lt Caruthers.

Not knowing what else to do, Mr Darnell, 32, stabbed the snake until he was able to pry the child away.

An emergency call recorded a sobbing caller saying: ‘The baby’s dead!

‘Our stupid snake got out in the middle of the night and strangled the baby.’

Click to see larger image
Mr Charles Darnell hugs girlfriend Jaren Hare, the child’s mum.

Authorities did not identify the caller and removed the person’s name from the recording.

‘She got out of the cage last night and got into the baby’s crib and strangled her to death,’ the caller said.

Authorities removed the snake from the home that same afternoon after obtaining a search warrant.

The snake, which was still alive, was placed in a bag and then inside a dog crate.

Mr Darnell did not have a permit for the snake, which makes it a second-degree misdemeanour, said Ms Joy Hill, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

He has not been charged, but investigators were looking into whether there was child neglect or if any other laws were broken.

Ms Hill said the snake will be placed with someone who has a permit, pending an investigation into the girl’s death.

The Humane Society Of The United States said at least 12 people have been killed in the US, including this death, by pet pythons since 1980. Of that, five were children.

Snakes and deaths

Burmese pythons are not native to Florida but they easily survive in the state and can reach a length of 8m and weigh more than 90kg.

Other than some owners freeing pythons into the wild, scientists also speculate that a number of Burmese pythons escaped in 1992 from pet shops battered by Hurricane Andrew and have been reproducing since.

‘People purchase these animals when they’re small. When they grow, they either can’t control them or release them.’

Mr George Van Horn, owner of Reptile World Serpentarium, said the strangulation could have occurred because the snake felt threatened or because it thought the child was food.

‘They are always operating on instinct,’ he said.

‘Even the largest person can be overpowered by a python.’

Earlier this year, in February, another wild animal kept as a pet was involved in attack, and it too had to be killed.

Ms Sandra Herold’s 90kg pet chimpanzee, who once starred in TV commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola, was shot dead by police after a violent rampage that left her friend badly mauled.

Victim Charla Nash suffered traumatic facial injury, including the loss of her nose, upper and lower lips, eyelids and the bony structures in her mid-face, and has filed a US$50m ($70m) lawsuit against Ms Herold.


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2 Responses to “Pet snake strangles toddler to death”

  1. pobept Says:

    Anyone that thinks they can safely own, house, and handle any wild animal is sadly mistaken and many pay the price for their ignorance.

  2. Baby names search - Search for sandra Says:

    […] Pet snake strangles toddler to death […]

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