Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Animal Control Seeks Smoyer Snake, Cautions Parents and Pet Owners

Dilshanie Perera

An errant reptile in Barbara Smoyer Park has been causing quite a stir. First sighted on July 3, the shy snake was last seen last week.

Princeton Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson said that the displaced creature is either a boa constrictor or a python, owing to its size and coloration. He described it as being 10 feet in length, with a girth of approximately four to six inches, and bearing a greenish-brown hue with a copper diamond pattern.

The snake is nonvenemous, and is not cause for particular concern, though Mr. Johnson suggested that park goers should “keep an eye on small pets and small kids,” and should avoid the tall grass area surrounding the pond at Smoyer.

Genus and species of snakes of this kind and size feed on very small mammals, and obtain their prey through the process of constriction, slowly wrapping themselves around their target and tightening their hold. They are not dangerous to humans, though vigilance is recommended.

Despite Animal Control’s efforts and Mr. Johnson’s sighting of the snake on four separate occasions, it has managed to evade capture. Upon seeing people, it usually “scurries away” Mr. Johnson reported.

Likely a pet whose owners illegally released it in the park, according to Mr. Johnson, it is the first released snake that he has encountered in his 17 years at Princeton Animal Control, though he did note that he has worked with problem pythons during his tenure.

While Animal Control is still endeavoring to find and apprehend the runaway reptile, Mr. Johnson said he suspects that the snake “went over the embankment” at the park and is now elsewhere.

The goal is to capture the serpent and send it to either the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife, or the Mercer County Wildlife Center, Mr. Johnson said, and emphasized that the curious should stay away and not endeavor to seize it themselves.

If you encounter a snake that fits the description above, call the Township Police at (609) 921-2100 or Animal Control at (609) 924-2728 immediately.

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