Indiana Reptile Facility Tragedy

In case you haven’t heard, there was a tragic event that’s been all in the news this week. I wanted to share USARK’s statement on the matter (or on Facebook if their page isn’t loading), which summarizes the event as well as important reminders for safety and protocol.

We urge everyone in the herpetocultural community to become educated on proper handling protocols, techniques, and husbandry measures. Responsibility in animal ownership is paramount. Any facility workers or volunteers must be actively taught to minimize the already-small risks involved in keeping reptiles, with these precautions readily and frequently reviewed. Similarly, private keepers working with animals in their home should adopt formal protocols to mitigate any assumed risk.

In the wake of this heartbreaking loss, it is important to maintain both our composure and our compassion. The persecution of responsible reptile keepers and disproportionate restrictions on the ownership of these animals will sound appealing to some. With a knowledgeable perspective, these animals can be maintained without incident by utilizing sound practices and standards. *Please make this the last instance of such a tragedy, by following established practices and protocols. We again extend our condolences to family and friends.

What kind of protocols do you giant snake owners keep? What’s consider too large to handle safely on your own? This animal was “only” 8’ long.

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Only 8 feet? In my opinion if you handle an animal that’s 8ft by yourself, you are being irresponsible. Honestly I think it should be more like 7.5 or even 7 feet depending on the person’s height.

Length isn’t a good indicator alone, my 8.5 foot carpet python when I had her wasn’t an overpower threat to me at all, I have ball pythons at 5 foot that would have more potential than her. A 8 foot retic, burm, anaconda I would imagine being a different story. A 6 foot snake might have potential, I wouldn’t go by just length.

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I currently have two boa constrictors of my own, and though they are only baby’s in the grand scheme of it all I still know that if i slightly overlook one thing it could end in either the death of my snakes or my children.

My tanks (sliding glass doors) have locks on them but also I have a screw jamming each piece of glass along the trim as a extra precaution. It takes a extra few seconds to open/close but it’s worth it for my own sanity. Behind the lock I have a red sticker, so if I ever should forget to put the lock back on I have a bright visual way of noticing.

As for handling, I help my brother in law look after his 6ft boa constrictor (still a baby considering most) on a weekly basis. Safety wise we will never leave each other alone with her, not even for a moment. We don’t let her go hungry, she is fed every 10-12 days and we always check that she wants to be bothered with with the snake hook before we get her out. She is more of a floor snake than a picking up and handling snake but she does love to climb up your legs.

The power is crazy in these animal as anyone that had handled one will know and if you are scared it only makes it worse, 99% of the time they just want to use you as a anchor. People often think they are going to squeeze them to death but really a safe holding place is all they are after. On the opposite side though many owners (a few friends included) just don’t seem to understand that even though they arnt hostile animals, they are still very dangerous, they need respect not fear.

Personally, I would never handle a constrictor of any kind over 8ft without at least 3-4 people around me. I’d enjoy them from a close distance but never put myself withing reach without another person in reach of me.

This may be very controversial but I believe if your working with animals that size you should always keep a razor/Stanley knife to hand. I know it’s not the animals fault, it’s just nature, but so are human defences.

It’s horribly sad and no doubt will be a great loss to many people. Hopefully a lot of people will kick themselves and get into gear. If a animal can kill you in the wild, it can do it just as easy in captivity. It may not be as likely but the risk is still there.

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8 foot could definitely do some damage especially If that person isnt particularly strong. I’ve been wrapped up with a 7 foot snake and while I was able to get it unwrapped it was definitely a struggle. In the case of this tragic event I cant say I’m surprised. We all just need to be more educated about our animals and more cautious. You can never know when shit is going to hit the fan.

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I’ve been wrapped up with 7 to 9 foot snakes before and it was still a struggle and I’m a fairly large guy (6’3) so I wouldnt say height isnt the only thing that depends on the person that is handling the animal. Like others have mentioned if this was a burn or retic it could definitely have the potential of hurting if not killing someone.

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While I have sympathy that she died, I can’t say I feel totally bad for it. She probably was one of the ones that claimed her snakes were the sweetest snakes ever. That’s where some owners make their mistakes. Ok, sure some snakes might just be the sweetest snakes ever, and you can do what you want to them. And they don’t believe it when you tell them a snake can do a 180 one day, and instantly turn in an instant. Even I have snakes I feel that way about. But just never enough I let them crawl around my head and neck or be anywhere near my face. So, while I do sympathize that she died, I can’t say I feel bad for what happened cuz no matter how Billy Badass a guy thinks he might be, and especially a girl, if your by yourself, and your snake decides it wants to wrap and squeeze, your not getting it off alone. And for those that think your snake would never do that… just keep thinking that. People may read about you one day too.

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You’re making assumptions about someone who can no longer defend themselves and a lot of the details of this story still haven’t came out, if they ever do at all. While I see no problem with people hearing about how powerful these animals can be. There’s no reason to make assumptions that could easily be false.

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The story, in itself, changes from news site to news site.

“Police found the snake wrapped around her neck”
“The person, who wants to remain unidentified, found the body was able to remove the snake from her neck”

I believe when dealing with larger snakes (I’ll say larger in the sense that I’m 5’5" and if a snake is 5’6" it’s considered ‘larger’ than me) that if you are dealing with one larger than yourself that you need to have a second person with you when handling it. I would even say that for a 5 foot snake I would want someone else in the room with me - just in case an incident happened.

However, I believe this lady wasn’t killed by her snake and was in fact strangled by an actual human and the snake was used as a way to cover up, but that’s my two cents. Having Aspergers makes me unable to connect to this story, or really any ‘emotional’ story like this, so please whoever might read what I wrote in a negative way/light know that I don’t mean anything negative, nor did I type with emotions.

I hope her family is able to move past this tragedy and remember her for the animal lover she was.

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@akirby91 Ok hold up. Let’s not start crazy rumors from across the USA without knowledge. That’s the last thing anyone needs to do. I live here in Indiana, have a connection through a friend who explained some of it to me because I had many of the same questions. 8 ft retic would not see an adult human as prey, was the deceased impaired at the time, how did it wrap her and why etc. not sure all of that is 100% answered but I know the basics. It is very sad. Want to be respectful of the dead but yes it shouldn’t have happened many safety protocols were ignored.

It wasn’t her snake, was owned by local sheriff who owned the house itself where many snakes were kept. She owned balls and boas but no retics. The 8 ft male retic which killed her was apparently a very defensive snake, the retics owner here were not handled much and apparently explicit instructions were given that she should not handle any of them herself but unfortunately those were not followed. It’s tragic and unfortunate for sure. There are some other personal details that I think should stay with her family and such as to her frame of mind and maybe why certain choices were made but I don’t think anything else is relevant to us here. RIP.
Let’s not be foolish about this and say regrettable things.

Large snakes are exotic animals, they are potentially dangerous and safety measures should be taken and followed whenever handling them. Consequences can be devastating if they are not. That’s all I got.

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I agree that’s the silver lining it’s tragic but there are probably many people out there who need to be more careful with handling these animals and however sad it is hopefully it can help someone else not make the same mistake.

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For sure. It doesn’t take much pressure on someone’s neck to cut off blood to the brain and you can go unconscious in only a few seconds. Even less than half grown if a retic got the right squeeze on your neck you could go out very very quickly. They’re very powerful.

Those of us with BPs only might think 8 ft is only 2 longer than a large female BP but a retic is a whole different ballgame. Very sad.

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The one thing that sounds like everyone is assuming is that she pulled the snake out own her own. You never know maybe the snake was lose and she was trying to put it back up or never had the chance to grab it.

With the big snakes I make sure to look before entering the room. I also read the snake before messing with it. To me 8ft doesn’t sound that big but it depends on the person handling it.

The problem is people judge the snake and the person when something happens, with out knowing the whole story. This puts every reptial owner in jeopardy.

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@roysample001 it was not loose. She took it out against the owners instructions.
But I agree with your sentiment if I didn’t know the story details I wouldn’t be assuming that…and we definitely all tend to jump to conclusions. It’s a fair point

Sounds like a cover up to me…a snake would wrap the body and I’m not saying it DEFINITELY did but an 8 foot snake most likely had a body way bigger than her neck…kinda hard to imagine a snake that size goimg for tha neck…sherriffs house also??? Hmmmm

Well the thing is without jumping to conclusions is 8 ft really isn’t that big for a retic. And while it may be hard to imagine the snake going for her neck if it was already around her neck then it had the upper hand if it decided to constrict for whatever reason. This is why when handling snakes over 6 ft really there should be another person present .

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No doubt and I know the size of an 8 foot retic and I am also aware that constritors go for the lung area and not the neck unless this was a special retic that had knowledge of human anatomy…even in the wild when they take a bigger prey item it attacks the body 99% of the time

Then you should also know that humans are not their natural prey item and obviously the snake could not eat her nor had any intention to in the first place. Just saying that while very tragic this was an accident. No need for any murder cover-up conspiracy theories.

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I mean sure sounds like a cover up if you want to just willfully ignore the entire story lol. Cool.