U.S. Child Dies After Being Strangled by Pet Python in Florida
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
A 2-year-old Florida girl died after being strangled by a 12-foot pet python, police said.
The child was strangled by the snake overnight after it escaped from its aquarium at a home in Oxford, about 50 miles northwest of Orlando in central Florida, according to Sumter County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Binegar.
Paramedics said the little girl was dead when they arrived.
Deputies told MyFOXTampaBay.com that the child's name is Shaiunna and her mother's live-in boyfriend may face charges for not having a permit for the snake, a Burmese python.
Jaren Ashley Hare, 23, shared the home with Shaiunna and Hare's boyfriend Charles Jason Darnell, 32, deputies said.
Darnell told investigators that he put the snake in a bag inside its aquarium Tuesday night. But when he woke up the morning, the snake was gone. He found it wrapped around the girl in her crib.
Darnell stabbed the snake repeatedly to free the little girl, but the toddler had been bitten on the head, MyFOXTampaBay.com reported.var adsonar_placementId="1425767",adsonar_pid="144757",adsonar_ps="-1",adsonar_zw=224;adsonar_zh=93,adsonar_jv="ads.adsonar.com"; qas_writeAd();
Investigators are now waiting for search warrant to look through the house. The snake was last seen underneath a dresser, but it's not clear if it was still alive, according to the station.
Deputies say Darnell did not have the $100 permit required to own a python in Florida, which is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Sheriff's officials told the Orlando Sentinel that the snake broke out of its glass aquarium overnight, went to the girl's bedroom and attacked her.
The newspaper said the snake slithered away and was missing.
The snake was a family pet, not one of a fast-growing population of nonnative pythons that has been spreading in the wild in southern Florida. Burmese pythons can grow more than 15 feet long and weigh more than 150 pounds.
Pythons can kill by wrapping themselves around humans.
Jorge Pino, a spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said that pythons are not native to Florida and can easily grow to 10 or 12 feet.
Some owners have freed pythons into the wild and a population of them has taken hold in the Everglades. One killed an alligator and then exploded when it tried to eat it.
Scientists also speculate a bevy of Burmese pythons escaped in 1992 from pet shops battered by Hurricane Andrew and have been reproducing since.
"It's becoming more and more of a problem, perhaps no fault of the animal, more a fault of the human," Pino said. "People purchase these animals when they're small. When they grow, they either can't control them or release them."