Oak Bluffs police responded to Ocean Park early on Labor Day to deal with a boa constrictor, more than six feet long, found near the gazebo. A man strolling with a young child encountered the snake, and called 9-1-1.
When police arrived, they determined the animal was dead, and was probably dead for some time.
“I thought it was a hoax or was going to possibly be a much smaller snake when the call first came in through the Communications Center,” Oak Bluffs police officer Dustin Shaw said. “As police officers we have to be ready to deal with a wide variety of incidents, but a boa constrictor is a first for me. They never went over that in the police academy.”
Noted wild animal expert Gus Ben David identified the snake as a red tailed boa constrictor, a species native to Central and South America.
“It’s a common animal in the pet trade,” Mr. Ben David said. “You’ve got a classic case of somebody had it, got tired of it, they found out it’s a lot of work. Most likely it’s a released animal. The other possibility is it escaped. I tend to think it was released. I haven’t had anybody call saying ‘I’m missing my pet boa.’”
Mr. Ben David said a boa constrictor of that size does not pose a significant threat to humans. Mr. Ben David said boa constrictors can deliver a nasty bite, though it is not venomous.
According to the Los Angeles Zoo website, the red tailed boa constrictor most often grows to between 4.5 and 8 feet in length, and weighs 40 to 50 pounds, but can grow as large as 13 feet in length. They feed on small mammals, like mice, rats, and similar sized animals. Boa constrictors kill their prey by grasping the animal with their long rows of small, sharp, teeth, then curl around it, squeezing until the prey suffocates.