It is a proverbial question: Why did the chicken cross the road? The answer, at least on Franklin Terrace in Vineyard Haven, may have been to escape a python.
About 7 pm last Tuesday, Tisbury Police responded to a call from a resident who said there was a “large snake outside his home, possibly a boa constrictor,” according to a police log entry.
Tisbury animal control officer Laurie Clements was called. Ms. Clements said her first reaction was to call Gus Ben David, a well-known Island naturalist and keeper of large reptiles, because she was really not equipped to handle a large snake — “I’m thinking the kind Tarzan used to have the big fights with,” she told The Times.
Then she thought it might just be a big milk snake, so she decided to go to the location before she called Gus. She found the snake. “And I thought, ‘Oh boy.’” She asked the communications center to call for Gus.
The snake was slithering through the woods. “So I put my gloves on and I snagged it,” she said. “It was about four feet long, and pretty big around. One of the police officers would not get out of the cruiser, and the other one went across the street — they weren’t into snakes.”
She held the snake against the hood of the cruiser to help it warm up in the cold air. Gus Ben David arrived, and immediately identified the snake as a ball python.
“And he said, ‘See the fangs?’ I almost died,” Ms. Clements said. “I hadn’t seen them, but there they were. But he was very placid.”
Shortly after Mr. Ben David arrived, the log notes the police officer advised the communications center, “The serpent situation is under control.”
Mr. Ben David took the snake. Gary Hathaway later called Mr. Ben David and told him the snake belonged to his brother Josh and he had been holding it for safekeeping.
According to Reptiles Magazine, the ball python (Python regius) “is quite simply the most popular pet python in the world. Ball pythons are generally a bit shy, but they make for ideal captives, because they are of a small size, are generally friendly, are easy to care for, and come in a remarkable array of colors and patterns.”