Police corral exotic snake at Dover hospital campus

DOVER — Newborn babies are occasionally dropped off at hospitals for a safe haven.

But snakes?

Maintenance workers at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital located what’s believed to be red tail boa constrictor late Wednesday morning after first seeing its tail sticking out from under a pallet, officials said.

Police later said they believed the snake was an unwanted pet.

Pictured is a 4- to 5-foot long red tail boa constrictor found at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital late Wednesday morning. (Submitted/Dover Police Department)

Pictured is a 4- to 5-foot long red tail boa constrictor found at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital late Wednesday morning. (Submitted/Dover Police Department)

The discovery at approximately 11:45 a.m. came in the area of State Street and Scull Terrace, and sparked an hourlong multi-pronged approach to keeping the snake safe.

Dover Police Department officers arrived, picked up the snake, deposited it in a container and transported it to First State Animal Center-SPCA in Camden, spokesman Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

From there, the snake was expected to be turned over to state wildlife personnel, police said.

“It was our understanding that a DNREC officer would be en route to take custody of the animal at some point,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

Authorities said the age of the snake was unknown, but estimated it to be 4 to 5 feet long.

Dover Police had some fun after the incident that thankfully ended safely for everyone, posting a photo of the snake on its Facebook page, recapping details of its apprehension and asking for ideas on what to name it.

“There were lots of names being suggested, with many suggesting ‘Monty’ from Monty Python,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

Authorities have responded to snake concerns before, but this was an unusual case.

“Of this nature, yes,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

“We get the occasional call for a snake in a home or other type of issue, but this was a very rare sight.”

The snake wasn’t about to harm anyone, so police decided to care for it the best they could.

“There was no danger to the officers or public at the time and it presented no dangers as it was taken into custody,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

An atypical situation

While officers were somewhat concerned about the atypical situation, “they handled the situation well and kept themselves and the snake safe,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

On Facebook, Dover Police Department opined that somebody had let the snake roam free, which was the wrong thing to do.

“While you can imagine the humor in seeing a few officers scared to death while they handled the snake, it’s simply irresponsible and cruel to let it loose,” the post read.

“If you don’t want to accept the responsibility of pet ownership then don’t take it on, or find a safe home/rescue for the pet.

“Now, what should we name him?” the Facebook post concluded.

Seriously, though, letting a pet go is a bad idea.

“This snake was obviously a pet to somebody in Dover who no longer wished to take responsibility for it,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

“Letting the snake loose is nothing short of irresponsible and cruel to the animal. It could very well have caused a public safety issue as well. If you cannot handle the responsibility of pet ownership, especially of exotic animals, then do not take it on.

“Furthermore, if you find yourself in an unfortunate position where you cannot care for an animal, find a shelter or rescue for the animal. Do not release it into the wild.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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