Georgia homeowner kills python amid invasive species fears


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (AP) — A homeowner east of Atlanta killed a four-foot-long (1.2-meter) ball python, raising concerns that people are releasing the snakes in Georgia. Giant pythons have established themselves in the wild in Florida, becoming an invasive species that poses a threat to wildlife there.

The Social Circle man turned in the snake to the University of Georgia Extension office in Walton County, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources confirmed it wasn’t a native species. Walton County Animal Control confirmed the python didn’t have an electronically-readable chip, and there were no reports of a missing python.

“It was an odd looking snake when we got it,” extension coordinator Joe Burnsed told the Athens Banner-Herald. “It was very large in girth,” Burnsed said, adding he knew “it’s not one of our usual snakes.”

Burnsed said the snake was identified as a ball python, a snake that is commonly sold as a pet and is native to Africa.

Kaitlin Goode, manager of the Urban Wildlife Program for the Department of Natural Resources, said such snakes typically escape or are intentionally released into the wild.

It’s unclear if the python could survive winter in northern Georgia, but officials fear the snakes will become established in the state. WALB-TV reported in 2011 that a giant python was caught in the wild, west of Albany.

“If you have an exotic pet you can no longer take care of or find an exotic animal, contact your local animal shelter or rescue group to have the pet rehomed,” the Department of Natural Resources said in a statement Friday. “Please do not release exotic animals.”