Pet Burmese python escapes and kills FL toddler

July 1, 2009

Pet Burmese python escapes and kills toddler

Law enforcement officials remove a 12-foot long albino Burmese python

(Will Vragovic/AP)

Police remove the 12-foot Burmese python which killed Shaunia Hare in Florida

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A 12-foot pet Burmese python has broken out of its aquarium and strangled to death a two-year-old girl in her Florida bedroom.

Police said Shaunia Hare was already dead when paramedics arrived at her home in Oxford, 50 miles northwest of Orlando.

The albino snake had been owned by Charles Darnell, the boyfriend of Shaunia’s mother, who found it in the toddler's bedroom, wrapped around her. Mr Darnell, 32, stabbed the snake until he was able to pry her away, but was too late to save her.

Mr Darnell did not have a permit for the snake, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said tonight, although he has not yet been charged with any offence.

Authorities were pictured removing the snake tonight, while Mr Darnell could be seen standing outside his home hugging his girlfriend Jaren Hare. The snake was said to be wounded but still alive.

Burmese pythons can reach a length of 26 feet and weigh more than 200 pounds. Some owners have freed them into the wild and a population has taken hold in the Everglades. Scientists also believe that several 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,” said Jorge Pino, a state wildlife commission spokesman.

“People purchase these animals when they’re small. When they grow, they either can’t control them or release them.”

At least 12 people have been killed in the US by pet pythons since 1980.

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813.493.4564 fax 885.4457

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