The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has called for the importation and ownership of large constrictor snakes to be more strictly regulated. At least 11 people have been killed by pet pythons in the United States since 1980, including men in Ohio and Indiana who were killed by their pet pythons in 2006.
Reptiles also carry Salmonella, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping reptiles out of homes with children under five and people with weakened immune systems, who are most susceptible. They also cite the fact that escaped snakes can establish breeding populations in the wild, such as the Burmese pythons in the Everglades, damaging local ecosystems. Virginia prohibits certain reptiles such as alligators as pets, but pythons are allowed unless the locality has a stricter rule, and the HSUS is calling on Virginia Beach and the state to prohibit future acquisitions and sales of large constrictor snakes and other dangerous wild animals.
"Tragedies like this can be avoided with common-sense regulations at the local, state and federal levels," said Beth Preiss, director of the exotic pets campaign for The HSUS. "To protect public health and safety, animal welfare and the environment, large constrictor snakes should not be pets."
The first reported death caused by a reticulated python in the United States was in 1980 when a 7-month-old girl was killed by her father’s 8-foot pet reticulated python after the snake had forced his way out of a covered aquarium. Before last week’s incident, the most recent death was in Ohio in 2006, when a man died in hospital after being strangled by his pet python.