Riverside rowhome accidentally knocked down

Python on the lam is all wrapped up in Baltimore's Water Wheel

Baltimore's Water Wheel got an unexpected visitor: a five-foot ball python.

Here, Fido! Here, Rover!

Adam Lindquist wasn't sure what to make of the handsome, five-foot brown and black snake that Nate Appleby-Kellett found curled Wednesday around the Water Wheel in the Inner Harbor.

"It was a good-sized snake," Lindquist said. "Nate took one look at it and backed away."

Lindquist manages the Waterfront Partnership's Healthy Harbor Initiative, and Appleby-Kellett operates the solar-powered Water Wheel that picks up trash before it can enter either the Jones Falls or the Chesapeake Bay.

The men were monitoring the web camera on the Falls at about midnight Wednesday shortly after a big storm swept through Baltimore.

"We saw something that looked a lot like a snake, but the night vision on the web cam isn't very good," Lindquist said. "We thought it was maybe a black rat snake, or some other kind of snake that was native to Maryland, and that it would be gone by the morning."

Instead, when Appleby-Kellett went out to check the Water Wheel in the morning, he found the critter wrapped around the control box -- possibly because snakes are cold-blooded and the control box stores solar power.

A picture of the snake was tweeted from the Water Wheel's account, @MrTrashWheel.

Lindquist placed a quick call to the Aquarium, and general curator Jack Cover came out to investigate. Cover identified their visitor as a ball python, a docile snake that originated in Africa.

"It has to have been somebody’s pet that either escaped or was set free or was abandoned by its owners," Lindquist said.

It took Cover just minutes to uncoil the snake, which, as a non-native, he declared to be eligible for adoption. Lindquist said that Appleby-Kellett plans to present the creature tonight to his niece, who has long envied her snake-owning brothers.

"We get some strange things coming down the Jones Falls for sure," he said. "Once we got a keg of beer. Another time we got a carton of strawberry ice-cream that was still frozen. But, this is the first time we've gotten anything with scales."

mary.mcauley@baltsun.com

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