A Parkville man was forced to kill his pet 15-foot Indian python early today after the snake clamped its jaws around the man's arm and refused to let go.
Baltimore County police said Gary Vail, 29, of 3019 Texas Ave., was bitten on both sides of his right forearm and was treated at the scene by the crew of a Fire Department ambulance.
Like all pythons, the snake was non-venomous. However, a python's mouth is filled with numerous teeth and its grip is strong.
Known to reach lengths of more than 20 feet, pythons kill their prey by wrapping themselves around them and forcing the air out of their lungs. The prey is crushed and easily swallowed.
It was not immediately known what Mr. Vail fed his pet snake, however, police believe its main diet was mice.
Mr. Vail told police he was handling the snake, named Medussa, inside his house around 1 a.m. today when it bit him.
Police said the female snake was in heat and may have been upset with being handled.
Instinctively, the snake began to wrap itself around the man's forearm and press harder.
Police said Mr. Vail, with the 7-year-old, 80-pound snake still biting down on his right forearm and coiling around the arm, grabbed a knife from a room in the house and walked out onto his front porch,where he had room to maneuver.
There, Mr. Vail continued to struggle with the snake for several more minutes trying to get it to release his arm before he reluctantly killed it.
"He had no choice and he hated to have to kill the snake," said a Parkville District police officer. The snake's carcass was removed by a county animal control officer.
Police said Mr. Vail had kept the snake as a pet since shortly after it was born.