The Creature from the Batiquitos Lagoon

Red-tail boa found in Carlsbad

By Eric S. Page
|  Tuesday, Dec 1, 2009  |  Updated 7:14 PM PDT
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AP

A snake similar to this one was found in Carlsbad over the weekend.

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A wildlife volunteer made a startling discovery over the weekend in Carlsbad.

Troy Keenan, a volunteer at the Batiquitos Lagoon Nature Center, caught a 5-foot red-tail boa on Sunday near Aviara Cove.

"I kind of tip-toed into the pickle weed and saw it stretched out," Keenan told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Red-tail boas are native to South America and are frequently kept as pets in the United States. It's not known if this snake escaped or was abandoned by its owner.

It's also not known how old the snake found in Carlsbad is, but, typically, the slitherers can reach lengths of up to 8 feet. This reptile, however, was in bad shape when it was found.

It was "not in the best of health -- it's a couple pounds underweight," said Lt. Dan DeSousa of the San Diego County Department of Animal Services.

The snake was originally reported to be a Burmese python, but DeSousa said an animal-services employee who raises snake determined it was, in fact, a red-tail boa, a judgment confirmed by the folks at the the San Diego Herpetological Society.

Not surprisingly, DeSousa is not pleased the snake was found in the wild.

"One of the things we want to get across to people is: Just like it is illegal to abandon your dog or cat, you cannot abandon your snake, and we encourage people that if they cannot keep it, they can bring to the shelter or to a rescue group," DeSousa said.

The snake was eventually brought to a shelter on Gaines Street in Linda Vista where, by law, officials will keep it for four days from the date they got the snake in the hope its owner will claim it. If nobody does, it will be placed up for adoption. The SDHS has expressed an interest in taking the snake, but DeSousa says snakes, like all other pets cared for by animal services, are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Now all we can do is hope the snake was the only red-tail boa at the lagoon.

"People just don't understand the consequences of their actions if they let something go," DeSousa said.
 

Eric S. Page reports about all things San Diego, but he draws the line at cat stories. You can follow his updates at twitter.com/espage or send him a story idea.

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