TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A nonnative snake was spotted in South Tampa’s Belmar Gardens neighborhood last week, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials.
Dr. David Hernandez was walking his dogs on South Coolidge Avenue last Thursday when he noticed something strange out of the corner of his eye.
“I’m kind of surprised I noticed it because it was definitely camouflaged,” Hernandez said.
The South Tampa resident shared that as he got closer, he realized it was some sort of python.
“I wasn’t that scared, but just surprised, so I took a picture and a couple videos, and it was completely motionless,” he said. “The dogs didn’t really notice it, but it noticed us.”
Dr. Hernandez’ wife reported the snake sighting to the FWC the following day.
The agency told 8 On Your Side the snake is nonnative to the Tampa Bay area, so it’s likely the reptile was someone’s pet that got out or had been abandoned.
“I have a cat that’s missing, and we have a 20-pound dog, so I was worried about the animals more importantly,” said Courtney Cox.
The snake was seen outside of Cox’s front yard.
Reptile curator Dan Costell at ZooTampa explained ball pythons are nonvenomous and usually eat smaller mammals.
“They are a constrictor, so they grab their prey and squeeze it,” Costell said.
Costell shared that if the snake is still in the area when temperatures drop, it could be in trouble.
“They’re an African species – they like it a little warmer, so as winter sets in and it starts getting colder here, that animal will more than likely die if somebody doesn’t catch it,” he said.
People can report sightings of nonnative snakes to the FWC’s Invasive Species Reporting Hotline at 888-IVE-GOT1.