IT’s not unusual to see missing dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and even ferrets being sought by worried owners – but this one’s a herpetological whodunit.
A Tamworth WIRES volunteer is trying to find the owner of a python found in the city, which he believes might be an escaped pet because it’s a little out of its usual habitat.
The Murray-Darling python was removed from an I-beam at the city pool last week, but options are limited for identifying its owner, Jacob McGoldrick said.
“It’s a tough one, because I don’t know if it’s actually a wild one or a pet,” he said.
“At the moment I’m just trying to track down to see if anyone’s missing a snake.”
NSW law states people may own native reptiles as long as they are licensed with the Office of Environment and Heritage (National Parks and Wildlife Service), the reptile has been bred in captivity, and it is from a licensed breeder or dealer.
Owners must also keep an electronic record book, which details the animals they own; how they acquired or disposed of them; and breeding, deaths or escapes.
According to the Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Reptiles, a reptile should also be microchipped by a vet, to help local councils identify them and contact the owner.
In practice, though, Mr McGoldrick said that was tricky.
“They shed their skins so much, it’s a bit hard to microchip them,” he said.
“I think there probably needs to be something done about that, in terms of tracking and ownership.
“[If I can’t find the owner] I’ll contact the NPWS and they’ll try and find new home for it, or I might take it on.”
The snake was just one of several that have already been reported – some in unexpected places – this warm season, including a Calala footpath, Tamworth Regional Playground, in pools at homes in Oxley Vale and Hillvue, and the Oxley High School grounds.
A brown snake was even seen in Gunnedah’s main street the day before the Tamworth pool rescue.
Fire and Rescue NSW Tamworth Fire Station officer Matt Goldman said staff had been called to at least 10 snake sightings in recent weeks.
The firies keep unofficial tabs on these call-outs – and late last week it was snakes: 4, firies: 2.
“We’ve caught four, lost two: if we can’t catch the snake and it gets away, the snake gets a point,” he said.
The firefighter who caught the python, Aaron Hall, said then there had also been a few “no contests”.
“They’re the ones that have been long gone by the time we get there.”
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