Toddler dies, python found coiled around her
The snakes are not native to Florida, but many people keep them as pets
Shaunia Hare was already dead when paramedics arrived at about 10 a.m., Lt. Bobby Caruthers of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said.
Charles Jason Darnell, the snake’s owner and the boyfriend of Shaunia’s mother, said he discovered the snake missing from its aquarium and went to the girl’s room, where he found it on the girl and bite marks on her head, Caruthers said.
Darnell, 32, said he stabbed the snake until he was able to pry the child away, and then called 911.
Authorities remained outside the small, tan home, bordered by cow pastures Wednesday afternoon, awaiting a search warrant to remove the snake from the home. It was unclear if it was still alive.
Darnell did not have a permit for the snake, which would be a second-degree misdemeanor, said Joy Hill, a spokeswoman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He has not been charged, but Caruthers said investigators were looking into whether there was child neglect or if any other laws were broken.
NBC affiliate WESH reported that Darnell told deputies he left the snake in an aquarium in a bag when the family went to sleep.
The python was one of two snakes in the home — the other is a 6-foot-long boa constrictor. Both snakes are alive, Carruthers said.
Two other children also lived there, WESH reported.
The Humane Society of the United States said including Wednesday’s death, at least 12 people have been killed in the U.S. by pet pythons since 1980, including five children.
Pythons are not native to Florida, but some residents keep them as pets, especially Burmese pythons, which can grow to more than 15 feet and weigh more than 150 pounds.
When the snakes become too large, some owners release them into the Everglades and other wild areas, Florida officials say.
The fast-growing population of snakes has been invading southern Florida’s ecosystem since 1992, when scientists speculate a bevy of Burmese pythons was released into the wild after Hurricane Andrew shattered many pet shop terrariums.
This is just another example of the epidemic of the loss of personal responsibility and the loss of common sense that has swept the United States. These situations come from a lack of thinking things through, a loss of self-responsibility for our actions and a lack of concern for others… people and animals. Was this the snake’s fault?? Heck no! It was the owner’s fault – the parents’ fault.