Woman missing 14 pet pythons, says they were let loose

A Burmese python moves through the grass during a demonstration by the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission for the news media to promote the upcoming Python Challenge, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Davie, Fla. The challenge is scheduled for January 2016 and offers the public an opportunity to safely and humanely capture invasive Burmese pythons from public lands in south Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
A Burmese python moves through the grass during a demonstration by the Florida Fish and Conservation Commission for the news media to promote the upcoming Python Challenge, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Davie, Fla. The challenge is scheduled for January 2016 and offers the public an opportunity to safely and humanely capture invasive Burmese pythons from public lands in south Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (AP) – In a real life version of the children’s reader “Snakes Alive!”, state wildlife officers are searching for 14 pythons in an east Georgia subdivision after a woman reported that someone let the pet snakes loose.

Jacqueline Heim told authorities the snakes were in secure cages. She suspects someone set them free deliberately this week.

Heim tells WRDW-TV the ball pythons are not harmful. Ball pythons, sometimes known as royal pythons, are so named because their key defense against predators is to roll up in a ball.

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A woman on Facebook posted to the Augusta Animals Lost and Found page, saying 14 of her ball pythons were released on Barclay Street by an “irresponsible party.” She mentions that her snakes are generally harmless, not venomous, and eat mostly small rodents. In less than 20 hours, her post was shared more than 900 times.

Priscilla Crisler of Augusta Animal Services says the snakes “typically are very docile.”

But neighbors like Shekelia Wilcher are on edge. Wilcher tells WJBF-TV that young children in the neighborhood wait for their school bus and “one might just crawl up on them.”

The neighborhood is in Hephzibah,  about 15 miles south of Augusta.

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