Mystery over death of Malaysian python contending for title of world's longest snake

Snake expert rejects suggestion that the 7.5m python might have killed itself

A python caught in Malaysia and first thought to be the longest snake in captivity has lost both its run at the title and its life.

Two people working for the department that trapped the animal said it was remeasured at 7.5 metres, just 17 centimetres short of first place.

The reticulated python was found last week on a construction site where a flyover was being built in Paya Terubong, a district on the island of Penang.

The sudden death of the animal, estimated after its capture to be 8 metres, just days after it was found has led to concerns that it was mishandled.

Shazree Mustapha, a public relations officer at Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force, said the python “died on her own.”

“Maybe she committed suicide. Maybe she felt threatened so she killed herself,” he said, adding he was not certain this was the reason for its demise.

He said the snake’s body was handed over to the wildlife department. A sole egg that the serpent laid shortly before dying was also transferred, he added.

Video of the snake following its capture showed a man kicking it. Construction workers also posed for photos holding the python as a noose was held around its neck.

Raymond Hoser, who runs snake handling courses and gave reticulated pythons their scientific name, Broghammerus Reticulatus, said that snakes do not kill themselves and the python likely died due to internal injuries.

“Snakes don’t just drop dead. If they die there is a reason,” he told the Guardian.

“The most likely reason is injuries sustained when caught or after being caught. Snakes are relatively delicate animals,” he said. He added that when nooses are used on snakes, the animal will struggle which can lead to broke bones and internal bleeding.

“If they used a noose to catch the snake, that has caused the injury that has caused the death.”

The huge python was thought to have beat the record held by Medusa, a snake of the same species who was measured at 7.67 meters in the 2011.

Kept in Missouri, Medusa is part of The Edge of Hell Haunted House in Kansas City and retains the title of longest snake ever in captivity in the Guinness Book of World Records.

She is said to weigh 158.8 kg. Despite being shorter, the Malaysian python was weighed at 250 kg, spokesman Mustapha said.


Oliver Holmes in Bangkok

The GuardianTramp

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