Nephi police warned residents Wednesday to keep a close watch over their kids after a large boa constrictor escaped from its owners’ house in the small central Utah town. It was found nearly five hours later.
The snake, which is an adult at 7.5 feet long, was reported missing at 3 p.m. The pet’s owner came home to an empty cage, Lt. Jace Peterson said, after a family member unknowingly left the pen open.
The police department issued a “small child alert” at 6 p.m. and, along with animal control agents, searched the surrounding area. Officers found the snake about 8 p.m.
“This is rather unusual for us,” Peterson said. “We have not experienced this before.”
The snake is known to kill its prey by squeezing it to death. The reptile eats small mice and rabbits up to 2 pounds. Boas are typically not a threat to people but, though uncommon, have strangled babies before.
Seventeen people in the United States have died from a constrictor snake attack since 1978, according to a 2012 fact sheet from the Humane Society. Seven of those were children.