Published Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 12:12 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 12:21 p.m.
A Las Vegas family taking care of an exotic snake avoided a tragedy Wednesday when an angry mother attacked an 18-foot reticulated python with a knife after the snake wrapped itself around her 3-year-old son.
Friends of the family had asked them to take care of the snake while they remodeled a business, where the python attracts plenty of attention, according to KTNV ABC-TV Channel 13, which first reported the incident.
Somehow the snake got loose in the family's home and it took six Metro Police officers, an animal control officer and an angry mother to pry the toddler away from the snake.
As the boy cried and began to turn blue, the mother attacked the snake with a knife. She was able to wrestle the child away from the snake's grip.
"It was gashes in that python beyond repair, so it was euthanized humanely," said Gordon Smith of the Lied Animal Shelter. One of the family's other snakes, a 14-foot-long python, was the next largest, he said. A snake the size of the one that attacked the boy can kill a full-grown human, he said.
Neither mother nor child were harmed. Police said no criminal charges will be filed since exotic snakes are allowed in private homes in Clark County, unless they are poisonous.
The snake's knife wounds were severe enough that the python had to be euthanized at the Lied Animal Shelter, where the family's five other -- and smaller -- snakes were also taken.
Reticulated pythons typically bite their prey first, then wrap themselves around and squeeze the life out of them.
One of the largest reticulated pythons in captivity was a 24-foot-long, 300-pound snake named Fluffy that once appeared on "The David Letterman Show."
The longest reticulated python, at 32 feet, 9.5 inches, was killed in Celebes, Indonesia, in 1912, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.