US woman rescued after boa constrictor wraps itself around her and bites her face

OHIO - A US woman had to be saved by firefighters after a boa constrictor she rescued a few days earlier wrapped itself around her body and bit her on the face.

The woman's predicament and the frantic call to firefighters that ensued were reported by the Chronicle-Telegram, an Ohio-based local newspaper, the Washington Post said on Saturday (July 29).

The woman, said to be a 45-year-old from Sheffield Lake in Ohio, has not been identified. She told the 911 dispatcher she had rescued the 5½-foot-long snake and brought it into her home, along with another snake, in recent days.

She said she also possessed nine other snakes, which were also believed to have been rescued. But she told the dispatcher in the 911 call those snakes were not loose and had not been attacking people.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

In the chilling call, the woman said, she was on the ground, with an unyielding boa constrictor wrapped around her body."Oh, please. I have a boa constrictor stuck to my - my face," she told the dispatcher.

The dispatcher seemed incredulous: "Ma'am, you have a what?""A boa constrictor," the woman confirmed.

"You have a boa constrictor . . . You're outside with a boa constrictor stuck to your face?"

The dispatcher notified paramedics, then tried to figure out more about the woman's predicament, which was clearly petrifying her."Please hurry," she screamed. "He has a hold of my nose."

According to the woman, the snake was not venomous and was not cutting off her breathing or circulation yet. But there was "blood everywhere", she said. "Oh, God, hurry, please. He's around my waist and he has my nose."

Near the end of the recording, the woman went silent for a while, but then sirens could be heard, growing louder, getting closer.

Sheffield Lake Fire Chief Tim Card told the Chronicle-Telegram what first responders found when they reached her."It was wrapped around her neck and biting her nose and wouldn't let go," Card said. "They had to cut its head off with a knife to get it to let go of her face."

The Associated Press reported that the woman was later taken to hospital for treatment.

The woman may have been in more danger than she or dispatchers thought at the time.

A 2015 study reported in The Washington Post showed that boa constrictors don't actually suffocate their prey. Their squeezing cuts off the unwitting victim's blood flow, stopping oxygen from getting to the brain. Victims quickly lose consciousness, then die.

Such dangerous interactions are not uncommon, according to Born Free, an organisation that advocates against owning exotic pets such as snakes.

The organisation catalogued more than 471 attacks by snakes in the US between 1995 and 2013. The numbers are probably higher, the organisation said, if unreported incidents are factored in.

"Clearly this is a national problem," Adam Roberts, then executive vice president of Born Free USA, said in a news release.

"We are seriously concerned about the epidemic of owning deadly snakes. Large snake ownership remains unregulated or poorly regulated across the country. . . . Snakes are wild animals who cannot be trained and at any time can display their normal wild behavior, which may include a poisonous bite or strangulation."

It is not known whether the woman faced charges or had her 10 remaining snakes removed. Boa constrictors are not listed as one of the dangerous wild animals prohibited under the Ohio Dangerous Wild Animal Act. Other snakes, including various species of anacondas and pythons, are on the list.

A reporter who later arrived at the scene, found remnants of what had transpired: an empty glass cage on the sidewalk and a small puddle of blood in the driveway.