Two “incredibly lucky” ball pythons dumped in a North Carolina forest are getting a second chance at life thanks to a mindful mushroom hunter, a reptile rescue group says.
The snakes, dubbed Chanterelle and Morel, were rescued after someone abandoned them near the Duke Forest area in Durham this week, according to BeWild Reptile Rescue.
Forager Reid Stansell was hunting for mushrooms on Thursday, May 26, when his search turned up two small snakes locked in a Kritter Keeper terrarium not far from the road, the group said on Facebook. Rescuers believe the cage had been there for some time, citing “caked” substrate on its side.
“While we get lots of reptiles found outdoors or abandoned in tanks every year, this is by far the worst case we’ve seen, as they were NOT placed in a location where they could have easily been found,” the group wrote. “Obviously we shouldn’t have to say this but please don’t abandon your pets outdoors at all.”
Chanterelle had several small cuts on her body, rescuers said, while Morel was underweight and dehydrated with a wound on his head. Both likely would’ve died of starvation or dehydration if they weren’t found.
“We don’t have any way of telling how long they were there,” AJ Hallatt, a co-director at the rescue, told McClatchy News. “There were also native isopods (pill bugs/rollie pollies) in the substrate. So we do feel it had likely been a couple days at least.”
Ball pythons, named for their tendency to coil into a ball when threatened, are native to sub-Saharan Africa and aren’t equipped to handle North Carolina climates, the group said. The non-venomous snakes are usually kept as pets and can grow up to 5 feet long.
McClatchy News reached out to Stansell on Friday, May 27, and was awaiting a response.
Rescuers said the snakes will be up for adoption once they’ve recovered.
“We quarantine all animals for a minimum of 30 days, longer if they present with health issues,” Hallatt said. “The larger snake (Chanterelle) will likely be available after that period, but the smaller one (Morel) will need more time and care to get to a healthy weight.”
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