'Don't Panic': Snakehunt Continues After Three-Foot Python Escapes Inside High School

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A ball python in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is having an excellent beginning of the semester after escaping from its science lab confines right before school started. Kai, the three-foot-long snake, is on the loose in Fond du Lac High School.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that a science teacher brought the snake to the school, but it broke free over the Labor Day weekend.

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“It’s one of those things you don’t want to have to worry about, especially at the start of the school year,” Fond du Lac High School Principal Matt Steinbarth told the newspaper.

On Tuesday, the school sent out mass emails and voicemails to the families of its 2,000 students warning them about the liberated snake and clarifying that it is non-venomous and won’t harm anyone.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Tuesday that officials believe Kai could still be in the classroom since the doors were closed, or it could have escaped through the eyewash station drain. But on Wednesday Steinbarth told local news station WBAY the school is investigating another possible escape route.

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“We did see that there’s slither marks that are in that, that ventilation system that goes out to the roof,” Steinbarth told WBAY, adding that the school plans to take apart the ventilation system to see if Kai is hiding inside.

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WBAY reports that the school set traps that won’t harm Kai.

Firefighters used heat sensors to search for warm areas where Kai might be nesting.

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“They usually go somewhere warm or somewhere small, so they don’t like wide-open spaces, and they like heat,” local snake enthusiast Steven Keller told WBAY.

Keller, who runs a local snake entertainment operation called Sten Keller’s Traveling Snake Snow told WBAY that if students or school employees find Kai, the should remain calm. “Don’t panic. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. When you find him, it will probably be curled up somewhere warm,” Keller said. “Don’t be surprised if he shows up in a desk drawer or something.”

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The school consulted with herpetologists about the matter. “They all say the same thing—if it doesn’t want to be found, it won’t be found until it needs something,” Steinbarth told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Kai had recently been fed, so it could be months before he comes out looking for food.

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Jennings Brown

Senior editor and reporter at Gizmodo