In a residence purportedly housing 140 other snakes, an Indiana woman was found dead Wednesday evening with an 8-foot-long python hanging around her neck.
According to a report from the Journal & Courier, police are currently investigating the death of Laura Hurst, 36, in Oxford, Indiana, though they have a hunch. “She appears to have been strangled by the snake,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Kim Riley told the Journal & Courier, but that fact remains unconfirmed until results come back from an autopsy scheduled for Friday.
The reticulated python wrapped around Hurst’s neck was apparently one of 20 snakes she kept in the house and visited regularly. It purportedly belongs to Benton County Sheriff Don Munson (Oxford is part of Benton County), a next-door neighbor who was also the first to come across the body. He’d retrofitted the residence into a sort of makeshift snake sanctuary filled with 140 snakes per the J&C report, though exactly how many belong to him remains unclear. According to the report, Munson called Hurst’s death a “tragic accident with loss of human life.”
While captive pythons tend to be less aggressive than their wild counterparts, attacks are still far from uncommon. One study found that at least 16 people in the U.S. have been killed by them between 1978 and 2009. Their sheer size alone can prove challenging for many owners. Reticulated pythons can weigh up to 350 pounds and grow upwards of 20 feet long.
And I just wanted to share this fact because I found it deeply disturbing: Though they usually strangle their prey, there’s been a few rare cases of wild pythons swallowing grown men and women whole. Holy crap.
[H/T Journal & Courier]