7-Year-Old Finds Wandering Ball Python in Jamaica Plain

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Despite not having any experience with snakes, a Jamaica Plain man and his 7-year-old daughter were able to locate a small ball python snake that they captured with another local.

On Sept. 4 Madison Sargeant and Jeffrey Kimball both tweeted photos of a ball python in Jamaica Plain. The two strangers seemingly came across the snake at the same time.

And if you're wondering -- they're native to West and Central Africa, but are commonly kept as pets in the U.S. It is a nonvenomous constrictor that commonly grows to four or five feet long, and can live for several decades.

Online chatter on the Jamaica Plain Facebook page generated interest in numerous people who took it as a personal challenge to capture the snake.

The following day, Erik Goulding, his daughter Eleanor, and Shannon Schwaller, caught the 1.5-foot long snake in the Parley Vale Preserve off of Parley Avenue.

A ball python was caught on Sept. 5, 2020 by Erik Goulding and his daughter Eleanor in Jamaica Plain. (Photo courtesy Erik Goulding)

"Neither Eleanor nor I have any experience with snakes, other than her fascination with the corn snake living in a terrarium at the Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, where she's gone to day camp before," said Goulding to Jamaica Plain News, who said his plan was pretty much to capture the snake, avoid getting bit, put it in a pillowcase and bring it to MSPCA-Angell.

"She's a budding wildlife enthusiast, whose biggest complaint about zoo camp this summer was that she didn't get to touch many of the animals," said Goulding.

After one failed search around 11 am, the father-daughter team went out again at 3 pm because Eleanor insisted on going out when the sun would be higher in the sky in case the snake was out sunning itself.

With pillowcase in hand the duo met Schwaller, who was also searching for the snake, and is a snake owner.

"My daughter was not willing to accept failure, though, and went looking into the gaps in the rock wall at the edge of the park, hoping to spot the snake hiding in a rodent burrow," said Goulding. "And she must have pretty sharp eyes, because she spotted a glimpse of yellow-and-brown scales through a tiny gap in the rocks!"

Goulding used a flashlight on his phone to confirm the snake was there, and the trio spent a few minutes figuring out how to get the snake out without hurting it. Goulding moved a rock out of the way while Schwaller picked up the snake, put it into a cardboard box lined with a pillowcase. Eleanor recorded the rescue (video above).

As Eleanor carried the box, the three of them walked to MSPCA-Angell. An MSPCA employee suggested they contact the on-site shelter to surrender the snake, but there was no answer, so Schwaller decided to adopt the snake and named her -- Eleanor.

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