Going to the park is a great way to relax in the outdoors and take in the fresh air, flora, and fauna. This wasn’t the case for some visitors to Frick Park in Pittsburgh, PA, however.
While enjoying a clear April day, some park goers caught sight of a large snake, curled up in the branches of a tree. And when we say large, we mean LARGE!
Pittsburgh residents were understandably alarmed, especially because they weren’t able to identify the kind of snake at first. Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control was the first to sound the alarm, letting the public know that a trail in Frick Park was being investigated for a potentially dangerous snake.
“We were initially concerned it may have been a boa constrictor or a python,” said Wendell Hissrich, a public safety director, in an interview with WPXI-TV.
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While the sighting was unusual for the area, the snake did turn out to be a local species. “The experts have spoken!” a PSA from Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control began. “We thank the reptile specialists at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for identifying the Frick Park snake as a Black Rat Snake. While not commonly seen in the park, this harmless species of snake is native to the area and very beneficial to the environment. We thank the public for their interest and for helping us identify this park visitor.”
“I think the uniqueness is the size of the snake, and meandering up the tree makes it that much more of an effect of the length and size when you see it up against the sky,” explained Reptile Curator Henry Kacparzyk to WPXI-TV.
The Black Rat Snake, or Pantherophis obsoletus, is native to the area, though the species is often found in less populated areas. They are nonvenomous and are adept at climbing trees and swimming. Some can grow to more than 8 feet long, making them the longest officially measured snake in North America!
Though the Black Rat Snake is nonvenomous, it occasionally mimics rattlesnakes and shakes its tail to scare predators, but this is just a bluff. However the snake still poses a risk. “The worst they can do to a dog is deliver a bite,” continued Kacparzyk. “You’d wash it with soap and water and maybe put some triple antibiotic ointment on it and keep an eye on it. It’s not really that dangerous.”
Still, Pittsburgh officials are warning the public to follow common-sense guidelines: “If you come across a large snake you are not familiar with, stay [away] and immediately notify police.”
Though they still haven’t been able to find him, Pittsburgh Animal Care & Control has plans to search for and relocate the snake, both for his sake and for visitors to the area.
Fortunately, in spite of his looming size and striking appearance, this snake is no great threat to the people around him, and his moment of fame on social media hopefully helped educate the public about reptiles in their area!Whizzco