Deputies from a Wisconsin sheriff’s department went above and beyond the call of duty this week when they received a call to help wrangle a large exotic snake that crawled onto the roof of a private residence in Chetek. A Facebook post describing the rescue declared that the initial report of the serpent’s size was a bit of an “undersell.”
“It was just over 14 feet, and it was really heavy,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told the Star Tribune. Not a fan of snakes, Fitzgerald delegated authority to Capt. Jason Hagen while he observed the hour-long operation from across the street. Hagen climbed onto the roof and with the help of a long pole used to hang Christmas lights was able to retrieve the snake—after a slight delay when the massive reptile briefly got stuck in the gutter.
Though some news reports identified the snake as an anaconda, a staff member at a pest control business in nearby St. Paul, Minnesota, told the Star Tribune it was a female red-tailed boa constrictor. Red-tailed boas are native throughout much of South America. They are also popular in the pet trade. Female red-tailed boas typically grow 7 to 10 feet long in the wild, but they have been known to reach 12 to 14 feet in captivity. The largest documented specimen is in the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Germany and measures 14.6 feet without a head.
The reptile belonged to the owner of the house where it was captured. The owner was away when the pet made a break for freedom. Capt. Hagen, a former snake owner himself, said the constrictor was safely returned to its cage. Meanwhile, Wisconsinites, unaccustomed to encountering tropical snakes in their midst, seemed relieved. “I live where the air hurts my face specifically to avoid critters like this,” wrote one commenter on Facebook.