A massive snake was found in the backyard of a Manheim Township residence Friday morning.
And not just any snake: an 8-foot python with a large lump in its belly.
Residents had to find a way to get the female python into a trash can after calling Manheim Township police, to no avail.
They then drove it to That Fish Place - That Pet Place on Centerville Road.
Employees of That Fish Place - That Pet Place called the Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary who picked her up later that afternoon.
"I think it's brave [the residents] took that on," said Jesse Rothacker, founder of the Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary. "She may not have survived last night because of the temperatures."
Friday night into Saturday morning, the temperatures were in the 40s.
When snakes are exposed to cold temperatures, they become drowsy and move less than usual, Rothacker said.
Almost immediately after driving her to the sanctuary, they took to Facebook to find the owner.
"Right now, she's in a nice, warm environment," Rothacker said. "Low stress, nice heat ... we'll see if she's able to keep that meal down."
An x-ray on Sunday revealed that "all the evidence points to a possum," the sanctuary posted on Facebook.
"Which is logical, because both pythons and possums are nocturnally active, and the size matches up," the post said.
In the sanctuary's search for the owner, Rothacker said that at least one neighbor had contacted the sanctuary saying that the owner probably will not come forward to claim the python.
This was the third time the python had escaped, the neighbor told Rothacker.
If the owner does not come forward to claim the snake, the next step would be to find her a forever home.
"We don't recommend large snakes like this to the average person," Rothacker said.
People who are interested in adopting a reptile from the sanctuary can look up the available pets for adoption.
Animal, human safety
Though Rothacker commended those who brought the snake to That Fish Place - That Pet Place, he doesn't recommend taking on animal captures without help from a professional.
"If anyone finds an animal they're not comfortable with, whether it's a pitbull, horse or snake ... any time you're not sure who to call, just call 911 and figure it out," he said.
Some police boroughs handle animal captures and incidents differently.
According to Sergeant Michael Piacentino, Manheim Township police do not typically respond to animal calls unless the animals pose a danger to the public.
If the Manheim Township police department does respond to an animal call, they will likely call the Pennsylvania Game Commission or a private animal capture company, Piacentino said.
"Simply having an unwanted animal in a citizen's yard does not warrant a response," Piacentino said in an email to LNP + LancasterOnline.
However, the township police will respond to "humanely put down an injured animal that is not on the protected wildlife list."