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Family of tourists help ICNF agents catch four metre python in Loulé

python tourist familyAn albino python snake over 4 meters in length was this Thursday, March 5th, captured in the late afternoon at Fonte da Benémola, in Loulé, by two ICNF nature watchmen following reports of the exotic reptile at around 16:00, by a family of distressed tourists who were taking hiking at the protected site under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Loulé.

The tourists filmed the animal with a mobile phone and contacted RIAS – the Wild Animals Research and Recovery Centre, in Quinta de Marim (Olhão), where the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) is also located. But, as RIAS does not deal with species that are not indigenous, the GNR SEPNA division was contacted. However, taking into account that an ICNF patrol was in the vicinity of Fonte da Benémola, it ended up being the nature watchmen who were dispatched take care of the capture of the large reptile, which was found at sunset, curled up to keep warm.

The python was then taken to the ICNF Ria Formosa Natural Park headquarters, at Quinta de Marim, in Olhão, until a decision was made as to what was to be done. As of today Lagos Zoo have welcomed the python.

Joaquim Castelão Rodrigues, regional director of the ICNF, criticised the "stupidity of people who abandon an animal like a python snake of these dimensions". The official explained that those who own exotic animals and want to part ways with them should instead contact entities such as the ICNF or the GNR’s SEPNA unit.

Despite saying that it is the first time that a snake of an exotic species, of such a large size, has been caught in the Algarve, Mr. Castelão Rodrigues added that, at the headquarters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park he regularly deals with many exotic turtles “that people buy because they find it exciting, but then, when they get bored, they drop it off anywhere”.

Albino pythons can usually be found in the southern part of the Asian continent. The snake lives in humid forests and rocky areas near water, and can be submerged for up to 20 minutes. It is a robust and hardy species, although quite rare in nature as it is an easy target for predators, due to its white and yellow colouring being very difficult to go unnoticed. It can reach 8 meters in length and weigh 80 kilos. It is not poisonous, and is a constrictor snake. It usually feeds on rats, rabbits, birds and small mammals.

Wild populations are also vulnerable due to their exploitation in the illegal pet trade, as will be the case with this snake, which was later abandoned by its owner.

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