Once again, a giant snake is always in the last place you look.

Spring is finally bringing some comfortable weather to Japan, and it’s been so nice recently that it’s really hard to fight the urge to load your giant ball python into the car and take a nice relaxing drive through the countryside.

But wait!

Before you do, it’s important to remember some important facts about ball pythons. First and foremost, these reptiles lack the sentimentality to fully appreciate a spring drive through quaint rural communities. Secondly but equally important, they’re really good at hiding.

▼ You just never know where they’ll pop up

One owner in the city of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture learned this the hard way recently. On 15 April the owner of a two-meter (6.6-foot) long, two-kilogram (4.4-pound) ball python was driving around with it after picking it up from a friend who was taking care of it. For some reason the owner then left it unattended in his car while it was parked in the lot of his apartment building.

When he returned, he was surprised to find the serpent had vanished. Two days had passed and the owner was still unable to locate the snake so he contacted police who conducted a search on 17 April but found nothing.

On 18 April a search party of about 10 people carried out a wider hunt for the snake, inspecting drainage ditches and poking around in tall grass with sticks to try and flush it out of hiding. Fortunately, ball pythons are not poisonous nor are they especially dangerous animals, and will only bite or constrict people when startled or feeling in extreme danger.

▼ News report on the snake-hunt

Still, they’re pretty freaky when two meters long and the residents understandably wanted it out of their community sooner than later. Children were told to stay alert for big snakes and escorted to school by guys with big sticks.

However, as luck would have it, on that same day the owner got into his car and noticed a strange bulge in the wiring cover under his passenger side glove box. After opening up a panel between the front passenger seat’s footwell and the center console/transmission tunnel, he found the snake curled up inside, keeping warm and safe in its new hiding place.

Although the incident ended without any further problems of injuries, readers of the news were reminded of the escaped python in Yokohama last year, and wondered if better measures need to be taken to keep them out of everyone else’s business.

“That seems like the first place I’d look…”
“So, technically this snake didn’t even escape.”
“Why not implant a chip in these things?”
“I’m glad they found it, I was getting worried.”
“I’m glad everyone and everything is OK. Those snakes may be cute for fans, but for everyone else they are just annoying.”
“If the government passes a bill to restrict ownership of these snakes, I think everyone would support it.”

One important difference is that last year’s snake was a reticulated python which is considerably more dangerous and requires a special permit to own. Ball pythons can be owned freely because of their generally docile nature.

On the other hand, one important similarity in both cases is that people tend to spend way too much time searching all over the city when the whole time the snakes were never far away and just followed their instincts to tuck away somewhere, hide, and keep warm.

This is apparently really important information to know, because it seems every spring a huge snake goes missing somewhere in Japan. So, let’s all try to stay on top of this when 2023 rolls around!

Source: NHK (1, 2), Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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