US police are investigating the tragic death of a woman found with a 2.4 metre python wrapped around her neck in a so-called “reptile home” in western Indiana.
Laura Hurst, 36, was found inside the Oxford residence, set up to house more than 140 reptiles, on Wednesday local time with the reticulated python wrapped loosely around her neck. She could not be revived by medics.
Indiana State Police Sergeant Kim Riley told the Lafayette Journal and Courier Ms Hurst appeared to have been strangled by the snake but was awaiting the outcome of an autopsy on Friday local time to determine a cause of death.
The woman, from Battle Ground, visited the home twice a week where she kept about 20 snakes, according to The Associated Press.
The home is reportedly owned by Benton County Sheriff Don Munson – who lives next door – and was renovated specifically to house a collection of snakes.
CNN reported the snake is a native of southeast Asia and is the longest snake in the world.
Indiana State Police: Woman found dead with 8-foot python around her neck https://t.co/C9cZIx7GT0
Police found 140 snakes at the location. Only 20 of those snakes reportedly belong to the woman and it's not clear if the python was one of them pic.twitter.com/imnefjKrSH
— Local 12/WKRC-TV (@Local12) October 31, 2019
Sergeant Riley said the snakes were caged or otherwise secured inside the building. He told CNN she was “apparently there checking on her snakes. For whatever reason, she apparently got the snake out and she was doing what people do with snakes”.
Sheriff Munson told the newspaper that he was the one who found Ms Hurst, describing her death a “tragic accident with loss of human life.”
“I’ve given all information to the state police,” he said, adding that he was “being fully cooperative with everybody.”
He also told the newspaper back in 2001 he bred snakes for sale.
According to the website of the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra, the reticulated python can grow up to 10 metres, is non-venomous and wraps itself around prey including deers and pigs, suffocating rather than crushing them.