SILVERDALE, Australia: Residents of a Sydney suburb have been cautioned by the local government of New South Wales, following the discovery of a huge “freshly shed” snake skin on Monday.
The massive boa constrictor is believed to be at large in Silverdale, a small town to the west of Sydney, after its skin was spotted at a property.
Biosecurity officers are combing through the Cascades area of Silverdale for the reptile.
Officials estimate the snake to be at least 8.2 feet long with the potential of engulfing prey up to four times the size of its stomach.
“The snake is capable of suffocating and killing children under two and can injure grown adults by biting their arms or legs,” Local snake catcher Sean Cade said.
“This thing would take a full-sized kangaroo mate, no problem,” he said, adding, “The fear is that a young kid will be playing in the back yard, and this snake will mosey on up.”
“It’s definitely dangerous to animals, particularly dogs or cats,” he warned.
“What happens with these snakes is that they are fed rabbits and guinea pigs. So if people have rabbits and guinea pigs as pets in their backyards, the snake is going to be looking for that.”
Boa constrictors are one of the largest snake species in the world, which may weigh up to 15 kilogrammes and grow up to 10 feet in length.
The species originates from Central and South America and is considered invasive in Australia.
The Boa constrictor is classified as a Prohibited Dealing under the Biosecurity Act 2015. It is an offence to keep this species unless authorized under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986 or Animal Research Act 1985.
In a letter, the NSW local government said it is “in the process of trying to locate and capture the animal”.
Residents have been urged to report any sightings to the state’s forestry department and avoid making contact with the animal.
The statement also advised the locals to take a photograph of the serpent, if it is safe to do so.
Boa constrictors are not venomous, they can bite and strangle their prey, and pose “a serious threat to wildlife and can be dangerous to humans.”
The forestry department said that once found, the snake would be sent to a veterinarian.
“The snake will be examined to determine where it came from, how long it has been in the area, what it has been eating, whether it’s carrying any diseases of concern and whether it has produced offspring,”
Keeping a boa constrictor is illegal outside of zoos in New South Wales.