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Burmese python found in Waukegan euthanized

Curator Wildlife Discovery Center ElawFarm Lake Forest Rob Carmichael handles Burmese pythwith Waukegan Animal Control Officer Nicole GarzWaukegan. The 15

Curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center, Elawa Farm in Lake Forest Rob Carmichael handles a Burmese python with Waukegan Animal Control Officer Nicole Garza of Waukegan. The 15 foot snake was found at Sea Horse Drive and Clayton Street in Waukegan on Monday morning. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 19, 2012 1:35AM

WAUKEGAN — Our progressively cooler September weather did no favors for the Burmese python discovered near Waukegan Municipal Beach on Monday.

But curator Rob Carmichael with the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest said the female snake was also suffering from wounds that weakened her to the point where she had to be euthanized Tuesday afternoon.

“When I looked at it, I could tell it was in real bad shape,” said Carmichael, recalling the moment when the snake was delivered to his facility by officers from Waukegan Animal Control, who corralled the albino python after it was discovered in bushes near Sea Horse Drive and Clayton Street.

“When you looked at its backbone, you could see it hadn’t eaten in a while, which isn’t too unusual. But it also had clear respiratory problems, and along its entire (length) there were open wounds,” Carmichael said. “Once snakes get septic like that, it’s almost impossible to get them back to good health.”

Carmichael added that it’s hard to say if the wounds were caused while the snake was in captivity or were inflicted by an encounter with a wild animal. He also said he can’t be sure how long it was out in the elements, guessing that it was “at least a few days.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “the bottom line is the snake had a real rough go of it.”

Waukegan Police Lt. Edward Fitzgerald said Monday that it is likely the snake was released near the lake by an owner looking to get rid of it, since the department had not fielded any reports of a python that had gone missing.

The practice of dumping Burmese pythons in the wild has become a problem in tropical areas like the Florida Everglades, where 1,825 of the constrictors were found between 2000 and 2011, and tens of thousands are estimated to have established a habitat.

While acknowledging that his organization rescues its share of orphaned reptiles, Carmichael said it has been his experience that “most people in the reptile-owning community are very responsible. You can get a few bad apples that make everyone else look bad.”

Whoever owned the snake saw it grow to an impressive length — Carmichael, who estimated that the python was around 5 to 10 years old, said it was measured to be just shy of 14 feet. In August, officials in Everglades National Park captured a 17-foot, 7-inch Burmese python, a record length for the state of Florida.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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