Nancy Colquette said that as a resident of Horseshoe Lake and someone who is familiar with the outdoors, she's accustomed to crossing paths with snakes.
But a recent encounter with a monster-sized serpent caught her by surprise. She had just returned to a friend's house on U.S. 165 in downtown Mer Rouge.
“We had just come home from the beauty shop,” she said. “I had just turned the [door] latch when something told me to look down, and I did.”
What she saw an enormous, black-and-yellow-spotted snake coiled on the bricks near the home's entrance. She attempted to dislodge the unwanted visitor with a patio chair, but the snake seemed determined to stay there.
“He was flicking out his tongue and all that, and he had his tail sticking up like a rattlesnake,” she said. “I started looking for anything I could find to hit him with.”
Colquette used a tree limb to do battle with the snake and then, believing it was dead, posed for photos with the carcass. Some time later, however, the snake apparently recovered and slithered away from the residence.
She said she's concerned the snake – which she estimated to be seven feet long – might be an escaped pet python or other large, exotic species that could pose a danger to domesticated animals and pets in the area.
Large snakes, although frightening, are usually no cause for alarm, according to Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries Department biologist John Hanks.
Page 2 of 2 - “We get snake calls daily because it's warm and there's so much water [in northeastern Louisiana],” said Hanks. “Large snakes might eat mice and rats, but we have not had any reports of pets being eaten by them.”
Without seeing the animal in person, Hanks said it's difficult to determine whether or not it's an exotic species that escaped from someone's home. That did happen about 10 years ago in Bastrop, when the LDWF was able to reunite an escaped re-tailed boa constrictor with its owner.
Based on the coloring of the Mer Rouge intruder, he said, “It's probably more likely that it's a native snake.” Some harmless species of native snakes, such as the coachwhip and chicken snake, can reach lengths of seven feet or more and become more visible when the weather turns cool.
"I believe it was a speckled king snake, based on the description," said Hanks. "It's not really anything to be alarmed about. Most Louisiana snakes are nonpoisonous, and they're actually beneficial for rodent control.”
Pythons and other exotic species have not been able to thrive in Louisiana as they do in southern Florida, where the climate is more tropical. Hanks said even if a python was loose in Morehouse Parish, it probably would not survive the winter.