Hopefully you have an escape plan for yourself and your family in case of a fire in your house. But what about your pets? Unless they’re right next to you and can be snatched up as you take the safest and most direct route out, they should be left behind as you prioritize saving human life. But firefighters are tasked with saving both life and property and sometimes are able to rescue pets as they work their way through the house to put out the fire. That was the case in Keithville, Louisiana when firefighters saved a snake from a fire. But not just any snake: a massive 6-foot albino boa constrictor! We’ve got the whole story for you, including a video link where you can witness the dramatic rescue yourself and some tips for pet fire safety.
- In Louisiana, firefighters save a snake: a 6-foot albino boa constrictor from a house fire, with only minor burns to the snake.
- Albinism is a genetic mutation that results from recessive genes that must be carried by both parents.
- It is very rare in the wild but deliberately produced in breeding to create more exotic versions of popular boa constrictors.
- You can take some basic precautionary steps to make it more likely for your pets to survive a house fire. Tips are provided at the end of the article.
At 10:30 a.m. on December 16, 2022, firefighters from the Caddo Parish Fire District in Keithville, Louisiana responded to a call about a house fire. As they worked to put out the fire, they rescued several caged animals, before finding a caged 6-foot, 30-pound albino boa constrictor. Captain Freddy Martin and firefighter John Phelan smashed a window to rescue the reptile. Because the owner did not have the proper permits to keep the snake, it was taken to a sanctuary until it could heal from minor burns and be reclaimed by the owner after proper licensing. Unfortunately, a rabbit, seven dogs, and five cats perished in the fire. After the video below, read on to learn more about boa constrictors, and about how to keep pets safe from house fires.
Why Are Boa Constrictors Popular Pets?
Boa constrictors are non-venomous snakes native to Central and South America. In captivity, they grow up to about 13 feet long, with females growing larger than males. They’ve become popular pets because of their exotic, impressive size and appearance paired with a relatively calm and docile temperament. They also don’t have picky diets or large space requirements, and they are not as energetic or demanding of attention as mammalian pets can be. They also live a long time. With proper care, they can live 20-30 years. Some owners claim they can even be affectionate, though many reptilian experts would say they become more comfortable and relaxed with a familiar handler.
An albino snake is one that lacks melanin pigment in its skin due to a genetic mutation. This makes it look white and yellow instead of the normal browns, reds, and blacks of the species. Albinism is a recessive trait that requires two parents that both carry the necessary gene. Many different species, including human beings, can give birth to albino young. In the wild, albinism is exceedingly rare, but when it is considered a desirable trait, breeders can deliberately select for it when choosing breeding pairs. This is the case with boa constrictors, which are already popular pets, but can fetch higher prices if they have rare color patterns.
Pet Fire Safety Tips
Pets start over 1,000 house fires a year, and, whether or not they started the fire, many pets die in them. The American Red Cross has provided a useful guideline to preventing these tragedies. Here are some of their recommendations:
Stop Your Pet From Starting Fires
- Don’t leave curious pets unattended around candles, cooking appliances, or fireplaces.
- Cover stove knobs when you leave the house to prevent your pet from starting a fire.
- Use flameless candles with a light bulb instead of a flame.
- Keep pets enclosed in securely closed habitats, crates or behind baby gates.
Protecting Your Pet From a Fire
- Practice a family escape plan that includes taking your pets with you. Train pets to come when you call.
- Place crates, cages, or animal habitats near escape routes. Keep collars on dogs or cats and keep their leashes conveniently near.
- Put a static pet alert window cling on the front window listing the pets in your house to help rescuers.
Most importantly, do not delay your escape or search your house for a pet during a fire. A fire can become life-threatening in just two minutes and a home can become completely engulfed in flames in just five minutes. Your pet stands a better chance if you are safe outdoors, allowing the firefighters to save the snake (or other animal). Simply tell the firefighters which part of the house to search. And with any luck, your pet will be as fortunate as that lucky albino boa in Louisiana!
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