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LAGUNA BEACH : Wandering Python Hits Pool Again

Overcast skies may discourage some sunbathers, but not the eight-foot-long python that appears to have taken a fancy to a swimming pool at a local motel.

For the second time in as many months, the manager of the Tides Motel on Monday called for help after the snake slithered onto the grounds and into the pool.

“Every time he gets out, he heads for their pool,” Laguna Beach animal control officer Joy Lingenfelter said. “They’ve been very nice about it . . . but they don’t think it’s going to be a big business draw. That’s why they don’t like him there.”

Lingenfelter said the brown and green reptile with splotchy markings belongs to a resident who lives about a block from the motel. Although the pet generally resides in a covered tank, it has twice escaped by slinking out a window, down a tree and across an alley to the motel, she said.

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“It’s just an escape artist, that’s all,” Lingenfelter said. “When they smell that fresh air, a lot of times they want to get out.”

Louise Whitworth, who with her husband owns and manages the motel on North Coast Highway, said her husband was notified that the python was in the pool by a guest who walked past it Monday morning.

“They said, ‘Hey, there’s a snake in the pool,’ ” she said. “The snake loves my place.”

Whitworth said her husband took pictures of the reptile, which last visited about two months ago, and that no one was frightened by the incident.

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When Lingenfelter arrived, she said, the python was lying alongside the pool and then began to “slither back into the water.”

Once apprehended, Lingenfelter took the pet, which she said is healthy and well cared for, to the city’s animal shelter. It was retrieved by its unidentified owner Tuesday afternoon.

Lingenfelter said a pet snake gets loose somewhere in Laguna Beach about every six months. About a year ago, she had to uncoil a 14-foot python from the engine of a Mercedes-Benz.

Lingenfelter said that although a python’s venom is not deadly, larger ones can “crush and smother” a victim. A snake the size of the one captured Monday eats rodents and could consume a very small cat or dog, she said.

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If this particular snake gets loose again, Lingenfelter said, it will be declared a public nuisance, which means it would be just one more escape from being put up for adoption.

“It could get run over in that alley real easily,” she said.


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