ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orange County man was shocked to find a 4-foot python slithering in his pantry Tuesday morning.
Orange County Fire Rescue said it was called to a home in the 11000 block of Stamfield Drive, near Central Florida Parkway and International Drive in Orlando.
Homeowner Lenny Lichtman said the snake did not belong to him. He said he has no idea how the snake got into his pantry.
"My heart was in my stomach, I thought I was going to catch a stroke or a heart attack. It was pounding," Lichtman said.
When he saw the snake coiled up, he immediately called 911.
Orange County Rescue was the first to show up, they recognized the snake as a python and asked Lichtman to hand them a pillowcase.
"They dumped it in the pillowcase and they walked out the door like Santa Claus with a bag of toys with a snake in it, put it on a truck and they left," Lichtman said.
Pythons are not venomous, but they have a sharp bite. The snakes are an invasive species in Florida, where they are blamed for decimating populations of native mammals.
Officials said the snake was likely a pet that escaped.
Lichtman wasn't injured, but he said the incident has left him rattled.
"I'm scared to even walk in my garage right now, I am,” Lichtman said.
Orange County Fire Rescue officials told News 6 that they tried to contact FWC, but no one answered, and animal services told them they couldn't rescue the snake, so an OCFR crew member got the snake himself and dropped it off at Gatorland.
Chris Sears, a snake expert, got a closer look at the python once it arrived at Gatorland.
Sears said the snake is a ball python and believes it's a female because of its size. Male ball pythons are usually 2 to 3-feet long.
Gatorland officials said the python was nice and calm, which made them think it was someone's pet and they abandoned it. The snake was scanned for a microchip to see who it might have belonged to, but it didn't have one, Sears said.
Sears said Gatorland plans to keep the snake for educational purposes after it is checked out by their vet and quarantined for about 10 days for health purposes.