MATTOON — Police are investigating a snake-bite incident in which a 2-foot-long ball python entered an apartment and wrapped itself around the foot of a sleeping infant there.
The occupant, Devin Winans, of an apartment in the 300 block of North 22nd Street, told police that he was awakened at about 11 p.m. Monday by his 1-year-old son making noises and subsequently discovered that the snake was wrapped around the boy’s left foot, Mattoon Police Department Deputy Chief Jason Taylor said.
Sara Lacey, the boy’s mother, said Winans used a blanket to pull the python off of their son’s foot. She then took the infant to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center for treatment of a bite mark, a bruise and scratches. She said her son stayed calm during most of the ordeal, never crying until his wounds were cleaned.
“It was definitely something we never thought of happening. It was definitely really scary,” Lacey said. She added that she had never seen the python before, noting that the apartment building is supposed to be pet free.
Taylor said investigators believe that the python escaped from a neighboring apartment within the building, but they have not been able to get in contact with the occupant of this apartment. He said the snake’s owner could face city ordinance violation charges of having an animal at large.
Staff from the Coles County animal shelter took the python into custody Monday evening. Shelter manager Julie Deters said the python is being kept in an aquarium tank at the shelter, where it has already been fed two mice. She said the shelter has had no contact yet with the owner of this snake.
The shelter takes in an average of 20 snakes per year that are either abandoned or turned in directly to the shelter, Deters said. She added that the shelter handled approximately 50 snakes at one time a couple years ago after they were seized from their owner.
Monday’s incident was the first time a snake bite has been reported to the shelter during her 17 years of working with this facility, Deters said.