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Sleeping boy bitten by snake in Bell Gardens

September 14, 2010 12:49:00 AM PDT
It was a terrifying wake-up call for a Bell Gardens teen on Tuesday morning. Asleep in his bed, he was bitten by a snake that had been hiding in a nearby wall heater.Authorities responded to the home on the 6600 block of Ajax Avenue after the three-foot snake was found at about 12:30 a.m.

Once first responders determined that the snake was not poisonous, they called animal control, who transported the reptile to SEAACA in Downey.

The family had moved into their new house a month ago. Earlier this week, 15-year-old Arturo Lopez felt something bite him while he was sleeping.

On Monday night, the snake apparently slithered back onto the boy's bed and bit his hand, so he got up and turned the light on, just in time to see the snake crawling back through a hole in the wall.

The family originally thought it was a baby boa constrictor, but it turned out to be a 2-year-old ball python, which is not nearly as notorious. Veterinarians said ball pythons typically grow to about six feet. They are not poisonous and can live in spaces like the wall of a bedroom for years.

"As long as it can find food, which is rodents like mice," said Dr. Brad Brunskill, a veterinarian from SEAACA.

It's believed that the snake belongs to the woman who used to live in the house. A neighbor said the former resident had warned them that her pet snake had gone missing.

"They're a real escape artist. They'll get through the tiniest hole that they can fit through and go wandering all around," Brunskill said.

Besides being a little bit unnerved, the boy is expected to be fine. The snake will be held for five days and then put up for adoption.

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