HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY) - Chief Roy Gross of the Suffolk County SPCA said that he got an interesting call on Tuesday morning from someone in Hampton Bays.
"He said, 'Is there any way you have a dog or something that can sniff out an anaconda? My anaconda got loose,'" Gross said the caller told him.
The nine-foot anaconda named Bertha had vanished from the reptile owner's property on Bay Avenue West.
"So we started searching, we looked all over, and one of us said, 'Why not look in the van—maybe it's still in the van?'" Gross said. "Because he thought it got out of the van."
Around 12 hours later, Bertha's owner, Eric Callender, finally found her hiding under the dashboard of his work van, which was parked in his driveway. Callender is a herpetologist, someone who specializes in the study of reptiles and amphibians.
Gross said specialists like Callender are legally licensed by the state's Department of Environmental Conservation to have exotic pets. But Gross said people who do it illegally are putting themselves and others at risk.
"We had one gentleman that had one of his pet rattlesnakes bit him on the eye. He ended up losing his eye," Gross said. "I know of one case, years ago, that somebody died from a rattlesnake bite that he had, and then some of them get loose."
The Suffolk County SPCA holds several amnesty days throughout the year when people can anonymously surrender their exotic pets without being penalized.
If you have an illegal pet, you can call the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722 to arrange to have it turned in.