South Baltimore python having a healthy holiday Snake under care of Harford man BALTIMORE CITY

December 25, 1992|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

The snake that slithered uninvited into a South Baltimor rowhouse kitchen at Thanksgiving is having a warm Christmas in Harford County with its captor-keeper.

Named "Turkey" in the spirit of the Thanksgiving it disrupted, the African ball python was caught a few days after the holiday by boa breeder Patrick J. Dunnigan. He said the snake was suffering the effects of cold temperatures and appeared to have a respiratory infection.

In the time between its initial appearance in the rowhouse of Lucille Fitzgerald on Fort Avenue and its capture, Turkey was Baltimore's most famous snake, bringing an assortment of reporters and news photographers to the little kitchen with the big serpent.

Mr. Dunnigan said the 4-foot-long python now weighs nearly 5 pounds, about double what it did when, sickly and thin-as-a-rail, it was caught in a nest under the kitchen floor.

Mr. Dunnigan said Turkey is thriving in a warm environment at his home in the Belcamp-Riverside area near Aberdeen Proving Ground, having been given antibiotics for an apparent respiratory infection.

Turkey gobbled up -- or swallowed down, depending on one's point of view -- three large rats in a mere two weeks. He had a fourth rat two days ago.

Turkey is Mr. Dunnigan's second ball python. Unfortunately, the snake turned out to be a male, just like the one he already owned. He said he is considering getting a female python "to see what happens."

Since his usual business with snakes is breeding boas -- he has eight adult females and three adult males, each about 40 pounds -- he probably has a fair idea about what might occur.

After the celebrated capture of the intruder serpent, Mr. Dunnigan said he got calls from others in the Baltimore area wanting him to catch snakes in their homes.

From the descriptions, most seemed to be harmless and common garter snakes, king snakes and "a corn snake that's been gone since summer," Mr. Dunnigan said.

He turned down the requests.

The snakes hadn't been seen in weeks or months, and the corn snake has probably gone into hibernation for the winter, he said.

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