A woman in Ohio has been saved by firefighters after making a frantic 911 emergency call to explain she was being attacked by a boa constrictor.
The Sheffield Lake resident was the owner of 10 other snakes, and had rescued the 1.7-metre-long (5.5 foot) boa just the day before the attack – but that act of kindness was not reciprocated when the snake suddenly turned on her.
It’s not known what exactly prompted the attack to take place last Thursday, but the breathless (and frankly distressing) emergency call made by the woman highlights how terrifying the ordeal must have been.
On the recording, the 45-year-old woman sounds alarmed and panicky as she tries to explain as quickly as possible the predicament she’s in to the 911 dispatcher – a massive snake is biting her face and won’t let go:
“I have a boa constrictor stuck to my… my face,” she says.
“Ma’am, you have a what?” the dispatcher responds, almost sounding like she can’t believe what she’s hearing.
“Boa constrictor!” the woman yells.
Once the situation is clarified, the woman explains that the snake has bitten her nose.
“Can you pry its jaw open?” the responder asks.
“No, I’m trying, there’s blood everywhere,” the woman replies.
The dispatcher explains that the police and ambulance are on their way, then tries repeatedly to ask the woman – who is now lying on the ground with the snake around her waist – if she’s having any difficulty breathing.
“No… I’m just scared,” she eventually replies. “Oh, God, hurry, please.”
When responders arrived on the scene, they found the woman lying in her front driveway with the snake coiled around her neck.
Beside her, an empty glass cage lay open – a clue to the beginning of the whole episode – alongside a puddle of blood from her injuries.
“It was wrapped around her neck and biting her nose and wouldn’t let go,” local Fire Chief Tim Card explained to The Chronicle-Telegram.
Seeing no other ways to rescue the woman, the firefighters used a pocket knife to cut the boa’s head off and make it let go of the victim’s face.
“The snake wouldn’t release,” Fire Lt. Wes Mariner told Cleveland.com.
“Because of how close it was wrapped around her, there were no other options, from what I understand.”
Once freed from the snake’s jaws, the woman was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and received treatment for her ordeal.
The incident calls to light efforts to raise awareness of how dangerous it is for people to adopt or rescue exotic and potentially dangerous species.
As to what prompted the attack, a local animal handler, Ed Skuza from E and J Reptile Shows & Rescue, told USA Today the woman may have handled the boa too soon after its rescue – and should have waited at least one week before bringing it out of its cage.
He also added that a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol could have gotten the snake to release its jaws – which may have prevented the animal being killed.
A local resident, Steve Kosman, explained he had previously seen the woman walking around the local area with her snakes.
“She would have it around her neck and walk over to the park behind us here. [I] just thought it was a little odd with her snakes,” he said.
“Maybe she’ll get rid of them now.”
Those kinds of thoughts were echoed by the mayor, Dennis Bring.
“I would imagine the bite was very painful, so she’s going to have to put up with that for a while too,” he told WOIO-TV.
“Now she’s going to have to probably make a decision whether she wants to continue doing this. But we’ll see.”