Someone apparently dumped an adult ball python in Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley, and park officials are scrambling to find it, because the cold-blooded critter is unlikely to survive the chilly nighttime temperatures.

One of the frustrating habits that people have picked up during the pandemic has been getting pets for companionship and then just flat-out abandoning them, a phenomenon animal care professionals call “owner surrenders.” To abandon them in the wild is particularly cruel, especially when the animal is cold-blooded and needs a humid environment. That’s the case with an abandoned pet who’s got officials worried, as a ball python that was abandoned in Castro Valley’s Chabot Regional Park, and the Chronicle reports that park officials are rushing to find the snake while it's still alive and hissing.

The snake poses little risk to people, as pythons are not venomous. But this variety of python is ill-equipped to survive low temperatures. “We’re pulling for him because he’s very very cold,” park supervisor Sarah Motley told the Chronicle. “We hope he found a hole and is able to keep warm.”

A parkgoer noticed and photographed the snake, which is large enough that officials figure it is an adult. But in low temperatures, even an adult snake is going to have trouble hacking it in the wild.

“A snake’s metabolism is solely dependent on heat,” an East Bay Vivarium employee named Jarach told the Chronicle. “The chances are probably pretty low that it’s going to survive that long. Depending on its size, its ability to find food is going to be very limited.”

If you’ve got a pet you can no longer care for, you can contact SF Animal Care and Control here in San Francisco for advice, and there are SPCA chapters in San Francisco, the East Bay, and the Peninsula. Don’t just leave the poor thing to die in a park!

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Image: Mokele via Wikimedia Commons