Big exotic snake caught on tape in the James River

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You don't see this every day -- A Richmond man on Belle Isle shot video of an eight-foot long snake, perhaps a python, as it slithered through the James.

Turns out the snake is someone's pet and the owner let it loose for a while Sunday. Game officials tell me that's illegal because the man wasn't in control of his pet the entire time.

The man who shot the video said while his daughter's got a kick out of it, others weren't too thrilled.

It's a day at the river, the Keller family won't soon forget.

"What do you think? Lily, like him?" said Paul Keller to his daughters, Lily and Hannah. Hannah replied, "It's scary."

Keller captured this video on his cell. An exotic snake zipping across the water toward the rocks below the Lee bridge.

"He's cruising. Look at him go," said Keller.

Paul said that's its owner, who was first spotted walking on Belle Isle with the snake wrapped around his body.

"When we started to cross the river, he let it loose and it was just casually swimming about in the river in a big calm pool of water," said Paul Keller.

Paul's daughters watched in awe.

"It was a little scary at first," said Lily Keller.

"It would start to move toward us but not in a threatening way or anything, but I thought it was pretty neat to see," said Hannah Keller.

Not to some said Paul.

"It was definitely a little bit disturbing to people nearby," said Paul Keller.

Paul said he got the sense this wasn't the first time the snake has been allowed to take a dip. But game officials said its owner should be warned.

According to Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation, there's no regulation against bringing a snake like that into a city park but once you let go of that reptile you're breaking state law and it could lead to jail time.

It's against state law for reptile owners to knowingly allow them to run at-large, or in this case slither.

A memorable day for the Kellers.

"He picks the snake up starts wiping the water off, wraps it around and walks off," said Hannah Keller.

If the snake owner had been charged, he'd face a class two misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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