Exotic animals are a harmless treat for the vast majority of people who own them. It is rare that snakes, for instance, regardless of their size, ever purposefully hurt anybody. With that being said, when such creatures do decide to pose a threat, it can be so severe that lives are lost.
That was sadly the case for 31-year-old Dan Brandon. The Guardian has confirmed that this snake lover “died of asphyxia after his 2.4-metre (8ft) pet African rock python called Tiny wrapped itself around him,” the coroner, Andrew Bradley, has established. The handler’s mother was who found her son, dead in his bedroom with his beloved pet close by. It is thought that man’s untimely death followed a “moment of peace” with his slithering friend.
Bradley found that the python was “instrumental” in the “misadventure” that ended Brandon’s life. The saddest part is that the snake was not being aggressive, but rather was snuggling! Reptiles often show affection, a fact unknown to many, which would explain why the owner was not at first alarmed enough to stop it from happening.
“Tiny” was the offending snake, but there were 9 others living peacefully at the home, reports have confirmed. On top of that, 12 tarantulas were also dwelling inside.
The man was said to be a very responsible pet owner, though his mother had said that Tiny had shown signs of aggression in the past.
“She would get cross and hiss and pretend to strike. He [Brandon] would say: ‘For goodness’ sake, Tiny,” the grieving parent stated.”Mum, you’ve got to come and look, she’s being really good today.’ I don’t think he ever got bit by Tiny.”
She also confessed, “He was more wary of Tiny than the other snakes. He said she’s very strong. He had stopped putting her round his neck because she was so strong and unpredictable.”
One of the ladies past hand injuries were shown to the court from where a different snake had bitten once before. In spite of this, she is still caring for the animals now that her son is no longer living to do so.
Brandon had been handling and owning such pets since he was only 15-years-old. “She was his baby. She loved him,” his mother said of Tiny. When she would enter the bedroom, it would strike at him “as if to say ‘leave her alone.‘”
Contrary to what these pair of owners may have thought, this is not normal behavior for snakes and can be a very bad omen. Unfortunately, this was not known or heeded by the duo.
Her son died of a fractured rib and his”lungs were four times heavier than would be expected and he had suffered pinpoint hemorrhages in one of his eyes – signs of asphyxia.” This was established by pathologist Dr. Adnan al-Badri. “It’s possible that some sort of pressure was applied to the neck or chest that caused him to asphyxiate,” he declared.
One of the most perplexing parts of the story is that “there were no marks around his neck or chest.” This is one way that it can be known that the snake was not trying to harm its owner, but showing affection, like a strong man overdoing a handshake.
None of this was the fault of Brandon, at least not according to experts. Prof John Cooper, a vet and snake keeper, entered the man’s bedroom and said, “He was an experienced herpetologist who cared for his reptiles and would have had a good relationship with his animals. He did not have them for macho reasons.”
The coroner suggests that, rather than being snuggly, Tiny was attracted to owner’s warmth and body heat. “The most likely scenario is that that Tiny was engaged with Dan. I have no doubt she was coiling around him. There was a point at which either she took hold of him unexpectedly or trips him up or there is some other mechanism. She then makes off maybe because of the shock of him falling or the shock of his reaction. I have to accept that Tiny is instrumental in Dan’s death,” he said.
Questions remain and family member Babs Brandon laments that full answers shall never be coming. Perhaps the best way to find closure in such an instance is to understand that he died doing what he loved to do; being around his exotic pets.
As for other pet owners who may hear of this tale, may it work as a reminder to always be aware of the actions of certain animals even when they are not aggressive. To not do so could be an error that ends one’s life.