U.S. Coast Guardsman Jason Maddux had just gotten out of bed at his Astoria apartment 6:30 Thursday morning when he spotted a 3-foot long python cuddling the baseboard heater in his living room.
"It was just there," he said. "Actually, I'm not a snake person, and I didn't want to get near the thing, so I kept an eye on it."
And took a photo.
The story first appeared in Thursday's edition of The Daily Astorian, but Maddux was able to add more details today.
He said he called in to work to say he'd be late because of his unusual situation at home, and his boss recommended he call the police. Maddux did, and two Astoria police officers, Sgts. Brian Aydt and Eric Halverson, arrived at the Exchange Street location 10 minutes later. The officers pushed the snake into a plastic bin and took it away.
Why did the snake pick Maddux's apartment?
Maddux had just moved to Astoria and hadn't entirely unpacked everything.
He had been having trouble with his baseboard heating unit in the living room, and couldn't figure out how to work it. It turns out the dial was on backwards, so every time he tried to lower the heat, he was actually turning it up. The temperature in the apartment reached 85 degrees, by Maddux's estimate. It's likely the warmth enticed the snake out of hiding, and it slithered straight to the baseboard heat source.
No one seems to have any idea where the snake came from, or how long it's been on the loose before turning up Thursday morning. Could it have come from Maddux's belongings, which were in storage in Florida and Connecticut for eight months?
Though "it's not like I was keeping any mice in there," Maddux noted.
Aubrey Freemantle of Long Beach, Wash., wrote in after reading the python story in Thursday's Daily Astorian. He observed that "many storage units are porous to the outdoors depending on the firm ... the unit is a partitioned warehouse without sealed walls between units, where one outside gap provides access to all units. And pythons can climb. Without knowing anything abut the Florida storage unit, I would not completely rule out that angle. Pythons eat big and fast long."
Shannon Petrosky, a former Astoria resident and "proud Coastie spouse," who now works at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, also wrote in, providing more observations about snake behavior.
"We have a snake at our zoo that went a whole calendar year without eating," Petrosky wrote. "They are cold blooded, which means their body temperature roughly equals the air temperature. They don't have to burn a lot of energy keeping warm or cooling down; less energy use means less food needed. I would assume that the storage in Connecticut was at least partially climate controlled. That would explain the draw of the heating unit - once the snake had warmed up she/he would have started hunting."
However, if the snake was not a stowaway in Maddux's belongings, there's only one other likely probability of how it arrived in his apartment. Anyone missing a rather large python?