The discovery of a 15-foot yellow Burmese python along Interstate 35 East in DeSoto was a rare find for a Texas urban center -- not exactly a place where the huge snakes slither around freely.
The reptile was found dead by the DeSoto Animal Control, but had it been alive, the Humane Society of North Texas would have taken it in, free of charge.
"We would have taken the python through surrender or donation and nursed it back to good health," said Lori Sanderson, director of intake for the Humane Society of North Texas, "Here at the HSNT, we will not turn any animal away because our mission is to save the lives of animals and help them find good homes."
In fact, if you're looking to adopt an exotic pet, the process at the HSNT is simple.
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The cost is a $30 adoption fee. If you've got the cash, you'll still need to fill out an application and have it approved by the shelter. The only difference between adopting an exotic pet , as opposed to a dog or cat, is that a one-on-one counseling session with the caretakers at the shelter is required.
Sanderson said they look for red flags before turning over the animal to a new owner.
"If they're adopted from us, it's part of their contract that you must take care of them. You really want to make sure the adopter is prepared for how to take care of these animals and what kind of housing and caging they're going to need," Sanderson said. "Also what kind of enrichment and things to make them live a happy life."
Several exotic pets are available for adoption at the HSNT location at 1840 E. Lancaster Ave. now:
- A ball python
- A crested gecko
- A chinchilla
- Several Californian rabbits
- A guinea pig
- An alligator (yes, really)
Although dogs, cats and birds are the most requested animals, rabbits are the most commonly sought after in the exotic range. Second place leans toward the python, Sanderson said.
"This is the most common snake we see surrendered in the shelter," she said. "It's the most common snake sold in the pet trade."
Pythons are docile and nonvenomous.
Sunshine, a 2 1/2-feet ball python, slithered around Sanderson's arm, poking his tongue out every few seconds Tuesday afternoon. He was surrendered by his owner two weeks ago.
"He said, 'My wife didn't want me to have him anymore,' " Sanderson said. "So a lot of times they have been pets and they don't have time to care for them."
Some of the Californian rabbits arrived the same way, but people who really want exotic animals will seek them out, Sanderson said. She expects them to have a home soon.
"They're very expensive to purchase in pet stores, so when they come from here they're a little bit less expensive than in pet stores," Sanderson said.
There's one exotic pet that can be donated, but not readily adopted, according to Cassie Lackey, HSNT's community relations manager.
No matter how much of a fan you are of the Dark Knight -- sorry to break the news, Batman fans -- you probably won't be taking home a bat. Ever.
"They could surrender a bat at our main location. However, we will not adopt them out," Lackey said. "We would then send it to a sanctuary (a licensed rehabilitation center)."
If you're looking to adopt or donate an exotic pet, visit any of the HSNT's location in Tarrant County:
- Main Location: HSNT Saxe-Forte Adoption Center, 1840 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
HSNT Waggin' Tails Adoption Center, 9009 Benbrook Blvd. (U.S. 377 S), Benbrook
HSNT Welcome Home Adoption Center, 363 Keller Parkway, Suite A, Keller
HSNT Keller Regional Adoption Center, 330 Rufe Snow Drive, Keller
PetSmart Ridgmar Mall, 1300 Green Oaks Road, Fort Worth
PetSmart Montgomery Plaza, 415 Carroll St., Fort Worth