Python kills Ibaraki pet breeder

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

A man died after apparently being bitten by a 6.5-meter-long python at a pet breeding farm in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Saturday night, police said Monday.

Shoji Fujita, 66, the father of the farm’s operator, was found lying on the ground at around 11 p.m. Saturday and the snake, a reticulated python, was outside its cage, police said.

He had signs of snake bites on his head and arms and was bleeding, police said.

Fujita was pronounced dead at the hospital he was taken to shortly after midnight. The cause of death was unknown and police will conduct an autopsy.

The nonvenomous snake, which along with the South American anaconda is one of the world’s two largest snake species, lives across South and Southeast Asia. They usually feed on small animals.

“I was keeping (the python) with approval from the Ibaraki Prefectural Government,” Fujita’s son was quoted as saying by police.

Keeping or selling reticulated pythons requires the approval of local governments, according to the Welfare and Management of Animals Law.

Fujita went to the breeding farm, where snakes, lizards, tortoises, monkeys and other animals are kept, around 10:30 p.m. Saturday to check the temperatures of the various enclosures, the police said.

The door to the snake’s wooden cage, which was 1.7 meters high, 1 meter wide and 1.85 meters long, was open at the time Fujita’s body was found.