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A police officer in Pennsylvania fatally shot a 15ft snake in the head on Wednesday as it was coiled around a man’s neck while he was in cardiac arrest.

Just after 2pm, two officers from the Upper Macungie Township police department responded to a call that a male with a snake wrapped around his neck.

They arrived at the man’s home to find the victim was lying on the floor, unresponsive – “kind of half in the hallway, half in a bedroom”, Lt Peter Nickischer said in an interview.

“The snake at that point is still wrapped around the neck of the victim.”

Because of the snake’s size, its midportion, not head, was around the victim’s neck. This gave the officers an opening, they said.

“The officer kind peeks around the edge of the doorway and quite literally, the snake is looking at him,” Nickischer said.

“At that point, the officer had to make a split second decision and luckily, because of the distance between the victim and the head of the snake, the officer was able to fire one shot that injured the reptile.

“It kind of slithered away and in the process, it’s releasing its grip on the victim,” Nickischer said.

Officers provided emergency medical assistance and took him to a hospital.

The man survived though his present condition is unknown.

“It eventually just expired,” Nickischer said of the snake. “One of the officers described it as ‘right out of a horror movie’.”

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First responders in the US are often called to deal with snakes. On 23 November 2021, a homeowner in Maryland burned their house down after trying to use charcoal to fight a basement snake infestation. In January of this year, Maryland police found a 49-year-old man dead at his home amid more than 125 venomous and non-venomous snakes in cages, including a 14ft Burmese python.

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During an April 2013 incident in Thornton, Colorado, firefighters removed “more than 1,000 snakes and other reptiles from the basement of a home that was engulfed in flames”, according to the Humane Society.

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